Canada no longer produces one-cent coins, otherwise known as pennies. They were discontinued in 2012. But there’s still an army of collectors who love them. And some of these coins are worth a lot of money.
We’re going to search out the most valuable Canadian penny. We’ll find out just how much collectors will pay for it. And we’ll discover some other prized examples along the way.
Ready to find out more? Let’s get started!
Most Valuable Canadian Penny Coins
It isn’t always the oldest pennies that are the most valuable. Coins with interesting features can be worth good money, even if they’re relatively recent.
That’s the case with some of the Canadian pennies struck in 1985. These fall into two categories – those with a pointed 5 in the date, and those where the 5 is blunt.
The date appears on the reverse, to the left of the maple leaf. Look closely at the 5 on most cents, and the right-hand side of the horizontal line is squared off. But with a few, that horizontal line finishes in a point.
This kind of variation is of great interest to coin collectors, and 1985 cents with a pointed 5 command a considerable premium. According to the independent coin graders, the PCGS, the value of circulated 1985 Canada cents with a pointed 5 starts at about $2.50.
That figure rises considerably for coins in great condition. As the cent is a copper coin, its color can vary according to how much handling it’s had, and how much it’s been exposed to the air. The copper starts life bright red, dulling to brown as it’s handled.
A coin graded “red” by professional coin graders must have the red color over at least 95 percent of its surface on both sides. A coin graded “brown” will be brown over the same area. And “red brown” coins are those that fit somewhere in between.
The quality of the strike and the condition of the coin is graded from 1 to 70. 1 is for coins in the poorest condition, where there’s just enough detail visible to properly identify them. 70 is for mint condition coins in perfect condition.
In Canada, one of the principle independent coin graders is the ICCS, the International Coin Certification Service. At the time of writing, we found several 1985 Canadian pennies with pointed 5s offered for sale.
A red example graded MS (mint state) 64 by the ICCS was being offered on auction site eBay for $124. That looks like a bargain when compared to an uncertificated brown coin being offered for sale on the same site for $60.
2. 1930 Canadian Penny
Over 2.5 million Canadian pennies were minted in 1930. Today, the PCGS values a circulated example at anything from $2.50 upwards. So even a coin in poor condition will be worth many hundreds of times its face value.
But coins in uncirculated condition are much rarer. And those at the highest grades can command much bigger prices.
The finest quality examples known to exist are two coins graded MS66 by the PCGS. There’s unfortunately no sales information for those.
But a brown 1930 Canadian penny graded a point lower at MS64 set an auction record in March 2023. That coin sold on eBay for an impressive $550.
The figure reflects a rising market in Canadian pennies. An example at the same grade sold just three years earlier for a relatively modest $156.
1926 saw more than 2.1 million Canadian pennies minted. And even coins in the poorest condition are worth considerably more than their face value. The PCGS values them at a minimum of $5.
But as ever, condition makes an enormous difference to the prices collectors are willing to pay. And uncirculated red coins are the crème de la crème for any collection.
The auction record for one such coin was set in 2003. It was for a 1926 Canadian penny graded MS65. (Coins graded 65 and above belong in their own special category, known as “gem quality”.)
To add to the importance of this particular coin, it was one of only three from that year to have been graded at that level. And no red coins have been graded higher (although one brown example has been graded at MS66).
When it was offered for sale, one enthusiastic buyer was prepared to pay $1,610 to add it to their collection.
4. 1965 Canadian Penny, Large Beads and Pointed 5
Here’s another example of a relatively recently minted Canadian penny with an interesting variant. Some of the pennies minted in 1965 have large beads around the edge of the coin. Others have smaller beads.
And on some coins, the right-hand side of the horizontal line at the top of the “5” in the date finishes in a point. In others, it’s squared off.
If you have a 1965 penny with both large beads and a pointed 5, it’s worth significantly more than other variants. The PCGS refers to these coins as “Type 4”.
Over 304 million Canadian cents were struck in 1965. But there are no figures for how that total splits between the various types.
The finest quality examples of Type 4 1965 Canada pennies have been graded by the PCGS at MS65. The auction record for a coin of this type was set in 2021 for a red coin graded MS65. That fetched $180.
That might sound quite modest for a coin of the very highest quality. The reason the price wasn’t higher is that this was one of 14 coins known to exist at the same grade.
5. 1924 Canadian Penny
The mintage of Canadian pennies in 1924 was relatively low, at just under 1.6 million. And that means that even coins in poor condition are valued by the PCGS at a minimum of $8. But as ever, coins in great condition will be worth far more.
The finest quality red and red brown coins to have been graded by the PCGS are graded MS65. There’s only one such red coin, giving it an extra level of cachet. But there are no sales records for that one.
But red 1924 Canadian pennies graded a point lower have come up for auction. Seven of those coins are known to exist, and there have been two public sales in the last two decades. They give an interesting insight into just how much values can change.
When one such coin was sold in 2003, it sold for $805. Fast forward sixteen years, and another example sold for $2,760.
Amongst brown coins from the same year, there’s one finer example graded MS66 by the PCGS. It last changed hands at auction in 2014, selling for $1,880.
1922 was another year with a relatively low mintage of Canadian pennies – a little over 1.2 million were produced. The PCGS values even the poorest examples at a minimum of $15.
For uncirculated coins, values will be much higher. Red mint state coins are particularly difficult to find, and hence desirable to collectors. The PCGS has graded only six examples – two at MS63, and four at MS64.
They change hands only rarely, and there’s just one public sale record in the last two decades. That was for a coin graded MS63, which sold at auction in 2003. The price then was $920.
Brown and red brown mint state examples are slightly more plentiful. The finest quality examples of both colors are graded MS65. There are two red brown coins at this grade, and one brown specimen.
The auction record for any color was set relatively recently, in September 2021. That was for a brown 1922 Canadian penny, graded MS64 by the NGC (the Numismatic Guaranty Company). It crossed the block for an impressive $3,720.
The 1949 Canadian penny was minted in huge numbers – over 33 million were struck. But it’s another coin that has two different variants. These are known as the “A between denticles” and “A to denticle”.
The “A” in question is the second “A” of “Gratia” on the obverse. With the first variant, the top of the A points between the denticles – the teeth-like marks around the rim of the coin. With the second, the top of the A instead points to a gap between two denticles.
It’s the second of these variants that’s the rarest. And even coins in the poorest condition are valued by the PCGS at a minimum of $25.
The finest known example is a red coin graded by the PCGS at MS66. There are a further two coins at MS65, but there are no public sale prices for any of the top three.
There are ten red coins graded MS64, though. And one of those came up for sale in January 2023, when it sold for $336.
The top examples of red coins with the A pointing between the denticles can be valuable too. An auction record for this variant was set in 2003, when a red MS65 coin sold for $345.
Today, though, almost 40 coins have been graded at that level, which has hit values. Another example sold in 2020 for just $60.
8. 1955 No Shoulder Fold
The Canadian pennies minted in 1955 can be divided into two variants.
In the first examples to be struck, the portrait of the Queen on the obverse was in high relief. As a result, the two lines that represented a fold at the shoulder of her gown were not well struck. These earlier coins are known as “no shoulder fold” or sometimes “no strap”.
Later, the relief of the portrait was lowered. The fold of the gown is clearly visible on coins struck from those revised dies. They’re known as the “shoulder fold” or “strap” variant, and are much more common.
The PCGS places the value of “no shoulder fold” coins at a minimum of $125. But auction records suggest more modest prices. A coin graded MS65 red by the NGC was sold on auction website eBay in 2020 for just $45.
9. 1925 Canadian Penny
The 1925 Canadian penny was the lowest mintage of the era, with just a shade over a million cents struck. A coin in any condition is valuable, with the PCGS valuing a circulated example at a minimum of $25.
And finding coins in the very finest condition is extremely difficult. The PCGS lists only four known mint state examples in red. Red brown and brown coins are scarce too, with 42 mint state red brown and 156 brown examples assessed by the PCGS.
The sole finest example is a red coin graded MS65. That last came up for auction way back in 2003. And it set a record then, selling for $1,840.
10. 1923 Canadian Penny
1923 was another year with a low mintage of Canadian cents. Just over 18,000 more coins were struck then than in 1925.
Circulated coins are worth anything from $30 upwards. And uncirculated examples are very rare. Only 120 brown 1923 pennies have been graded mint state by the PCGS, with grades ranging from MS62 to a sole MS65 example.
In red brown, the range of uncirculated gradings is the same, but a total of just 29 coins have been assessed at those levels. Again, the sole finest example is graded MS65.
And if you want a red coin, you’ll have to content yourself with one graded MS64. There are four of those in existence, and no other mint state examples have yet come to light.
So it’s not surprising that collectors are willing to pay big bucks for these. The auction record for a red 1923 Canadian penny graded MS64 was set in 2019. And that coin sold for an amazing $4,560.
That brings us to the end of our search for the most valuable Canadian penny. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about these interesting coins.
When it comes to coin value, rarity and condition are key. So if you have a shiny, sharply struck Canadian penny, take good care of it. It could be worth a lot more than its face value!