1990 Penny Coin Value Checker: Worth & History

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Updated on July 14, 2023 by
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Lincoln Memorial cents appeared as bicentennial coins honoring this President’s 150th birthday anniversary. They replaced famous Wheat pennies and existed by 2009 when the US Mint changed the reverse design. Even though coins minted in 1990 are modern, collectors appreciate them as a part of this historical series.

Except for several costly collectible specimens, the 1990 penny coin value is usually slightly higher than its face value. Since these beautiful cents are modern, they typically have ultimate features, including beautiful mint luster, deep cameo contrast, and an impeccable look.

1990 Lincoln cent (Memorial) value

Condition 1990 No Mint mark penny 1990 D penny 1990 S penny 1990 S proof penny
MS 65 $0.34 $0.34 / /
PR 65 / / $5.84 $3.395

History of the 1990 Lincoln Penny (Memorial)

The first Lincoln pennies were struck in 1909 with wheat ears on the reverse. After 50 years, the US Mint replaced them with the Lincoln Memorial cents, honoring the 150th birth anniversary of this honorable man. The re-designed coins appeared on February 12, 1959, on his birthday.

1990 Lincoln cent (Memorial)
Location Year Minted
Philadelphia 1990 No Mint mark penny 6,851,765,000
San Francisco 1990 S penny (proof) 3,299,559
Denver 1990 D penny 4,922,894,533
Total / 11,777,959,092

Another big change was in composition. Initially, these coins contained 95% copper, but pieces of zinc-plated steel replaced them in 1943. After that, the US Mint returned to the original metal composition in 1944, and it was the last change by 1982. Since then, all Memorial cents have contained 97.5% zinc. Coin Value Checker is a great resource to know more.

Features of the 1990 Lincoln Penny (Memorial)

The Memorial cents replaced Wheat pennies in 1959, and the US Mint continued production until 2008. It was the first American coin showing a real person and one of the longest-lived coinages of the new world.

The obverse of the 1990 Lincoln cent (Memorial)

Engraver Victor David Brenner created a simple Memorial cent obverse that shows Abraham Lincoln’s right profile accompanied with inscriptions, such as:

  • IN GOD WE TRUST above President’s bust
  • LIBERTY behind his back
  • 1990 in front of his chests
  • The D or S mint mark under the date

The reverse of the 1990 Lincoln cent (Memorial)

Talented engraver Frank Gasparro created this coin’s reverse after 50 years of Wheat penny existence. He depicted the Lincoln Memorial in the center of this coin side with a small President’s statue in the middle.

The top half of the coin is reserved for inscriptions E • PLURIBUS • UNUM • and UNITED STATES oF AMERICA above it. A sizable denomination is placed in the lower half under the famous building, while you can notice FG (the designer’s initials) right of the stairs.

1990 Lincoln cent (Memorial)
Face value One cent ($0.01)
Compound Copper-plated zinc (97.5% Zn and 2.5% Cu)
Coin thickness 1.52 mm (0.0599 inches)
Coin weight 2.5 g (0.0882 ounces)
Shape Round
Coin diameter 19.05 mm (0.75 inches)
Edge Plain


Other features of the 1990 Lincoln cent (Memorial)

The 1990 Lincoln cent (Memorial) is a one-cent copper-plated zinc coin thick precisely 1.52 mm (0.0599 inches). Its weight is 2.5 g (0.0882 ounces), and has a diameter of 19.05 mm (0.75 inches).

Interestingly, you can notice that OF in the country name is unusually written as oF. It is not an error but artist Frank Gasparro’s way of making a penny design more appealing and breaking up the traditional coin pattern.

The most valuable 1990 Lincoln cents (Memorial)

  • One collector purchased the 1990 No S PR 69 DCAM Memorial cent at Bowers & Merena for $20,700 (August 4, 2007)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 No S PR 69 DCAM Memorial cent at Heritage Auctions for $8,813 (December 4, 2014)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 MS 69 RD Memorial cent at Heritage Auctions for $7,200 (June 17, 2018)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 No S PR 69 BN Memorial cent on eBay for $5,250 (March 11, 2021)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 MS 69 BN Memorial cent on eBay for $4,300 (April 5, 2022)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 D MS 69 RD Memorial cent on eBay for $2,938 (May 18, 2021)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 S PR 70 DCAM Memorial cent at Heritage Auctions for $2,358 (January 7, 2004)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 D MS 63 RB Memorial cent at Heritage Auctions for $10 (September 26, 2006)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 MS 65 RB Memorial cent on eBay for $18 (July 2, 2020)
  • One collector purchased the 1990 D MS 67 BN Memorial cent on eBay for $9 (July 22, 2022)

1990 Lincoln Penny Value Guides

Besides mints in Philadelphia and Denver producing only circulating pennies, the one in San Francisco minted only proofs. The final number of all struck coins in 1990 was an impressive 11,777,959,092.

1990 No Mint mark Lincoln cent (Memorial)

Precisely 6,851,765,000  pennies were struck in the Philadelphia mint in 1990. They are typically affordable nowadays, and you can buy one uncirculated piece for $0.10 to $15. Only top-quality coins with the MS 68 grade cost about $150.

The most expensive specimen is the 1990 MS 69 red-toned Memorial cent sold at $7,200 on June 17, 2018. The brown coin in the same grade reached a price of $4,300 in 2022.

1990 D Lincoln cent (Memorial)

The Denver mint came up with 4,922,894,533 pennies in 1990. All these coins have the D mint mark under the minting date on the obverse. Their average price is from $0.10 to $9, while the best-preserved pieces in MS 68 grade cost about $60.

The most expensive red-toned Memorial cent with the MS 69 grade was sold on eBay for $2,938. On the other hand, the priciest brown specimen is worth a modest $9.

1939 S proof Lincoln cent (Memorial)

The San Francisco mint was the only one producing proof pennies in 1990. Precisely 3,299,559 coins were intended for collectors, and the current price of specimens with deep CAM is a modest $0.50 to $4.

On the other hand, the beautiful, practically perfect 1990 S PR 70 DCAM cent reached $2,358 at an auction in 2004.

Proof coins without the S mint mark can be even more costly. For instance, one dedicated collector set aside $20,700 on August 4, 2007, to get the 1990 No S PR 69 DCAM Memorial cent.

1939 Lincoln Penny Errors

Lincoln cents are the lowest coin denomination among American coinage produced in billions of pieces. Thanks to such a high mintage, you can expect numerous coin errors, making these pennies even more collectible.

No S (proof) penny

Undoubtedly, these error pennies are the most valuable in the series. They appeared when the San Francisco mint mistakenly used the die without the mint mark. Interestingly, no one noticed this imperfection for a while, and almost 350 such pennies were struck.

The US Mint destroyed 145 of these error coins, but approximately 200 ended up in circulation. Nowadays, they are highly sought-after among collectors. Unlike pieces minted in Philadelphia, these proofs have a mirror-like frozen finish and can be costly.

For instance, one No S PR 69 DCAM Memorial cent minted in 1990 sold at $20,700 in 2007 at Bowers & Merena. Another one with the same features reached $8,813 after seven years.

Double die

After the hub strikes the die two or more times in a slightly different position, the result is a coin with doubled design. You can recognize four 1990 cent types with a doubling on the reverse and two on the obverse.

The obverse varieties include:

  • Coins with a notch on the R letter bottom (in the word TRUST) that are worth $2.50 to $10
  • Cents with separation on letters in LIBERTY and notches on numbers 1, 9, and 9 in the date that typically cost $25 to $125

The reverse errors appear in the Lincoln Memorial’s pillars or steps and cost approximately $25.

Penny struck on a bronze planchet (transition errors)

In 1982, the US Mint changed the cent composition from bronze to copper-plated zinc. You can sometimes come across the 1990 penny mistakenly minted on a bronze planchet.

Such a coin weighs 0.1093 ounces (3.1 g) instead of the standard 0.0882 ounces (2.5 g) weight. One red-brown 1990 cent with this error was sold for $4,300 in 2021. On the other hand, brown pieces are estimated to be worth over $5,600.

Penny rotation

Such coins appeared with a slanted image on one side after a die spun along the vertical axis during minting. Such a cent can be expensive, particularly when combined with other imperfections. For instance, the 1990 S PR 67 RD double-struck cent with rotation is worth at least $500.

Other errors

You can also find other 1990 cent errors on the market, including:

  • Pennies with faded 0 in the minting year typically cost $6.50
  • Blistering cents with bumps on the surface are worth $5
  • Off-center pennies from Philadelphia have a price of $60
  • Misprint cents with the incorrectly struck number 0 in the year and without the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST and a letter L in LIBERTY
  • Flip-over double strike is worth hundreds of dollars
  • Broad struck 1990 no-mint cent is worth over $150
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