In a normal coin collection, a 1942 penny would be worth only its face value. However, a collector could find a rare flaw or mint error on this cent that could increase its value to well above its face value. These errors can happen when foreign metal objects like staples or bits of tape get stuck on the planchet (blank metal strip) that gets struck with a die to make the coin. The error can change the result of the design on the coin, making it look different from its regular counterpart. Some of these errors are obvious, such as a strikethrough in Lincoln’s eye. Others are less so, but still can have significant impact on the coin’s value.
Another factor that can affect how much a 1942 penny is worth is its condition. A 1942 wheat penny in circulated condition will be worth only its face value, but one that is in good condition may be worth a few dollars. A coin’s condition is assessed by a third party company called the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). Pennies are graded according to their appearance, with 1 being the lowest and 70 being the highest. A well-preserved 1942 penny in a high grade such as MS 63 can be worth over $8.
The Denver and Philadelphia mints both produced regular pennies in 1942, but a 1942 penny from the San Francisco mint is more valuable than a regular issue from Philidelphia. The reason is that a coin minted in San Francisco has a lower mintage than the other two, and this makes it a more scarce coin.