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HomeUS Coins2003-D Lincoln Cent : A Collector's Guide

2003-D Lincoln Cent : A Collector’s Guide

2003-D Lincoln Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
2003-D Lincoln Cent. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..

Lincoln Memorial Cents from the Denver Mint had seen similar billion-coin mintages since the late 1960s and early ’70s, but the 2003-D was part of a downward trend in cent production that started in the mid-’90s and continued into the early part of the 21st century. Despite increasing pressure on the United States Mint to change its metallic composition or to eliminate it altogether, the cent is still produced in the billions, albeit in relatively lower amounts.

So while its mintage was much smaller than those of cents from the series’ peak in the early 1980s when the Mint switched to copper-plated zinc planchets, attrition has made the 2003-D one of the more common pennies that one can encounter in change. The strike quality is generally strong for the issue.

Why Certain Lincoln Cents Are Worth More Money

Because collectors naturally prefer coins with good “eye appeal” and are willing to pay more for better-quality pieces, third-party grading services have created new market tiers for each increment of difference in quality. The average coin in pocket change will range from Extra Fine to the lower tiers of Mint State. But over time, exposure to the environment and the rigors of daily use will wear down all one-cent coins, rendering them unacceptable to many collectors.

Therefore, collectors and dealers often look to Mint Sets to source more common business strike coins. Mint Sets feature one example of each denomination struck for circulation at each relevant branch mint that year, and the coins in these sets are handled with much greater care than ordinary circulating specimens. The U.S. Mint sells them directly to collectors at a premium, but unopened Mint Sets are often available from dealers and other collectors on the secondary market. The 2003-D Lincoln Cent and other coins in 2003 Mint Sets happened to be some of the finest ever struck; raw 2003-D Mint Sets in original government packaging ($2.16 face value) have sold on eBay for between $5 and $9 in recent months.

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2003-D Lincoln Cent Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS MS69RD (147, 7/2024), NGC MS69RD (23, 7/2024), and CAC N/A (7/2024).

  • PCGS MS69RD #60150795: Heritage, August 29, 2021, Lot 93483 – $75; Heritage, September 14, 2021, Lot 25098 – $114.
  • PCGS MS69RD #21308840: “Charlie O’s Collection,” Heritage, June 18, 2019, Lot 25247 – $132.
  • PCGS MS69RD #21475464: Heritage, January 29, 2017, Lot 29099 – $80.
  • PCGS MS69RD #71832439: Heritage, February 7, 2016, Lot 23133 – $94.
  • NGC MS69RD #1766762-011: GreatCollections, April 22, 2012 – View.

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The obverse of the 2003-D Lincoln Cent was designed by Victor David Brenner and appears largely as it did when the type was first minted in 1909. The main difference between the modern obverse versus the 1909 version is the location of Brenners’ initials, V.D.B., which were added under Lincoln’s bust in 1918 after their removal from the reverse in late 1909. The year 2003 appears to the right of Lincoln, and the D mintmark of the Denver Mint appears below the date. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST appears above the president, and behind him (viewer’s left) is the word LIBERTY.


Frank Gasparro designed the 1959 Lincoln Memorial reverse, replacing the original 1909 Brenner wheat stalk design. Gasparro’s initials FG appear on the lower-right side of the Lincoln Memorial. The denomination written out as ONE CENT is below the Memorial and along the rim, while the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA runs along the top half of the reverse along the rim. Between the top of the Lincoln Memorial and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM.


The edge of the 2003-D Lincoln cent is plain or smooth.

Lincoln Memorial Cent Designers

Lithuanian-born coin designer Victor David Brenner is best known for his iconic design for the Lincoln Cent (1909-Present) (View Designer’s Profile).

Frank Gasparro was an American medalist and coin designer. He joined the Mint’s Engraving Department in 1942 under John R. Sinnock and worked under Gilroy Roberts as Assistant Engraver. Gasparro succeeded Roberts as Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint on February 23, 1965, and served until January 16, 1981. He died on September 29, 2001 (View Designer’s Profile).

2003-D Lincoln Cent Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 2003
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mintmark: D (Denver)
Mintage: 3,548,000,000
Alloy: 99.2% zinc and 0.8% copper, plated with pure copper
Weight: 2.50 g
Diameter: 19.05 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer: Victor David Brenner
REV Designer: Frank Gasparro
Quality: Business Strike


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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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