With World War II rationing already underway in 1942 to save metal and other necessary materials for the war effort, the U.S. Treasury had removed nickel from the five-cent coin for the nation’s artillery needs. The Lincoln cent, however, wouldn’t undergo a temporary, war-related metal composition change until the following year. In that respect, production of 1942 Lincoln Wheat Penny coins continued as normal, with nearly 1 billion Lincoln Pennies were minted; 657,796,000 at the Philadelphia Mint (no mintmark); 206,698,000 at the Denver Mint (mintmark: D); and 85,590,000 at the San Francisco Mint (mintmark: S).
Given such high production figures, the 1942 Lincoln Penny is by no means a scarce coin – plenty exist in virtually all grades to provide Lincoln Penny collectors their fill, and for a price that is highly affordable for most numismatists. In fact, many 1942 Pennies are still circulating, so if you are inclined to assemble a collection of Lincoln cents from the 1940s (and 1950s, for that matter), searching pocket change and bank rolls may lend you the examples you want. If you would rather just buy your 1942 Pennies, you will find them for less than 20 cents each in just about any circulated grade you want, and for under $5 in uncirculated grades.
The only other major variety of 1942 Penny that for collectors to go after is the proof coin from that year, and with 32,600 originally struck for inclusion in proof sets, there are normally enough on the market to satisfy demand. You should be able to find an example in Proof 63 for around $75.
Previous year: the 1941 Lincoln Wheat Penny
Following year: the 1943 Lincoln Wheat Penny