Rare penny found in 1947 could be worth more than $1 million

Galtero Lara
Enero 10, 2019

However, a small number of bronze blanks were caught in the Mint's presses and were struck into pennies in the new year. It was found in MA in 1947.

The 1943 copper penny "is the most famous error coin", according to Heritage Auctions.

In 1947, MA teenager Don Lutes Jr, who was just 16 at the time, was given a rare 1943 Lincoln penny in his change after buying his lunch from the school cafeteria, Fox News reports. Lutes passed away in September and his coin will be up for auction through January 9, Fox News reported. His penny is now being auctioned by Heritage Auctions in Orlando, Florida. It's thought it could fetch over $200,000, though it's so rare, a previous one sold for $1.7 million.

Copper was named a strategic material in the lead up and during World War II.

Following government orders to preserve copper for the war effort, the mint began creating Lincoln pennies on steel planchets coated with zinc in 1943.

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Don Lutes Jr. kept the 1943 copper penny he stumbled upon in his high school cafeteria seven decades ago in a safe behind a wall in his MA home.

"Stories appeared in newspapers, comic books, and magazines and a number of fake copper-plated steel cents were passed off as fabulous rarities to unsuspecting purchasers", Heritage Auctions explained on its website.

But when Lutes contacted the Ford Motor Company, he was told the rumor was false.

Only a handful of such coins have ever been discovered, according to Heritage Auctions.

When he inquired with the US Treasury about the coin's value, he was told that it was "fraudulent" and all pennies issued in 1943 were made from zinc-coated steel. Zinc-coated steel plates were "considerably harder" than those used in earlier designs, so penny pressers had to strike the blank steel coin much harder. The few resulting "copper" cents were lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents struck in 1943 and escaped detection by the Mint's quality control measures. Examples of 1943 bronze cents are known from all three active U.S. Mints today, with 10-15 examples known from the Philadelphia Mint, a half dozen specimens confirmed from the San Francisco facility, and a single coin from the Denver Mint. Numismatics refers to the study or collection of coins, paper currency and medals.

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