The 1943 wheat penny is not only elusive, it could be worth over a million dollars. Do you have a 1943 penny?
There are two version of the United States 1943 penny:
1) 1943 Steel Cent minted during the World War II copper shortage era.
2) 1943 Copper Penny minted with extreme rarity due to most likely leftover copper planchets (blanks) from 1942.
The 1943 copper penny can be worth a million dollars as an extremely rare and sought after collectible coin. A penny from 1943 minted that year was made out of steel with a zinc coating. This was because copper was heavily needed for war materials during World War II. Ammunition required so much copper, the US Mint had to find an alternative source for the penny – thus the 1943 steel pennies.
US Mint 1943 penny
The U.S. Mint had denied that copper pennies minted in 1943 existed. You can read a news article from 1960 stating these rare copper cents do not exist. This article is from The Victoria Advocate, August 29th, 1960.
Contrary to this report, you can see that the U.S. Mint acknowledges that the existence of a 1943 copper penny exists from a printing error. This error occurred from a belief that copper alloy planchets (blanks) from 1942 were left in the printing presses when the 1943 steel pennies were first made.
Copper 1943 pennies has risen dramatically in numismatic value over the years. In fact, this “error” copper coin is known to be over $1 million, nearly $2 million. this million dollar cent was a 1943 copper San Francisco mint penny and was graded 62 out of 70.
Steel 1943 pennies has the color and make of the photograph on the left, while a wheat cent copper penny will have the coloring and make of the photograph on the right. Most pennies in existence are made out of zinc or copper.
Copper 1943 Penny
Mintage Quantity: Unknown though approximately 40-50 have been found.
PCGS No: 82709
Metal make-up content: Typical copper cent 95% copper and 5% zinc.
Weight: At its purest form, 3.11 grams, though circulation tends to make a coin lighter through wear and tear.
Design: Front is Lincoln. Rear is wheat stalks typical of Wheat cent or Wheatback penny.
History of the 1943 penny:
1943 pennies is unique in that the vast majority of them were minted out of steel. Copper demand was heavy because of World War II. 1943 copper pennies are presumed “error” coins that were simply minted at the beginning of the year in 1943 using leftover copper planchets that were used in 1942. The rarity of these copper pennies led to being a majorly sought after coin collector item.
Unfortunately, because of the rarity and high value of the 1943 copper penny, many fraudulent coins have been made to pass as the 1943 copper penny. These coins are, for example, 1948 pennies with half the 8 rubbed down to look like a 3, or copper-plated steel pennies home made to look like they were the original. One important method to test your penny if it is copper or steel is simply using a magnet.
Million Dollar Copper 1943 Penny
The million dollar penny, a 1943 copper S cent (minted from the San Francisco mint with copper alloy) was purchased by the Texas Rangers co-chairman Bob R. Simpson from Legend Numismatics. Legend Numismatics is a coin dealer of rare coins from Lincroft, New Jersey.
This one cent rare coin was graded a 62 out of 70 by PCGS and is the most valuable 1943 copper penny on record to exist having fetched 1.7 million dollars. in this sale.
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Steel 1943 Penny
Steel 1943 pennies weigh just 2.7 grams each, lighter than the copper penny of 3.11 grams. It is also the only US coin to not contain any copper whatsoever.
How much is a 1943 Steel Penny worth?
Steel pennies are sometimes referred to as a silver penny. However, steel pennies are not actually silver, but steel. The steel cent has also been called a steelie or war penny. The steel cent is a Lincoln wheat cent minted at 3.11 grams. It has a composition of steel with a zinc coat giving it a very low metal value because of how inexpensive steel is worth. Steel rusts relatively easily and has caused damage to most of the steel cents in circulation from wear over the decades.
As a result, steel pennies have a pretty good value ranging easily up into the ten cents per cent area, making them worth more than 1000% of their original face value. A 1943 D steel penny has a D below the date and means it was minted from the Denver Mint. A 1943 S steel penny has an S below the date and means it was minted from the San Francisco Mint.
Steel Pennies: United States Mint’s Good or Bad Idea?
Bad. Very bad. The reasoning why making pennies out of steel is a bad idea is because oxidization of zinc and rusting of steel. Simply point, the life cycle of a coin is critical to its cost (read: Cost to Make a Penny) and value as a medium of exchange (currency). Rusted coins are not just unpleasant to the eye, but the slow, inevitable mutilation/damage of the coin, forcing new ones to have to be minted just to replace them.
The zinc coating of the steel cents did not protect the steel composition of these steel cents because of the minting stamping process. The process when the steel planchet was pressed caused the steel to be exposed which meant moisture in the air could rust the coin all too easily.
The steel 1943 penny also posed a problem for the average person trying to spend the money. The new color meant they were often mistaken for dimes. Also, the steel meant the cents were magnetic. This meant vending machines trying to stop fraud with magnets would not allow these steel pennies to be spent. Why magnets in vending machines? To stop steel slugs from being used as fake coin.
Not only do vending machines have fraud detecting magnets, but so do coin sorters at banking institutions. This means as people deposited magnetic steel pennies through the banking system, banks would have those pennies sorted and wrapped through industrial machinery. The steel pennies would get “stuck” to magnets during the sorting process and potentially get removed from circulation as a result of never making it back into circulation.
Steel 1944 penny
Copper planchets from 1942 that were minted in 1943 creating the copper 1943 penny, there were also leftovers from 1943 minted in 1944. This means there are rare 1944 steel cents as well that coin collectors absolutely love to own.
Fake 1943 Copper Pennies
Coins worth millions of dollars inevitably mean scams and fraud. People have made fake 1943 copper pennies and try to sell them off as if they are authentic. One example is taking a 1943 steel penny and copper plating it with copper alloy. The process is relatively easy. It uses electricity and can be done right at home. The 1948 penny is another used coin to make a 1943 penny. Take a 1948 copper penny and shaving off half the 8 making it appear to be a 3.
A good technique to spot a fake 1943 copper penny is to test it with a magnet. If the magnet and penny attract and stick, that penny is definitely a fake.
What to do with a real 1943 copper penny
Do you have a real 1943 copper penny? The best choice is most likely to have it officially graded by PCGS, a professional grading service, to confirm its authenticity. It can be pricey. If your penny truly is a 1943 copper penny, then it is most likely well worth the upfront cost.
Bronze pennies are another name for being made of copper. Pennies made of 95% copper and 5% zinc is sometimes referred to as brass or bronze.