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The Infamous 1943 United States Copper Cent

By Edited Oct 5, 2016 2 4

1943 Copper Cent

The infamous 1943 United States copper cent is arguably the most famous penny ever produced. Coin collectors, both young and old, have searched the dates of Lincoln cents from their teens to old age searching for an example of this rarity.

Created by the US mint completely by accident, as the times were calling for all copper and brass available be used to create mortar shells and other various types of ammunition, during World War II. No copper cents were supposed to be produced during this year.

Minting of copper cents was completely suspended in the end of 1942 and a steel planchet was substituted for the common bronze cent from the first coins struck with the 1943 date. This continued for the entire year and an approximate total of 100,000,000 examples were struck in steel.

The anomaly of a bronze 1943 cent was created when several of the bronze planchets remained in the equipment as the striking process began in 1943. These examples slipped through quality control and are known to number in the dozens today.

Obviously the known examples are all in the hands of collectors, or museums, and that holds the interest of even the novice coin collector that one could still be out there and maybe located in normal pocket change. This kind of possibility is intriguing to the collector in us all.

However popular and well known the 1943 copper cent may be, the 1944 steel cent may be even rarer. This coin came into existence in almost the same way except one year later, when once again the machinery was not quite cleaned well enough and several 1944 coins were struck on steel planchets that also hid within the lines.

These also made their way to the public, either by being overlooked, or because a mint worker spotted them and grabbed them as a possible future oddity. However these coins came to be found outside the mint, has little relevance with collectors today, as they bid avidly in the 6 and 7 figure column, for any genuine examples that surface.

As long as people collect US coins, this will always be on their dream list. Acquiring even the worst example known, would make one an instant millionaire.

A story circulated about one example being laid on a businessman's dresser. His child collected it and took to the store to buy some penny candy. The cent was supposedly never recovered.

This tale, be it real or fabricated, has added to the hopes of penny collectors around the world, that they may be the lucky one to turn up with this rare cent.

The infamous 1943 United States copper cent is one of the most valuable US obsolete coins in the collecting world today. So, as they say, watch your pennies and let the dollars watch themselves.

A Guidebook of United States Coins 2014: The Official Red Book
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Nov 7, 2010 10:26pm
Funny, people seem to like collecting mistakes!
Nov 7, 2010 10:37pm
Yes they do and this was a big one. Thanks for the visit.
Nov 22, 2010 10:36am
I got a lot of old coins but have not seen this one in there yet! Great article.
Mar 24, 2011 2:19am
Keep looking Ernie again thanks for stopping by!!
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