Let’s talk about this burning question – 1943 bronze penny how to tell if you have a valuable one? In 1943, most pennies were supposed to be made with zinc-coated steel planchets instead of the usual bronze composition. However, a small number of 1943 pennies were erroneously minted using bronze planchets. These rare bronze 1943 pennies are highly valuable to coin collectors today.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: You can identify a potentially valuable 1943 bronze penny by looking for a coppery color rather than the usual silvery zinc appearance. Use a magnet to test if your 1943 penny sticks.
If not, get it appraised by a professional coin dealer.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn all about the backstory of the 1943 bronze penny minting error. We’ll go over the key date and mint marks that indicate value. You’ll get step-by-step instructions for assessing weight, visual cues, magnet tests, and other hands-on identification techniques.
We’ll also discuss auction sales prices and how to get your coin professionally authenticated and graded.
Background on the 1943 Bronze Penny
Wartime Changes to Penny Composition
During World War II, the United States faced copper shortages as copper was vitally needed for making ammunition and other wartime necessities. To conserve copper for the war effort, the U.S. Mint experimented with alternative metal compositions for the one-cent coin in 1943.
Several different materials were tested, but ultimately the Mint decided on zinc-coated steel for the majority of 1943 Lincoln cents. These steel pennies were silver-gray in appearance compared to the familiar copper-red cents.
Small Number Accidentally Struck in Bronze
As the Mint transitioned from bronze to steel for penny production in 1943, a few bronze planchets from 1942 were accidentally mixed with the new zinc-coated steel blanks. These bronze blanks were fed into the coin presses, producing a small number of rare bronze cents dated 1943.
Precise mintage records were not kept for these bronze 1943 “error” coins. However, experts estimate that only 40 such pennies were erroneously made, with 12-16 of them confirmed to still exist today.
The extreme rarity of these bronze 1943 cents compared to the common steel counterparts is why the bronze versions are now tremendously valuable to collectors when discovered.
Key Details and Markings
Focus on Philadelphia Mint 1943 Pennies
The vast majority of 1943 bronze pennies were accidentally minted at the Philadelphia Mint when copper penny blanks became mixed in with the new zinc-coated steel blanks. As most collectors know, zinc-coated steel pennies were created in 1943 due to copper shortages during World War II.
The few bronze blanks that got into circulation ended up producing some extremely rare and valuable coins.
While a small number of bronze 1943 pennies also came out of the Denver Mint, those from Philadelphia tend to be the most sought-after. According to price guides, Philadelphia Mint specimens in fine condition can sell for over $170,000 at auction when properly authenticated.
So focusing your search on “P” mintmark pennies is advised.
Importance of the Date and Mint Mark
On all 1943 pennies, be sure to carefully inspect both the date and mint mark, as these are primary indicators of value. Under magnification, look for signs that either have been altered or tampered with, as this would significantly diminish value.
The dates on genuine Philadelphia coins will be clearly defined, while the mint mark will be present as a small “P” stamped next to the date.
You also want to pay special attention to the 3 and the 9 on the date. Counterfeits are common and sometimes feature a 1939 date that has been modified. The shapes of the 3 and 9 are generally very good indicators of authenticity.
On original Philadelphia Mint specimens, the 3 has a rounded, fuller shape while the 9 will appear slender.
Grade and Surface Condition Affect the Value
Once satisfied with the coin’s date, mint mark, and the shapes of the numbers, it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate the overall appearance and condition. The grade assigned by professional coin authenticators and graders takes into account things like:
- Wear on high spots like the cheek, jaw, and wheat stalks on the reverse
- Marks, scratches, spots, and discolorations
- Presence of original mint luster on more protected areas
The better the grade, the more valuable a 1943 bronze cent becomes. For instance, according to the PCGS coin price guide, one graded MS63 red sold in recent years for $282,000. Yet another dated 1943 from Philadelphia, but graded only VF30, sold for $144,500.
So you can see how the condition dramatically impacts potential auction value.
Taking the time to carefully analyze all the details of the date, mint mark, and surface condition can pay off! You’ll have the best chance of noticing if you have found one of these extremely rare and valuable 1943 bronze pennies.
How to Tell if You Have a Bronze 1943 Penny
The 1943 bronze penny is one of the most famous error coins in U.S. numismatic history. Here’s how to determine if you have this incredibly valuable rarity.
Check the Color
Genuine 1943 bronze cents have a distinct bronze color, hence the name. They stand out dramatically from the common 1943 steel pennies. Carefully examine your coin in good lighting and compare it to a known steel example. The difference in hue should be obvious.
Conduct a Magnet Test
Since 1943 pennies were supposed to be struck in zinc-coated steel, a magnet should stick to an authentic piece. Bronze 1943 cents, however, are non-magnetic. Grab a magnet and see if it adheres to your coin. If not, that’s a promising sign you have a bronze rarity.
Weigh the Coin
The standard 1943 steel cent weighs 2.7 grams, while a bronze version from that year tips the scales around 3.1 grams. Weigh your penny on a sensitive scale, like those used for precious metals or chemicals. The bronze pieces are heavier in a side-by-side test.
Listen to the Sound
Experienced collectors know that bronze and steel cents have distinct sounds when dropped onto a hard surface. A 1943 steel penny will emit a higher-pitched “clink,” while a bronze example produces a duller “clunk.” Try bouncing your penny and listening closely to identify possible differences.
Examine for Visual Defects
Mintage reports show around 20 confirmed examples of genuine 1943 bronze Lincoln cents. They resulted from rare bronze planchet defects at the presses. Carefully inspect your coin for evidence of such minting errors – noticeable cracks, marks, irregular shapes, or off-center designs.
These visual anomalies suggest a possible bronze transitional piece.
Following these basic authentication steps can help determine if you have one of the rarest and most famous coin anomalies ever discovered – the 1943 bronze Lincoln penny. Valued well into the six figures, these represent the “Holy Grail” for many numismatists.
Authentication, Grading, and Appraisals
Why Professional Assessment is Essential
Verifying the authenticity and grade of a rare coin like the 1943 bronze penny is critical. Since counterfeits abound, you’ll need to rely on professional grading services to determine if your coin is genuine.
These services carefully analyze each coin’s details under magnification for signs of artificial aging or other alterations. Factors like font, devices, legends, weight, color, strike sharpness, and wear levels are all scrutinized by their experts.
Modern analytical techniques like XRF spectroscopy are also used to analyze the coin’s metal composition.
Bottom line – don’t trust your judgment when appraising a potential 1943 bronze rarity. The cost of professional grading is well worth it to protect your investment and ensure you have a real bronze 1943 penny.
Grading Services from PCGS, NGC, and ANACS
The “Big Three” third-party grading services each have their strengths:
- PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) – The first service of its kind, known for consistent grading standards and secure holders to preserve coins.
- NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Company) – Boasts advanced counterfeit detection and high-resolution imaging for coins.
- ANACS (American Numismatic Association Certification Service) – Has evaluated coins for over 50 years with extensive research resources.
These services grade coins on a 1-70 numeric scale. The higher the grade, the better the condition and associated value. For example, an NGC-certified MS-63 red bronze 1943 penny was auctioned for $82,250 in 2015.
Recent 1943 Bronze Penny Sales Prices
Only a handful of these rare coins are authenticated each year. When they do appear at auction, they fetch phenomenal prices. Here’s a sample of recent sales:
|Grade & Service
|PCGS MS-63 BN
|NGC MS-63 RD
As you can see, bronze 1943 penny values regularly hit six figures at auction. And those sales prices will likely keep rising due to the extreme rarity – only 10-15 such coins are thought to exist.
So if you’re lucky enough to have one of these bronze treasures, getting it professionally assessed and graded is vital. The top services like PCGS, NGC, and ANACS have the expertise to authenticate your coin and boost its value exponentially.
Safe Handling and Storage
Use Cotton Gloves When Handling
When handling a rare 1943 bronze penny, it’s crucial to wear cotton gloves. The oils and acids on human skin can damage the coin’s surface and reduce its value. Cotton gloves create a barrier between your skin and the coin to prevent this.
Archivists and museum curators often don white cotton gloves when handling valuables like rare coins. The gloves help prevent unnecessary contact that could scratch or tarnish the items. This same logic applies when handling your 1943 penny.
Store in Archival Quality Coin Holders
The best way to protect a rare coin is to store it in an archival-quality coin holder or album. These products are designed specifically for preserving coins by using inert materials that won’t interact with the coin’s metal over time.
Some key features to look for in a coin holder include:
- Acid-free and PVC-free construction
- Soft fabric inserts to avoid scratching
- Tarnish-resistant surfaces
Well-known brands like Lighthouse, Scott’s, and cardboard 2×2 holders from Wizard Coin Supply all meet these standards. Storing your coin properly can maintain its condition and value over decades.
Maintain Detailed Records and Photographs
In addition to safe storage, it’s wise to thoroughly document your 1943 bronze cent with photographs and written records. Over time, this creates a paper trail proving your coin’s authenticity and ownership history.
Use a camera with high resolution and image quality to capture multiple angles of the coin. Pay special attention to getting clear shots of the coin’s mint mark (S, D, or P) and date. Also photograph any distinguishing marks, coloration, toning, or wear patterns.
This gives you a baseline to compare against in the future.
On the written side, keep a log detailing facts like:
|– Date purchased
|– Purchase price
|– Where it was acquired
|– Any special provenance
Review old sales records of 1943 bronze pennies from trusted coin grading services like PCGS or NGC for context on the fair market value at the time yours was purchased.
If you ever decide to sell your rare coin, this documentation helps support claims about its legitimacy and worth. Authentication services like JM Bullion rely heavily on photographic evidence during their review processes.
1943 Bronze Penny How To Tell If You Have A Valuable One – Conclusion
The 1943 bronze penny is an exciting piece of numismatic history with major collector value. With only a handful known to exist, coming across one is extremely unlikely. But if you do have a 1943 penny showing signs of bronze composition, be sure to have it assessed by a reputable coin expert.
Proper identification, grading, authentication, appraisal, and care are essential for this rare mint error coin. A verified 1943 bronze cent could sell for well over $100,000! So now that you know what to look for, happy coin hunting!