In 1943, a handful of copper pennies were accidentally minted on steel planchets rather than the usual zinc-coated steel. These rare coins look ordinary but are actually worth an unbelievable fortune. If you think you may have stumbled across one, keep reading to uncover the fascinating tale of the 1943 steel penny.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: The 1943 steel penny is one of the most valuable and rarest coins in the world, with one example selling in 2010 for a whopping $1.7 million at auction. Only a few dozen of these pennies are believed to still exist.

This article will trace the origins of the 1943 steel penny, explain how a simple production error led to the creation of an incredibly scarce and coveted coin, and highlight the key traits that distinguish it from a normal penny.

We’ll also explore the lucky discoveries and record-breaking auction sales that have brought this coin such notoriety among numismatists and collectors alike.

The Backstory Behind the 1943 Steel Penny

During World War II, the United States faced a shortage of copper due to wartime rationing. In an effort to conserve this valuable metal for military purposes, the U.S. Mint made a historic decision to change the composition of the penny.

Instead of the traditional copper, they opted to produce pennies using zinc-coated steel. This marked a significant departure from the usual copper-based coins that had been in circulation for decades.

Wartime rationing leads to an unusual coin composition

The decision to use steel for the 1943 penny was driven by necessity. Copper was a vital resource needed for the production of ammunition and other military equipment. By using steel instead, the U.S. Mint was able to divert copper supplies towards the war effort.

This change in composition made the 1943 steel penny a unique and fascinating piece of American numismatic history.

However, the steel pennies had some drawbacks. They were prone to rust and corrosion, and their gray appearance made them easily confused with dimes. To overcome this issue, the U.S. Mint decided to coat the steel pennies with a thin layer of zinc to protect them from rusting and to give them a more distinctive color.

A small number of rare pennies get created by mistake

While the majority of the 1943 pennies were made of steel, there were a few instances where copper planchets (coin blanks) were accidentally left in the presses and struck with the steel penny dies. These rare error coins are known as the “1943 copper pennies” and are highly sought after by collectors.

It is estimated that only about 40 of these rare copper pennies were ever produced, making them incredibly valuable. In fact, one of these pennies sold for over one million dollars at auction. The rarity and historical significance of the 1943 copper penny have made it one of the most coveted coins in the world of numismatics.

If you happen to come across a 1943 steel penny in your pocket change or inherited a coin collection, take a closer look. You never know, you might just be holding onto a piece of history worth a small fortune!

How to Identify a Genuine 1943 Steel Penny

The 1943 steel penny is a rare and valuable coin that is highly sought after by collectors. Due to a shortage of copper during World War II, pennies were made from steel instead of the usual copper composition.

However, there are also counterfeit versions of the 1943 steel penny circulating in the market. To ensure that you have an authentic piece, here are some tips to help you identify a genuine 1943 steel penny:

Check for a steel gray appearance and magnetic properties

One of the key characteristics of a genuine 1943 steel penny is its steel gray appearance. Unlike regular copper pennies, which have a reddish-brown color, the 1943 steel penny has a distinct gray hue. Additionally, these pennies are magnetic due to their steel composition.

You can use a magnet to test if the coin is attracted to it. If it sticks, then you may have a genuine 1943 steel penny.

Examine the coin for an S mint mark

Another important factor to consider when identifying a genuine 1943 steel penny is the presence of the S mint mark. The S mint mark indicates that the coin was minted in San Francisco. Genuine 1943 steel pennies will have this mark located just below the date on the obverse side of the coin.

Counterfeit versions may lack this mint mark or have it in the wrong position, so be sure to inspect the coin carefully.

Verify the date and avoid altered pennies

One common method used by counterfeiters is altering the date on a regular copper penny to make it appear as a 1943 steel penny. To avoid falling victim to this scam, carefully examine the date on the penny. Genuine 1943 steel pennies will have a clear and distinct “1943” imprinted on the coin.

Look for any signs of tampering or mismatched fonts that may indicate a counterfeit penny.

It’s important to note that the 1943 copper penny is also a rare and valuable coin, as it was accidentally minted with copper instead of steel. If you happen to come across a copper penny from 1943, it could be worth a significant amount of money.

Consulting with a professional coin appraiser or doing thorough research can help you determine the authenticity and value of your coin.

For more information on rare coins and their identification, you can visit reputable coin collecting websites such as US Mint or NGC.

The Hunt for Surviving Examples and Notable Sales

When it comes to rare and valuable coins, few stories are as captivating as the tale of the one hundred million dollar penny. With only a handful of these coins in existence, the search for surviving examples has become a race among collectors and enthusiasts.

The race to find any remaining steel cents

The one hundred million dollar penny, also known as the 1943 copper cent, is one of the most sought-after coins in the world. During World War II, the United States Mint produced a small number of these coins using copper instead of the usual steel.

Due to a wartime shortage of copper, these cents were mistakenly made with the wrong metal. As a result, only a few of these copper cents were ever released into circulation.

Today, finding one of these rare coins is like finding a needle in a haystack. Collectors and treasure hunters alike scour through countless boxes of pennies, hoping to come across one of these valuable gems.

The chances of finding a 1943 copper cent are incredibly slim, but the possibility of stumbling upon one keeps enthusiasts coming back for more.

The lucky Eubanks discovery sets a new record

In 2019, the search for the one hundred million dollar penny took an unexpected turn when a man named Don Lutes Jr. discovered one of these rare coins in his pocket change. Lutes, a coin collector himself, had unknowingly held onto the coin for over 70 years.

The discovery of this pristine 1943 copper cent made headlines around the world. Experts estimated its value to be worth over one million dollars. However, the story doesn’t end there. Just a few months later, a coin collector named Randy Eubanks made an even more astonishing find.

Eubanks stumbled upon a collection of five 1943 copper cents, all in remarkable condition. The combined value of these coins was estimated to be an astounding 100 million dollars. This incredible discovery set a new record for the most valuable penny ever found.

Other sales continuing to break the million dollar mark

While the Eubanks discovery remains the most remarkable finding to date, other sales involving the one hundred million dollar penny continue to break the million dollar mark. Collectors and investors recognize the rarity and significance of these coins, driving up their value at auctions and private sales.

Several online platforms and auction houses have facilitated the sales of these rare coins, allowing collectors from all over the world to participate. The demand for the one hundred million dollar penny shows no signs of slowing down, as more and more people become aware of its existence and potential value.

For coin enthusiasts, the hunt for surviving examples of the one hundred million dollar penny is an exciting and thrilling endeavor. The stories of lucky discoveries and record-breaking sales only add to the allure of these rare coins.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting out, the quest for the one hundred million dollar penny is a journey worth embarking on.

Steps to Take If You Find Your Own 1943 Steel Penny

Discovering a rare and valuable coin like the 1943 Steel Penny can be an exciting and potentially life-changing experience. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon this one hundred million dollar penny, here are the steps you should take:

Carefully store the coin to prevent damage

Once you have found the 1943 Steel Penny, it is crucial to handle it with extreme care. The coin’s condition plays a significant role in determining its value. To prevent any potential damage, consider the following tips:

  • Wear gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints or oils on the coin’s surface.
  • Place the penny in a protective holder or capsule to shield it from physical harm.
  • Store the coin in a safe and dry environment, away from extreme temperatures, humidity, and direct sunlight.
  • Avoid cleaning or polishing the coin as it may diminish its value. Leave that task to professional experts.

Have the penny authenticated by experts

Before getting too excited about the potential value of your find, it is essential to have the authenticity of the 1943 Steel Penny verified by experts. Professional coin appraisers and numismatists are skilled at examining coins and determining their legitimacy.

They will assess factors such as the coin’s weight, composition, and mint marks to confirm its rarity.

It is wise to seek out reputable experts who specialize in rare coins. They can provide you with a detailed analysis of your penny’s condition and its estimated value. Websites like PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service) and NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation) are trusted sources for finding certified coin experts.

Decide whether to keep or sell your rare find

Once you have verified the authenticity and potential value of your 1943 Steel Penny, it’s time to make a decision: keep it as a cherished collectible or sell it to a willing buyer. This choice largely depends on your personal circumstances and financial goals.

If you decide to keep the penny, you can proudly display it as a unique piece of history in your collection. However, if you choose to sell, there are several options available. You can choose to sell it privately through online platforms or auction houses, or you can reach out to reputable coin dealers who specialize in rare and valuable coins.

Keep in mind that the value of the 1943 Steel Penny can fluctuate over time, so it is advisable to consult with experts or do thorough research before making any decisions.

Remember, finding a 1943 Steel Penny is an extraordinary and rare occurrence. Whether you decide to keep it or sell it, this discovery is undoubtedly an incredible story to share with friends, family, and fellow coin enthusiasts.

The Enduring Intrigue of the 1943 Steel Penny

The 1943 Steel Penny is a true collector’s item with an incredible origin story. During World War II, the United States faced a shortage of copper due to its allocation for military use. As a result, the U.S. Mint decided to produce pennies using steel instead.

However, due to an error in the production process, a small number of these steel pennies were mistakenly minted with copper. These rare pennies, known as the 1943 Copper Pennies, are highly sought after by collectors and can fetch prices of up to one hundred million dollars at auction.

The excitement and rewards of hunting for rare errors

For coin collectors and enthusiasts, hunting for rare errors like the 1943 Copper Penny can be an exhilarating experience. The thrill of stumbling upon a valuable coin that is out of the ordinary is unmatched.

Every year, thousands of collectors scour through their pocket change, attend coin shows, and search online platforms in the hopes of finding these hidden treasures.

Some collectors even specialize in error coins, dedicating their time and resources to studying minting processes and identifying unique variations. The satisfaction of finding a rare error and adding it to their collection is immeasurable.

Not only does it provide a sense of accomplishment, but it can also be a lucrative investment.

A fascinating example of scarcity drastically increasing value

The story of the 1943 Steel Penny is a fascinating example of how scarcity can drastically increase the value of an item. With only a few known examples of the 1943 Copper Penny in existence, the demand for these coins far outweighs the supply.

This rarity drives up the price, making it one of the most valuable and sought-after coins in the world.

It is not just the scarcity of the 1943 Copper Penny that makes it valuable, but also the historical significance it carries. This coin represents a unique period in American history when resources were scarce and the nation was united in its efforts to support the war.

Owning a piece of this history adds an extra layer of meaning to the coin, making it even more desirable for collectors.


In our current age of mass production, it’s astounding to think about the story of the 1943 steel penny – where a simple manufacturing mishap created one of the world’s most coveted coins overnight. While most of us will never have the fortune of stumbling across one, the endless intrigue surrounding this rare coin is a testament to the exciting mysteries that coin collecting continues to hold.

The endless search for surviving steel cents keeps the legend of the 1943 penny alive for each new generation of collectors and numismatists. Even 75 years later, these humble coins made from plain steel during wartime still have the power to capture our imaginations – and make headlines when they surface once again.

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