Lucky Lincoln: Rare 1943 Penny Could Fetch Over $1 Million at Auction

Rare penny found among lunch money change could go for up to $1.7 million at auction

A penny found by a MA teen and which was mistakenly made from copper in 1943 is considered so rare that it is likely to fetch up to $1.7million at auction.

In 1943, the U.S. Treasury Department had authorized the U.S. Mint to strike all pennies on zinc-coated steel since copper was a strategic metal needed to make shell casing and other items during wartime. However, a handful of the coins were mistakenly pressed with copper, including the one Lutes found.

After Lutes passed away in September, his coin was given its eye-watering potential value. Heritage Auctions, which is overseeing the sale, estimates the coin is worth at least $170,000.

A rare coin found by a high schooler in his lunch money has been valued at nearly $1.7million, following the owner's death.

In 2010, a New Jersey dealer sold a similar 1943 copper penny for $1.7million.

"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", according to the auction house's website.

"The coin became so famous that it was once falsely reported that Henry Ford would give a new auto to anyone who could provide him with a 1943 "copper" cent", Heritage says.

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.

He contacted Ford, who told him that they weren't giving out cars in exchange for the coins after all. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steel". "Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens that had been struck in 1943". "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steal".

It was many years before the truth came out about the rare pennies, according to Heritage Auctions.

The United States Mint, which produces the coins, apparently missed a few bronze blanks which somehow got into the presses.

So Lutes concluded his coin was probably valueless, and stored it as a curiosity in his coin collection for the next seven decades.

Between 10 to 15 of the coins with a copper appearance made in facilities including the Mints of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver are thought to exist today.

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