Rare 1943 bronze Lincoln penny sells for big money

Fredrick Soto
January 12, 2019

A penny that a MA teenager found in his change from lunch money could be worth as much as $1.65 million (£1.3 million) when it is auctioned off.

The cent is one of the most famous error coins in US history, pressed on copper and not zinc-plated steel.

But a handful of the coins were mistakenly pressed with copper, and Don Lutes Jr. discovered one of them in his change from his MA high school lunch bag in 1947. But on a hunch, Lutes kept it in his collection.

A rare copper penny that a MA man found in his lunch money more than 70 years ago has been sold at an auction for more than $200,000.

"This is the most famous error coin in American numismatics and that's what makes this so exciting: No one really knows what it's going to sell for", Sarah Miller of Heritage Auctions said in a statement.

Lutes' prized possession could fetch a pretty penny.

The Mint initially denied Lutes' claim that he had a 1943 copper Lincoln penny when he first notified notified the US Treasury about his findings.

Only a handful of such coins have ever been discovered, according to Heritage Auctions.

However, a few of the copper planchets that were used to cast the Lincoln cent in 1942 got lodged in a trap door of a bin used to feed blanks into the press. However, an accident at the U.S. Mint led to the creation of just a handful of copper pennies, which mixed in with the flood of zinc-coated steel coins being sent out. He died in September. Zinc-coated steel plates were "considerably harder" than those used in earlier designs, so penny pressers had to strike the blank steel coin much harder.

Heritage Auctions will offer the coin from January 10-13 during its Florida United Numismatists Show in Orlando. They quietly slipped into circulation, to amaze collectors and confound Mint officials for years to come.

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