Economy

Rare 1943 copper coin could fetch a pretty penny in auction

Rare 1943 copper coin could fetch a pretty penny in auction

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.

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

In 1943, the Treasury Department requested the U.S. Mint create Lincoln pennies on steel planchets coated with zinc in order to preserve cooper for use in the Second World War.

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.

Lutes took the Treasury statement for fact and kept the penny in his personal collection. But talk of the existence of rare copper pennies made that year soon emerged, and rumors swirled that auto giant Henry Ford would give a vehicle to anyone who could present him with one of the specimens.

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

A similar penny sold for $1.7 million in 2010.

Experts say to look for a very sharply engraved penny.

According to Heritage Auctions, the "bronze Lincoln cent is the most famous error coin in American numismatics".

Lutes knew his coin was rare and held on to it.

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Only 10 to 15 of these pennies, mistakenly minted in bronze instead of steel, are believed to exist. 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. The auction for the coin is open through January 14.

All proceeds of the sale will go to the Pittsfield Public Library where, auction officials say, Lutes often visited. After Lutes's health started to decline, he moved to a nursing home. According to the Heritage Auctions website, Lutes received the following response: "In regard to your recent inquiry, please be informed that copper pennies were not struck in 1943".

It seems that a small number of bronze planchets was caught in the trap doors of the mobile tote bins used to feed blanks into the Mint's coin presses at the end of 1942.

"They said a million, seven?"

Lutes died in September 2018, aged 87, before the auction took place. They quietly slipped into circulation, to amaze collectors and confound Mint officials for years to come.

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