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Rare 1943 copper coin could fetch a pretty penny in auction

10 January 2019

Don Lutes, Jr. discovered the rare 1943 coin after he received change from his school cafeteria in March of 1947, according to Heritage Auctions.

The 1943 penny was pressed amid World War II, when copper was an integral component in making wartime necessities like phone wire and bullet casings.

Don Lutes Jr. kept the 1943 copper penny he stumbled upon in his high school cafeteria seven decades ago in a safe behind a wall in his MA home.

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After being dispelled by the Treasury Department, Lutes chose to keep his 1943-branded coin for his personal collection. His penny is now being auctioned by Heritage Auctions in Orlando, Florida. The online auction ends at 6 p.m. Thursday when a live auction will begin at the Florida United Numismatics convention in Orlando.

At the time, it was falsely reported that vehicle magnate Henry Ford would give a new auto to anyone who could give him one of these 1943 "copper" pennies.

The coin is one of around 20 Lincoln pennies printed with a copper-looking surface, Fox News reported.

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"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", Heritage Auctions explained on its website.

When Don Lutes Jr. was just 16 years old, he discovered a rare Lincoln penny among his lunch money change while getting food at his MA high school back in 1947.

Lutes also asked the Treasury Department about the coin, but the Mint denied that there were any copper pennies minted in 1943. Lutes had reached out to the Ford company about his find, but he was informed the rumor wasn't true. "Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens that had been struck in 1943". To save rations, the Treasury Department at the time authorized the US Mint to strike 1943 cents on zinc-coated steel plates, known as planchets, rather than on copper blanks. They quietly slipped into circulation, to amaze collectors and confound Mint officials for years to come. Examples of 1943 bronze cents are known from all three active U.S. Mints today, with 10-15 examples known from the Philadelphia Mint, a half dozen specimens confirmed from the San Francisco facility, and a single coin from the Denver Mint.

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So, Lutes stopped marketing the coin, and added it to his personal collection where it has remained until now.

Rare 1943 copper coin could fetch a pretty penny in auction