There are couple of vintage coins together widely collected as the 1943 steel penny. This applies within and even beyond the numismatic realm. This unusual-looking Lincoln wheat cent is unlike any type of other United claims one-cent coin.

Its zinc-coated stole composition makes this coin resemble a dime much more than a common U.S. Penny. Yet why were these odd coins made, what room they worth, and how go a hobbyist go around collecting 1943 steel cents?


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1943 Lincoln Wheat cent, stole composition. Image: USA CoinBook


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Making The 1943 steel Cent

The steel penny may seem choose a random anomaly come some. Yet the coin has a an essential connection to an international historical event. The 1943 steel cent was produced during the height of civilization War II. This an international conflict witnessed the United says military"s involvement from 1941 through 1945.

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During civilization War II, the Allied pressures needed many essential sources to help optimize success in the war. This materials, including copper and nickel, were supplied for producing ammunition and artillery.

However, copper and nickel were likewise integral in make coins. Thus, different metals were considered for minting coins. These coins traditionally consisted mainly of copper and nickel.

Therefore, the Lincoln cent and also Jefferson nickel became prime targets for temporary but necessary metallic alterations. An act of congress in 1942 authorized a provisional 35% silver- composition for the nickel. This led the means for one emergency composition because that the one-cent coin as well.

A litany the tests and also patterns complied with for the emergency composition, including plastic and also glass. The most cost-effective replacement steel for the Lincoln cent was determined to be a low-grade steel planchet. This zinc-coated steel planchets represented an efficient and affordable avenue for making the 1943 pennies and also rationing copper because that the war effort.

However, numerous in the public were much less than thrilled with the alternative composition. The steel cents were often perplexed with the dime, resulting in some folks to shed 9 cents (or more) in a cash transaction. Others blasted the coins because that their propensity to easily rust when the external zinc coating wore turn off the coin, exposing the stole core.

The United states Mint at some point acquiesced to the comes to of the public. In 1944 the united state Mint resumed using a copper-based composition for the Lincoln cent. This was completed by utilizing copper covering casings gathered from military training facilities. This so-called shell situation cents, struck v 1946, consists 95% copper and 5% zinc. This is somewhat different than the common 95% copper, 5% tin and also zinc composition typically used at the time for producing Lincoln cents.

1943 steel Cent Value


Image: USA CoinBook


Most 1943 stole pennies aren’t precious much above their face value. This might come together something the a surprised to the numerous who believe these coins are rather valuable. That usual misperception likely stems indigenous the popular of the popular 1943 copper cents. This off-metal transitional error was accidentally struck as soon as a few leftover 1942 copper planchets to be fed through the presses in ~ the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints.

The 1943 copper cent are incredibly rare and also valuable. Only a couple dozen pieces were made, and each is worth around $100,000. While 1943 copper cent weigh around 3.11 grams and also don’t stick come a magnet, the more common steel cent (which sweet 2.8 grams) adhere to a magnet. When it comes to analyzing 1943 Lincoln cents, the duo of a magnet and also gram scale has damaged many hearts and also burst countless bubbles over the years.

The 1943 steel cents are quite common, and an ext than 1 billion were struck. Damaged down by each mint, the individual mintages are as follows:

1943 Philadelphia Mint cent – 684,628,670

1943-D Denver Mint cent – 217,660,000

1943-S mountain Francisco cent – 191,550,000

Many 1943 stole cents eventually corroded beyond recognition or were otherwise shed to time. However, there are still numerous collectible 1943 pennies the end there. Hence, this are relatively common coins and are worth reasonably little in circulated grades.

Most 1943 pennies in worn qualities trade for roughly 10 to 25 cents apiece. Usual uncirculated instances usually establish $1 to $5. Top-level specimens in grades of Mint State-67 or far better can walk for lot more, occasionally hundreds or also thousands of dollars.

There are likewise some significant varieties among the 1943 steel cents, consisting of the 1943-D/D repunched mintmark. This extensively collected variety is worth more than $100 in very Fine-40 and also upward of $400 in Mint State-63. While over there is no well-known mintage figure for the 1943-D/D Lincoln cent, it’s approximated that maybe 3,000 come 5,000 instances may exist across all grades.

What about 1944 stole Cents?


1944 stole Lincoln cent. Image: PCGS


As pointed out above, 1943 copper pennies room rare and also valuable. Their steel counterparts space much more common. Ironically, the shift back come the typical bronze composition in 1944 reversed this situation!

1944 copper cents space common, yet a few of the steel-coated zinc coins were minted that year by mistake. Thus, 1944 stole cents room exceptionally scarce and also command an extremely high values.

Confusing i m sorry is which in between the 2 years could cost you dearly.

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Collecting the 1943 Lincoln Cent

Many coin collectors incorporate the various 1943 pennies amongst their bigger collections the Lincoln cents. However, the trio of business-strike Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco 1943 Lincoln steel cent constitute a very popular one-year short set. This set is commonly sold in mass-market offerings—particularly as a collection of “reprocessed” (stripped and recoated) piece assembled in plastic display screen cases and sold via general-readership newspaper and also magazine advertisements.

There is no appropriate or wrong method to collect 1943 Lincoln cents. Given their novelty, they also make great gifts and also have assisted spark numismatic interests in folks that otherwise may not have end up being coin collectors. Indeed, whether accumulated as component of a short set or incorporated into a larger run of Lincoln cents, the 1943 steel pennies room favorites among non-numismatists and veteran coin collectors alike.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor, and blogger who has won lot of awards native the Numismatic literature Guild. The has likewise authored numerous books, consisting of works profiling the history of the United says Mint and also United claims coinage.