Rare coin given to schoolboy as change now worth $2.3m

Mae Love
January 10, 2019

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 1942, pennies were supposed to be struck from steel, in order to conserve copper for shell casings, telephone wire, and other "wartime necessities".

High school student Don Lutes, Jr., of MA, came across one by chance - back in 1947.

After Lutes passed away in September, his coin was given its eye-watering potential value.

The penny was put up for auction, and as of Wednesday morning, January 9, the bid was at $120,000.

That extremely rare one-cent piece could rack up as much as $1.7 million when it's auctioned off Thursday in Dallas, the New York Post reported.

In 2010, a New Jersey dealer sold a similar 1943 copper penny for $1.7million. PCGS CoinFacts, which offers information to all collectors of USA coins, estimates that there are only 10 to 15 such pennies.

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A rare penny found by a 16-year-old high school student in Pittsfield back in 1947 is up for auction starting at $120,000.

"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. Lutes contacted the Ford Motor Company but was told the rumor was false.

Those planchets went unnoticed when the bins were refilled with zinc-coated steel planchets in 1943, Heritage Auctions said.

"Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens had been struck in 1943".

Lutes also asked the Treasury Department about the coin, but the Mint denied that there were any copper pennies minted in 1943.

The United States Mint, which produces the coins, apparently missed a few bronze blanks which somehow got into the presses. The resulting "copper" cents were lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents, escaped detection by the Mint's quality control measures, and quietly slipped into circulation.

Only a handful of such coins have ever been discovered, according to Heritage Auctions. Today, we know there are surviving examples from all three active mints, including 10 to 15 from Philadelphia, half a dozen from San Francisco, and just one from Denver.

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