‘Holy grail’ found: Rare penny might be worth $1.7 M after it was found in the boy’s lunch money

As copper was needed for bullets and wire to win the second world War, 1943 crash of the AMERICAN Currency made out of one of the most valuable coins in American history. (Credit: SWNS)

Now that is a pretty penny.

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

The 1943 Lincoln penny was made of copper and is described as the “most famous” coin made in error, according to Heritage Auctions, that the auction of the currency. Only 20 were ever made and for years the US government denied the existence, but a coin was found by Don Lutes Jr. in his cafeteria in March 1947.


“Despite the relentless search by avid collectors over a period of more than 70 years, only a handful of legitimate copies have ever been discovered,” Heritage wrote on its website. “PCGS CoinFacts estimates of the surviving population of no more than 10 to 15 examples in all grades. We have a list of all the monsters that are certified by the two major grading services below, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers.”

In the 1940’s, copper was considered a strategic metal, largely as a result of the second world War, as it was used for making shell casings, telephone wire and other wartime necessities. To the preservation of the metal, 1943 Lincoln pennies are made of zinc plated steel, but a small fraction of the pennies in circulation wound with copper.

Almost as soon as the tokens were printed, rumors began to emerge that some of the copper cents had their way in the traffic. The frenzy had so increased, that it was speculated that the auto magnate Henry Ford would make a new car to anyone who could give him one of these copper pennies, but that speculation was later proven false.

“Stories appeared in newspapers, comic books, magazines, and a number of the fake copper-plated steel cents were passed out as beautiful rarities to unsuspecting buyers,” the auction added on the website. “Despite the mounting number of reported finds, and the Currency steadfastly refused a copper coins were minted in 1943.”


At the time, Psalteries, who was 16, had heard of the rumors about Ford, but when he was later told that it was false, it remained the currency for himself in his collection. Over the years, that he has received for the currency, and, eventually, according to the AMERICAN ministry of finance, but was told that it was fraudulent, that “All the pennies minted in 1943 were zinc plated steel” and eventually decided to just keep it for his collection.

For the switchover took place, a few cents were accidentally struck in copper, the making of a 1943 Bronze Lincoln cent is one of the most well-known coins in AMERICAN history: 76 years later, the first of these error coins ever discovered in history as Heritage Auctions offers the rarity Jan. 10 in Orlando, Florida. (Credit: SWNS)

The 1943 zinc-coated steel pennies proved to be so popular with the public that they were eventually replaced with brass recovered from shell casings.

Luiten died in September, and now the currency is going on the auction, where no one really knows what it will sell for Sarah Miller of Heritage Auctions said. “This is the most famous error coin in U.s. numismatics, and that is what makes this so exciting: no one really knows what it’s going to sell,” Miller said in the commentary that is obtained by SWNS.


The auction is underway and is slated to end on Jan. 10.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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