Rare penny from school lunch change up for auction

Daniel Fowler
January 10, 2019

With that, Lutes was sorely disappointed when he contacted the U.S. Treasury Department about the coin only to receive their standard reply: "In regard to your recent inquiry, please be informed that copper pennies were not struck in 1943".

More than seven decades ago, a MA teenager found a 1943 Lincoln penny in his lunch change and he chose to hang on to it until his death just a few months ago.

The penny is now up for auction and the current bid is at $130,000. Lutes even tried to get the authenticity of his penny verified by the Treasury Department. It was a penny.

The penny is considered to have been made in error because in the 1940s, copper was meant to be reserved for wartime necessities such as shell casings and telephone wires.

A rare Lincoln-head penny a MA teenager received in change for his school lunch is up for auction with a starting bid of $100,000.

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"They eventually became dislodged and were fed into the coin press, along with the wartime steel blanks".

Following government orders to preserve copper for the war effort, the mint began creating Lincoln pennies on steel planchets coated with zinc in 1943. 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. 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. Buoyed by the Henry Ford rumor, he contacted the vehicle firm, but they informed him it was false.

So amongst the millions of "steel" pennies were a tiny number of "copper" cents that managed to quietly enter circulation. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steal [sic]". He kept it in his collection for decades, but sold it before passing away in September. The penny was created after "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", according to auction house.

The teenager held on to the penny, thinking he would sell it one day.

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