IRVINE, Calif. — A new example of the 1943 bronze Lincoln cent has been discovered, and will be featured in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries New York Americana Sale Rarities Night Auction, January 24, 2013.
Consigned by a New England family, this piece was found decades ago by a collector in the family while searching rolls of cents. It was held by him through his life, and passed down as a “special coin,” though just how special this piece is may not be understood for some time to come. The coin is graded MS-63 RED by PCGS.
What sets this example of the famous rarity apart from the other known pieces may be little more than a new understanding of the coins long believed to have been struck on leftover planchets from 1942, which this coin is not, raising the question, what is it?
The piece was first examined by numismatists John Pack and Melissa Karstedt at the Stack’s Bowers Galleries offices in Wolfeboro, N.H. “My initial impression was that the coin was struck at the U.S. Mint, but both the strike and color of the planchet raised some question as to the exact nature of the piece,” said Pack.
Since the steel planchets of 1943 were harder than those leftover copper ones intended for the 1942 coins, and the errors were, in theory, struck from fresh 1943 dies, the expectation is that the error coins struck on leftover planchets should be sharply struck throughout, which this coin is not. Secondly, the somewhat lighter tone would be unusual for a 1942 bronze planchet, though less so for the shell-casing alloy planchets used on cents of 1944-46.
Pack’s secondary supposition was that this might be a coin struck on a planchet intended for a world coin, as it is well known that the United States Mints were striking millions of coins for several governments at this time. With this, the process of discovery accelerated, and the coin was sent to PCGS for further evaluation, including testing of the composition. The results, a weight of 3.08 grams, and a composition of 91.7% copper, 7.5% zinc, 0.8% silver, did not match the expected standards of a 1942 cent blank, nor did it match the known compositions of similar-sized world coins struck at Philadelphia.
Pack discussed the coin with several numismatists, including Roger Burdette, who has researched 20th-century coin production in great detail, using considerable original source materials. Burdette’s research, soon to be published in a new book on the wartime coinage experiments, revealed that the Philadelphia Mint struck experimental cents in late 1943 to test the production of the shell-casing planchets in preparation for their large-scale use in 1944. Further, the Mint documented these tests by date and recorded that 1943-dated cent dies were used, also giving compositions for the test planchets. This piece of data was fascinating, and the thorough presentation in Burdette’s coming work might well change the way certain “errors” of this period are studied, including 1943 bronze cents now in collections. However, in regards to the present coin, it provides no concrete answer, as the composition did not match those recorded for these experiments, either.
The test of time and further study, including elemental analysis of other 1943 bronze cents, will likely shed some light on the piece featured in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries New York Americana Sale Rarities Night Auction. Today, however, what is known about the coin makes it a great prize, as it is indeed an outstanding example of a classic American rarity. It is a bronze cent of 1943, and it was struck at the Philadelphia Mint. It is also, at present, a unique composition and potentially a very important discovery for the story of 20th-century American numismatics.
“Bronze cents of 1943 are high on the list of famous rarities,” said Chris Napolitano, president of Stack’s Bowers Galleries. “We expect this coin to attract worldwide attention.”
The Stack’s Bowers Galleries New York Americana Sale will span over three days, from January 22-24, 2013 and will cover all aspects of U.S. coins, tokens and metals. Lot viewing will begin Monday, January 21, 2013, at Stack’s Bowers Galleries, New York. Color images and detailed descriptions of all sale items will be available on stacksbowers.com. Online bidding and pre-auction bids will begin December 28, 2012 on stacksbowers.com, by email at email@example.com and by phone at 800.458.4646.
About Stack’s Bowers Galleries
Stack’s Bowers Galleries, a division of Fortune 500 Company Spectrum Group International Inc., combines the extraordinary histories of Stack’s, the oldest rare coin auction and retail company in America, with Bowers and Merena Auctions, one of the world’s preeminent auctioneers of rare coins and paper money. The two companies unite to share a combined legacy that spans more than 100 years, and includes the cataloging and sale of many of the most valuable collections to ever cross an auction block — the John J. Ford, Jr. and Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. collections, The Harry W. Bass Jr., Collection, and The Norweb Collection — to name just a few. Topping off this amazing numismatic history is the inclusion of the world record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a rare coin: the legendary 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle that realized an astounding $7.59 million (sold in partnership with Sotheby’s). The company is headquartered in Irvine, California, with offices in New York, New Hampshire and Hong Kong. Stack’s Bowers Galleries is the Official Auctioneer for several important numismatic conventions, including the 2013 ANA World’s Fair of Money and the ANA/PNG Pre-Show, the 2013 ANA National Money Show, and the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Baltimore Expo, three times yearly.