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1943-S Steel Lincoln Cent With Strong Eye Appeal Offered at GreatCollections

By CoinWeek ….
On Sunday, March 21, bidding ends on GreatCollections.com for this toned 1943-S Steel Lincoln Cent, graded MS-66 by PCGS and approved by CAC.

Among Lincoln Wheat cents, the steel cents of 1943 are some of the most well-known pennies to even the general public. At the height of World War II, the United States Mint altered the composition of the small cent to a planchet of steel coated in zinc in order to divert much-needed copper to the war effort. These regular issue steel cents were minted in 1943 at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints, with production of the copper (technically bronze) cent resuming the next year.

The San Francisco issue, at 191,550,000 pieces struck, was the lowest of the three original mintages, with Denver striking almost 218 million and Philadelphia producing almost 685 million. Naturally, there were accidental strikings of copper cents in 1943 and steel cents in 1944, and these off-metal error coins are among the most valuable and highly sought-after Lincoln cents of all time – but that in no way detracts from the appeal of a business strike 1943-S steel cent to collectors of the series, especially in High Mint State with a strong strike and a pleasing amount of light toning over the entire surface of the coin.

Indeed, people were enthralled by nice examples of the coin at the time it was released, which resulted in many being preserved in Gem quality. Today, PCGS reports 5,743 grading events at MS-66, which is the largest population for Mint State 1943-S Lincolns at that company. Several of these have been sold at auction in recent years, with prices for the end of 2020 alone averaging to around $250 USD and tending around a median of $228.

At the time of writing, the high bid for this highly collectible 1943-S Lincoln Wheat cent is $525 after 23 bids. Undoubtedly, the toning and the green CAC sticker account for the extra demand the item is seeing.

For more auction results, you can search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.

Background of the Wheat Reverse Lincoln Cent

The Lincoln cent (1909 to present) has been a favorite of collectors for many decades. It was the first circulating U.S. coin to feature the likeness of a real person: 16th president Abraham Lincoln, one of the most beloved presidents in the country’s history. First released in 1909, the Lincoln cent was issued in time for the centennial of Lincoln’s birth.

With few exceptions, millions (if not billions in more modern times) of Lincoln cents have been produced every year. Combined with its low face value, it is a coin that almost anyone can collect, including kids. Yet the series also features enough rarities and varieties both major and minor to hold the interest of the serious numismatist.

The first year of the design includes the issues that prominently display on the reverse the initials of the designer, Victor D. Brenner – which caused controversy at the time of release, even though designers initials had previously been placed on U.S. coins. Because those initials were subsequently removed (and then reinstated in a less conspicuous location on the obverse in 1918), the 1909 V.D.B. and 1909-S V.D.B. cents are considered a separate type.

Lincoln cents were made of a bronze alloy in most years, with a couple of variations during the years of World War II. Because copper was a critical war material, cents in 1943 were produced on zinc-coated steel planchets. That resulted in the inadvertent creation of two Lincoln cent rarities, the first being the copper cents dated 1943, and the second being the steel cents dated 1944. From 1944 through 1946, cents were produced from reused shell cases, whose bronze composition was nearly identical to the original issues minus the tin.

Millions of business strike Wheat Lincoln cents were produced almost every year of the type’s run (1909-1958). Collector interest in the type grew slowly, not taking off until the low-mintage 1931-S was extensively publicized, along with the advent of collecting boards in the early 1930s.

Frank Gasparro designed the 1959 Lincoln Memorial reverse that replaced the original 1909 Brenner wheat stalk design.


On the obverse, Brenner’s portrait of Abraham Lincoln depicts the President from the shoulder up. Lincoln is dressed in a period suit and is wearing a bow tie. At the top of the design, wrapping around the rim is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST”. “LIBERTY” appears behind Lincoln’s neck, on the left side of the coin. The date appears slightly lower, in front of Lincoln’s portrait, on the coin’s right side. The mint mark “S” is below the date.

On the reverse, two sheaths of wheat wrap around the right and the left side of the coin. At the top of the design, the motto “E ·PLURIBUS · UNUM” wraps around the rim. ONE CENT is inscribed in large letters, sans serif, the bottom arm of the E extends beyond the arm at the top. The middle arm is recessed. Beneath, in the same font, but smaller type: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

The edge is plain.

Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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