By James McCartney – Senior Numismatist, Stack’s Bowers ……
The Bronze 1943 Lincoln cent is perhaps the most famous Mint Error to ever emerge from the United States Mint. Just about 20 distinct examples are known from the Philadelphia Mint and they are highly prized at all grade levels. When the U.S. mints switched to zinc-coated steel planchets in 1943, it is supposed that a small number of bronze planchets from 1942 were somehow caught up in the folds of the delivery carts. These blank planchets worked their way loose and were fed through the presses along with the new steel cent planchets, creating this famous rarity.
The standard alloy for bronze planchets leading up to the change to steel was 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc. The steel planchets used in regular production required greater striking pressure to execute the designs, so these softer bronze planchets are typically very sharply struck, particularly since they would theoretically have been produced at the beginning of 1943 when the dies were fresh.
Offered in the Stack’s Bowers November 2020 Showcase Auction is a desirable and newly-available specimen of this famous 20th-century rarity.
Attractive despite the light cleaning noted by NGC, the surfaces are evenly glossy, free from distracting areas of brightness, and have with pleasing shades of caramel and olive-brown. The usual softness is noted at O of ONE and AM of AMERICA, but the devices are otherwise sharp. Magnification reveals hairline scratches behind Lincoln’s head and a few marks at the right obverse rim, but these are largely not noticeable without magnification.
This specimen was first discovered in 1976 in the gumball machine of a restaurant located across the street from the Philadelphia Mint. The owner of the restaurant then offered it to a local butcher who advertised as a coin buyer in the window of his shop. The butcher purchased it for $1,000 once it had been authenticated by ANACS in November 1976, and he subsequently brought it to our staff at Stack’s Rare Coins in New York City for additional confirmation. Over the following decades, the coin was passed down to the butcher’s children, who elected to have it certified by NGC in February 2019 with the help of Mitch Battino at Hudson Rare Coins. It is now available at public auction for the first time ever and will surely draw considerable attention from Mint Error and Lincoln cent specialists!
This sharp Bronze Lincoln cent will be offered in our November 2020 Showcase Auction, appearing alongside rarities from the Larry H. Miller Collection, the E. Pluribus Unum Collection, the Larry Ness Collection, the Monterrey Collection, the Abigail Collection, and many other significant cabinets.