HomeAuctionsFamous 1943 Bronze Cent Error Coin Offered by GreatCollections

Famous 1943 Bronze Cent Error Coin Offered by GreatCollections

Famous 1943 Bronze Cent Error Coin Offered by GreatCollections

Biding is now live on Greatcollections.com for a handsome example of the famous 1943 Copper Penny error, graded as AU 50 BN by PCGS and earning a blue CAC sticker. Interested collectors should note this is a rare opportunity to acquire such a numismatically important coin.

Bidding ends Sunday, November 13, 2022, at 4:12:20 PM Pacific Time (7:26 PM Eastern); at the time of publication, the highest of 100 bids stands at $127,500 USD.

One of the most sought-after and well-known error coins, the 1943 Bronze Lincoln Cent was a product of World War II, specifically since the United States needed the metal for the war effort. As a result, virtually all 1943 cents were struck on zinc-coated steel planchets. Any bronze cents dated 1943 were accidentally struck on old 1942 planchets. The current theory states that a small number of bronze blanks became stuck in the tote bins used with the coin press feeders. Ultimately, these planchets came loose and were mixed in with the standard production line. While all branches of the United States Mint produced these errors, the most common type comes from the Philadelphia Mint.

These errors gained popularity nearly immediately after being struck. One rumor that was started in the early 1940s stated that famous American industrialist Henry Ford would reward the finder of a 1943 copper Wheat cent with one of his new cars. However, the company repeatedly denied this and never gave away cars in return for the coin. And despite the early rumors, the first authentic example was not found until 1947 by the 14-year-old Donald Lutes, Jr., who received it one day in change for his school lunch. According to Q. David Bowers, this wasn’t reported until March of 1957 when it was published in Scrapbook (Bowers, 190).

Eventually, this error inspired a number of magazine and comic book ads from companies and collectors offering rewards for a specimen. But as of 2022, only 10 to 15 are known.

This particular coin is a pleasing brown, with not unattractive circulation wear on the high points of Lincoln’s bust on the obverse and the wheat sprigs on the reverse. With only a scattering of minor tick marks and abrasions, no major scratches mar this coin.

Additionally, this coin does not display the usual softness in the the O in ONE and the AME in AMERICA. Recently, on July 14, 2022, a slightly nicer example also graded AU 50 was sold for $336,000. Regardless, the current example for sale by GreatCollections is sure to earn a large hammer price.


On the obverse, designer Victor David Brenner’s portrait of the 16th president 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.

This coin was struck at the Philadelphia Mint, so there is no mintmark.

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.

Bidding for this 1943 bronze cent ends on Sunday, November 13, 2022, at 4:12:20 PM Pacific Time (7:26 PM Eastern).

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To search through GreatCollection’s archive of over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past eight years, please visit the GreatCollections Auction Archives.

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Bowers, Q. David. A Guide Book of Lincoln Cents, 3rd edition. Whitman. (2018)

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    • They’re silver COLOR but not made of silver. As the article says, they were struck in zinc-coated steel to save copper for the war effort. If they actually were silver they’d have been worth more than the dimes issued at that time.

      In average condition, a circulated steel cent is only worth 25¢ to a dollar depending on the amount of wear and corrosion.

      For every genuine 1943 bronze cent there are many thousands of fakes. If your “bronze” coins are attracted to a magnet they’re ordinary steel cents that have been copper-plated. If yours doesn’t stick to a magnet look at the bottom of the “3” in the date. On a genuine 1943 cent it will point down and left, roughly like the southwest direction on a compass. If the bottom of the “3” points horizontally to the left your coin is an altered 1945 or 1948 coin. Finally, if you can get a sensitive scale check its weight. A bronze cent will weigh about 3.11 gm while a steel cent weighs only 2.7 gm.

      If it passes all of those tests your coin should be examined by an expert from a major numismatic agency like ANA, PCGS, etc.

        • Cents from the 1940s are generally common among collectors. Unless they’re in new or near-new condition they don’t have much added value. It would probably cost more to have them evaluated than whatever you could sell than for as collectibles.

          As the article describes, the only truly valuable bronze cents from the 1940s are the 1943 errors. Standard 1943 steel cents in circulated condition are only worth 25¢ to $1.

    • They were called *wheat* (not “wheel’) cents due to the use of wheat ears in the reverse design. However in circulated condition they’re very common and will only sell for a few cents to a dollar depending on how worn they are.

    • If you have 1943 steel cents you have an interesting memento of WWII when even the lowly penny had to make sacrifices for the war effort. However they’re not very valuable; loads of them were saved as curiosities.

      If you have 1943 cents that appear to be copper it’s highly likely you have some of the oceans of fakes that have been made over the last seven decades. As the story notes, only a handful of genuine examples are known. See my answer to Ervin Smith for more.

  1. Well I’ve read all ya’all questions, and answers. But I have A 1943 Penny that does not stick to a magnet, the weight is 3.11 grams, and the 3 points to the Southwest directions as it says it should. So what should I do? How much will it cost to get it graded and find out for sure 100% it’s genuine. I know it is just cause it passes all the tests. I’d like to hear some comments please. So let’s hear what ya’all got to say?

    • Contact one of the major grading agencies like ANA or PCGS. They can tell you how to go about having the coin examined.

      Keep in mind that the tests I mentioned are only first-order things you can do at home to easily rule out fakes. The big grading agencies have the knowledge and techniques to evaluate the coin scientifically.

  2. I have a strange penny that’s got a different scene on the back than any penny I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a few. I just know it’s a one of a kind if it’s not fake. Is there anyone I can send a picture to? I just don’t know how to go about this as I’m a beginner.
    Please advise,


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