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Impressive 1943-S Steel Cent Offered by GreatCollections

Impressive 1943-S Steel Cent Offered by GreatCollections

GreatCollections is currently auctioning a much-sought-after high Gem 1943-S steel cent, graded MS 68+ by PCGS and approved by CAC as strong for the grade(!). It is also pedigreed to the famous Red Copper Collection. Interested bidders should note that this lot closes on Sunday, January 29, 2023, at 5:55:30 PM Pacific Time (8:55 PM Eastern).

At the time of publication, the highest of 29 bids stands at $3,902 USD, with 45 days remaining for additional bidding.

With war raging across the globe, the United States Government sought ways to lessen the economic burden felt by the average citizen. Among the many other greater and lesser ways to do this, the United States Mint changed the composition of the cent from a bronze planchet to a lighter zinc-coated steel version. Not only would this save necessary war materiel (a combined 8,094 tons of copper and 100,000 pounds of tin across all Mint facilities), but it would also lighten the financial load of producing the physical money needed to finance the war; steel cost only $34 a metric ton, while copper was fixed at a price of $265 a metric ton throughout the war. This change was also used perhaps, as claimed by Mark Benvenuto in a 2000 Numismatist article, as a way of making the general public feel invested in the war effort.

In a mintage dramatically larger than their 1942 issuance of copper cents, the San Francisco Mint struck 191,550,000 steel cents during 1943. This type is still slightly rarer than those produced by the Denver and Philadelphia Mints. Due to their novelty and low value, it seems as if many were collected by the public. The particular coin being offered here, however, is in an especially high grade, with only 17 other examples earning an MS 68+. Three of these examples have recently come to market. In February and March of 2021, two earned between $15,500 and $19,500. The most recent sale, at a 2022 FUN U.S. Coins auction, however, only brought $3,840.

The Red Copper Collection of Lincoln Cents was compiled by numismatist Stewart Blay over 20 years of painstakingly searching and ultimately buying only the finest examples. So fine was this collection that John Albanese, President of CAC, remarked that “[i]t is likely we will not see another Lincoln Cent collection of this caliber in the future.”

Fully lustrous, with no signs of rust or the common zinc corrosion spots, this particular coin is practically as struck. With no circulation wear, the only detracting feature is a small bag mark on the reverse over the “N” in “CENT”.


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 1943 appears slightly lower, in front of Lincoln’s portrait, on the coin’s right side.

This coin was struck at the San Francisco Mint, so there is an “S” mintmark beneath 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 or smooth, with no lettering.

Bidding for this 1943 Steel cent ends on Sunday, January 29, 2023, at 5:55:30 PM Pacific Time (8:55 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.

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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