Rare penny sells for $204,000 at Florida auc­tion

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE -

OR­LANDO — A rare 1943 bronze Lin­coln penny has sold for more than $200,000 at a Florida auc­tion.

Her­itage Auc­tions says more than 30 peo­ple bid on the rare coin Thurs­day night. Only 10 to 15 of these pen­nies, mis­tak­enly minted in bronze in­stead of steel, are be­lieved to ex­ist. They were made at a time when bronze and cop­per were be­ing saved to fill metal short­ages dur­ing World War II.

The auc­tion house says Don Lutes found the penny in his pocket as a teenager in 1947 af­ter get­ting some change at his Mas­sachusetts high school cafe­te­ria, and held onto it ever since.

Lutes died in Septem­ber. He di­rected all pro­ceeds from the sale to be do­nated to the Berk­shire Athenaeum at the pub­lic li­brary in Pitts­field, Mass.

Cop­per pen­nies from that year typ­i­cally don’t look very dif­fer­ent from the coin as it ap­pears to­day, but it does look dif­fer­ent from the ones man­u­fac­tured in 1943. That year, the one-cent coin was sup­posed to be struck in steel so to pre­serve cop­per for more high pri­or­ity-uses dur­ing World War II. Some cop­per left over from pen­nies past man­aged to make its way into the presses, re­sult­ing in coins struck with the wrong ma­te­rial.

“Sto­ries ap­peared in news­pa­pers, comic books and mag­a­zines and a num­ber of fake cop­per-plated steel cents were passed off as fab­u­lous rar­i­ties to un­sus­pect­ing pur­chasers,” ac­cord­ing to the Her­itage Auc­tions web­site. “De­spite the mount­ing num­ber of re­ported finds, the Mint stead­fastly de­nied any cop­per spec­i­mens that had been struck in 1943.”

The Mint sim­i­larly de­nied Lutes dis­cov­ered such a coin when he placed an in­quiry with the Trea­sury Depart­ment re­gard­ing his find.

“In re­gard to re­cent in­quiry, please be in­formed that cop­per pen­nies were not struck in 1943,” the re­sponse read. “All pen­nies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steal.”

It was enough for him to give up on au­then­ti­cat­ing the coin and he opted in­stead to keep it in his col­lec­tion. Lutes died in Septem­ber and his coin will be up for auc­tion through Jan. 9, Fox News re­ported.


A rare 1943 bronze Lin­coln penny has sold for more than $200,000 at a Florida auc­tion.

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