It has been well established in the public consciousness that the penny is worthless. There has even been movements by those in Congress to get rid of the red cent, but do pennies deserve more of our respect. Apparently, they do (or some of them). According to online numismatic database Cointrackers, there are some rare pennies, such as the 1943 copper wheat penny, with an estimated value of $85,000. What’s more, a few of these coins may still be in circulation.
Prior to World War II, the mintage of copper pennies was the norm. In 1943, copper became a more precious resource for its use in the manufacturing of ammunition and equipment for the war effort. As a result, the United States government commissioned the mintage of stainless steel pennies for use as their replacement.
During the minting process, though, a small number of copper plates from 1942 found their way into the mix of steel plates. Therefore, copper wheat pennies were introduced to the 1943 coin supply completely by mistake. The rarity of these coins can be attributed to the negligence of these mint workers.
Today, a copper wheat penny from 1943 of moderate quality can bring in $60,000 at an auction. Those coins in certified mint state are valued at $85,000.
Before you start scouring the streets for that lucky penny, keep in mind that a great number of 1943 copper wheat pennies are not authentic. It is not unheard of for some in numismatic community to try to pass off defaced 1948 coins as 1943 coins. This is done by scratching away a portion of the 8 (in 1948) until it resembles a 3.
Fret not treasure seekers, there is a way to tell if your copper wheat penny is indeed a true 1943 rarity. By holding the coin near a magnet one can determine its authenticity. If the coin is drawn to the magnet then it is not made of copper.
Remember, the aesthetics so cherished in the numismatic world are meant not only to delight the senses, but to communicate certain historical truths that may be a bit less obvious. These truths can have a massive impact on current lives, for example, making one $85,000 richer.
Here’s to affording our pocket change more than just a cursory glance.
The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.