The Lincoln penny has been in circulation since 1909. For most of the 20th century, they were mostly made of copper except for one year during World War II.
- Pennies produced before 1982 are composed of 95% copper, with the remaining 5% being that of zinc or tin.
- Pennies produced since 1982 are copper-plated, as 97.5% of the penny is actually zinc.
Due to World War II, the United States government needed massive amounts of copper for the production of small arms ammunition shells. Because of this, pennies produced in 1943 were zinc-plated steel or, in extremely rare occasions, zinc-plated copper. While the government did their best to remove the steel pennies from circulation after the war, a few remain. The pennies that were printed in copper during this period were done so in error and as such are extremely rare and valuable.
For example, in September 2010, a bronze Lincoln penny was sold to a coin collector at an auction for $1.7 million. That’s right, a one-cent coin was sold for millions of dollars! But before you start looking through your wallet or under your couch cushions for loose change, you’ll want to know what to look for.
The first thing, that you’ll want to look for is the year-stamp on the penny. If it was not produced in 1943, you are out of luck.
The next thing you’ll want to identify is the chemical composition of the penny, and this can be tricky.
One of the easiest ways you can do this is to simply look at your penny. Does the coloring of the coin look more like a traditional, copper-coated penny or is it colored more like a nickel, dime and quarter? Is it like the one pictured below?
If it looks like a nickel, dime or quarter, then it is most certainly a steel Lincoln penny. But if your 1943 Lincoln penny looks more like a traditional, copper-coated penny, you may be in luck. You may be holding in your hands the elusive and rare copper 1943 Lincoln penny. That said, the coloring of the penny is not best way to determine the chemical composition of a penny. For that, you need to perform the magnet test.
If the penny is made of steel, your penny will be magnetic. To perform the test, all you have to do is buy a simple magnet and hold it over your 1943 Lincoln penny. If the penny sticks to the magnet, voila! You are the proud owner of a 1943 steel Lincoln penny.
While it’s certainly an interesting find, steel Lincoln pennies are not worth that much, as they were not that as rare as the copper 1943 Lincoln pennies. Billions of steel Lincoln pennies were produced, while only a few dozen (if that) copper 1943 Lincoln pennies were produced.
If your steel Lincoln penny is worn out, you’ll be lucky to get anywhere between 20 to 50 cents for them. If it is in good condition, you could get anywhere between $10 to $20.
While $20 may seem like a pretty good return for a 1 cent penny, it’s nothing compared to the millions you could get if your 1943 Lincoln penny is made of copper.
To find out how you can identify if your 1943 Lincoln penny is made of copper, click on the‘Next Page’ button below! And don’t forget to SHARE this story with all of your Facebook friends.