Don Lutes, Jr., of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, found the bronze 1943 Lincoln cent in the change he was given at his school cafeteria in 1947.
Lutes also got in touch with the Treasury Department about his find.
Their standard reply simply read: “In regard to your recent inquiry, please be informed that copper pennies were not struck in 1943. All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steel.”
So Lutes concluded his coin was probably valueless. He stored it as a curiosity in his coin collection for the next seven decades.
After Lutes passed away last year, his coin sold for more than $200,000.
In 1943, the Treasury Department requested the U.S. Mint to create Lincoln pennies on steel planchets coated with zinc. They couldn’t use copper because they were using it for the Second World War, but talk of the existence of rare copper pennies made that year soon emerged.
Rumors swirled that car giant Henry Ford would give a vehicle to anyone who could present him with one of the specimens.
However, it was later revealed some bronze planchets were mistakenly left in machinery before the so-called “steelies” were pressed.
The Heritage Auctions said that The few resulting ‘copper’ cents were lost in the flood of millions of “steel” cents struck in 1943 and escaped detection by the Mint’s quality control measures.
Between 10 to 15 of the coins with a copper appearance made in facilities including the Mints of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver are thought to exist today.
So, be mindful of those old coins in your possession.
But yes, it is extremely rare for someone to find an extremely rare coin.
If you want to collect or invest in a rare coin, make sure to get one that is certified and graded.