Rare 1943 copper coin could fetch a pretty penny in auction

Set of old shells from World War II

The penny is now up for auction and as of Wednesday morning the current bid was $120,000.

In 1943, the Treasury Department requested the U.S. Mint create Lincoln pennies on steel planchets coated with zinc in order to preserve cooper for use in the Second World War. The young coin collector made a decision to keep the cent in his collection for more than 70 years, until he died in September.

In 1947, MA teenager Don Lutes Jr, who was just 16 at the time, was given a rare 1943 Lincoln penny in his change after buying his lunch from the school cafeteria, Fox News reports.

Those bronze planchets then fed into the coin press, leading to the creation of several coins that were "lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents struck in 1943".

But a handful of the coins were mistakenly pressed with copper and Don Lutes Jr. discovered one of them in his change from his MA high school lunch in the forties.

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Today, the Dallas-based auction house describes the 1943 bronze Lincoln cent as "the most famous error coin in American numismatics".

This mysterious and ultra-valuable coin Lutes came across? Those planchets went unnoticed when the bins were refilled with zinc-coated steel planchets in 1943, Heritage Auctions said. Lutes had reached out to the Ford company about his find, but he was informed the rumor wasn't true. Over the years, after many inquiries and attempts to buy it, he contacted the US Treasury, but was told the coin was "fraudulent" and that all 1943 pennies were zinc coated steel, with no exceptions.

The U.S. Mint denied that any copper pennies were pressed, but reports began to circulate that the error coins were being found by the public. When they became dislodged, they were printed and circulated with the millions of steel copies.

Around 10 years after Lutes had given up on trying to monetize his find, a 14-year-old from California had his coin authenticated and placed in the 1958 ANA Convention Auction. Heritage Auctions, which is overseeing the sale, estimates the coin is worth at least $170,000.

The teenager held on to the penny, thinking he would sell it one day.

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