Money

You Could Have A Rare Penny Worth Thousands—Or Even Millions—Of Dollars In Your Wallet

Check your change!

Do you have a penny collection somewhere in your house? Before you cash them in, you might want to see if you have a 1943 penny.

If you have a rare version of this coin, you might have something that could be worth thousands of dollars. This isn’t just any 1943 penny, though. It is a copper penny that slipped through the cracks and made history.

A Mint Mistake

pennies photo
Getty Images | Tim Boyle

Before 1982, the U.S. Mint stamped pennies from primarily copper. Eventually, this cost the government too much money to produce. So, they switched to mostly materials such as zinc to save some money.

However, in 1943, the government stopped making copper pennies. The U.S. was fighting in World War II at the time and, because of the war, demand for copper was high. Therefore, the U.S. Mint decided to use steel to strike the new pennies.

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Still, coin collectors believe a few copper and even bronze pennies managed to slip into circulation during 1943. Collectors from as far back as 1960 started questioning the origin of these coins. At the time, the U.S. Mint denied their existence.

Eventually, though, the U.S. Mint confirmed that a few of these coins—known as error coins—made it into public circulation. Experts believe about 40 of these copper pennies may still be in existence.

But it is the bronze penny that is the “holy grail” for many collectors. According to the Professional Coin Grading Service, only 20 of these pennies were struck in bronze.

These bronze coins came from the Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver mints when they accidentally used old bronze plates to make new coins.

How Much Is This 1943 Penny Worth?

coins photo 1943 penny
Getty Images | Alex Wong

If you happen to find a 1943 penny, you can test it to see what metal it was cast in. If the penny is magnetic, then it is made of steel. If it’s not magnetic, you could have a copper or bronze penny.

But, what does mean for value?

Copper 1943 pennies in good condition could be worth about $85,000 on the collectors’ market.

Got a bronze 1943 penny? You might have hit a jackpot! In 2010, a coin collector sold a Denver-minted bronze penny for $1.7 million!

“The 1943-D bronze cent is the most valuable cent in the world, and it took four years of aggressive negotiations with the coin’s owner until he agreed to sell it,” said Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics.

Even if your 1943 penny is made of steel, it could be worth more than its face value. In fact, a steel 1943 penny is worth up to 50 cents.

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So, start searching those pennies!