I had an email this morning from someone who had a couple of copper-colored 1943 cents.
He knew that he had to test them with a magnet to see if they really were steel underneath the reddish brown color.
Both coins were attracted to the magnet.
He correctly concluded that the coins were steel coins.
He wrote me anyway.
He had a question.
Was he missing something?
Alas, he wasn’t.
He knew the full story and I can add nothing to it.
I suppose I could have told him my story from high school chemistry. The teacher had a personal memory of the hard times of the Depression and of World War II.
Our class topic was the electroplating process.
The teacher recalled that he had copper plated a silver dime when he was first exposed to the wonders of this aspect of science.
Unfortunately, he lost track of it and he said he inadvertently spent it as a cent.
He was sore that he had lost out on nine cents of value. Money was hard to come by.
What did he do?
He turned right around and silver plated a copper cent.
Then he spent it as a dime – and didn’t get caught.
He said he felt terrible after he did it.
That’s a story that comes to my mind when plated 1943 steel cents are the topic of discussion. Also coming to mind is the fact that enough members of the public mistakenly thought the steel 1943 cents were dimes when they were newly released that the merchant who accepted my chemistry teacher’s cent as a dime was not the only one who was burned by just looking at a coin’s color.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”