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Time for a steel cycle?

Gold is making headlines. Silver is making headlines. Steel is not, unless you are watching the news about anti-dumping complaints against China.

However, steel could be making headlines again in numismatics just because questions about 1943 steel cents pop up from time to time.

For some reason, these questions go in cycles. This was true before the Internet when we couldn’t even measure trending topics.

I have not had a 1943 cent question in quite some time.

This changed in my morning email.

Perhaps fears of a new recession are sending people back to checking what hidden assets they might have.

This is the text of the email I received:

“My name is Dennis I have 98 1943 pennys and 15 1943 D pennys . Didn’t know who to talk to found you on line, can you help?”

I responded:

“Standard issue pennies of 1943 are made of steel and are quite common. The valuable cents of that date were made of copper and there are just a dozen or so of them.

“If the coins look copper, use a magnet. If the coins are attracted to it, they are steel. Copper is not magnetic and would not be attracted to a magnet.”

Since it has been a while since I have written such a response, I will have to brush up again on the exact number of copper cents there are.

This is necessary as I expect I will receive more inquiries if this is the beginning of a new wave.

Because of the large number of coins cited by Dennis, I figured they are simply standard steel issues.

I could have added that altered 1948 cents have historically been used to fool people and evade the magnet test, but because of the large numbers of coins in question, I doubt that any of them are altered 1948 pieces unless somehow Dennis stumbled onto someone’s old stash of fraudulent coins.

Did he buy them online from China?

In this day and age it is a possibility, but the way the email is written makes it seem most unlikely. He would have mentioned they were made of copper in that case.

Will there be another round of 1943 cent inquiries?

I actually hope so, because it will be a nice change of pace from the topic of bullion.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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