Imagine being a Philadelphia Mint employee during World War II and walking away with two 1943 cents struck in bronze rather than the standard steel as well as two other wrong-planchet errors?
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has certified a group of coins that come from the family of Mint employee Albert Michael Pratt.
These coins were previously unknown to the hobby.
They walked in the door of Florida’s West Hernando Coin Club show just months ago in January.
They were shown to John A. Zieman Jr. of Z-man’s Coins who advised the family to ship them to NGC for authentication and grading.
The two bronze 1943 cents were graded MS-62 Brown and MS-61 Brown.
The latter makes it the second finest ever graded by NGC.
Before these were found, estimates were that only 10 or 12 existed.
NGC grading finalizer and error coin specialist David J. Camire said, “1943 Lincoln cents struck on bronze planchets are one of the ‘Holy Grails’ of U.S. numismatics. It is very exciting to see two examples in a single submission."
This is especially true because the higher graded coin has a large die break on the obverse. making it the only known 1943 bronze cent with the die break.
The other two cents were struck on planchets intended for use in foreign coinage being struck by the Mint at the time.
A 1942 cent struck on a 20-centavos planchet for Ecuador was graded MS-63.
A 1943 cent was struck on a Netherlands 25-cent planchet. It grades NGC MS-61.
“It is extremely unusual to see wrong- planchet error cents from this time period,” said Camire. “Recent appearances of such errors are few and far between.”
What happens now besides high values at public auction or private-treaty sale?
The only known 1943-D bronze cent sold for $1.7 million in a private sale in 2010.
Though the Philadelphia bronzes are more common and would likely bring less, this figure is still a cause for excitement.
But on the side of caution, the family will probably keep in mind that a 1974-D aluminum cent traced to a Denver Mint employee was taken by the government last year after a couple of years of legal proceedings.
It, too, would have been the star of a major auction.
But let’s end on a cheerful note for the family.
The $1.7 million 1943-D bronze cent came from heirs of a Denver Mint employee. It had sold previously in an Ira and Larry Goldberg sale in 2003 for $212,750.
There obviously had been no government action.
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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