Skip to main content

Copper Cent Rarity Goes to Auction

A well-known error rarity, the 1943 copper Lincoln cent, will go to the highest bidder when it crosses the auction block on Nov. 13. (Images courtesy GreatCollections.) 

A well-known error rarity, the 1943 copper Lincoln cent, will go to the highest bidder when it crosses the auction block on Nov. 13. (Images courtesy GreatCollections.) 

One of the most sought after and famous coin errors in the world, the 1943 copper cent, will be featured in auction firm GreatCollections’ sale on Nov. 13. Only about two-dozen examples are known in all grades.

The coin has been lightly circulated and is graded AU-50 by Professional Coin Grading Service with CAC approval. It is expected to realize more than $200,000 when bidding concludes at www.greatcollections.com.

When the U.S. Mint switched to using zinc-coated steel to produce 1943 Lincoln cents, a small number of copper planchets leftover from 1942 slipped into the buckets of the steel planchets and then into circulation.

Although there were rumors of some 1943 pennies being struck in error (using copper/bronze planchets), none were discovered until 1947, and they were instantly coveted by collectors and even appeared in magazines, comic books and newspapers.

“Over the past decade at GreatCollections, we have had countless calls, emails and letters about people purporting to have a new discovery of this famous error,” said Ian Russell, president of GreatCollections. Not a single coin was genuine, and this is only the third authentic example we have had the pleasure to handle.”

The numismatic world has been lucky to have had several opportunities to bid on 1943 copper cents over the past few years; however, almost all now reside in long-term collections, cherished by their owners. This is important to take into account when considering a bid on this iconic error coin, GreatCollections says.

In all five editions of the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, the 1943 copper cent has been ranked in the top 11. In the 5th edition, it ranks ahead of the unique 1822 gold half eagle and 1861 Paquet gold double eagle.

The cent will be available to view at the auction firm’s Irvine, Calif., headquarters by appointment. To view high-quality images and register to bid, visit www.greatcollections.com or call (800) 442-6467.