1943 Steel Penny Value: How Much They Are Worth Now

Most steel pennies are worth between 20 cents and 20 dollars. Prices for 1943 penny error coins, like the 1943-D doubled mintmark variety, can reach several hundred dollars.

For the most reliable information on coin values and coin collecting, trust precious metals experts rather than craft and hobby websites.

What Are Steel Pennies?

Steel pennies are Lincoln Wheat cents made in 1943. That year, the U.S. Mint made pennies out of steel in order to conserve copper for the war effort in World War II. In 1944 the mint went back to making pennies with the normal copper composition.

There are few vintage coins as widely collected as the 1943 steel Lincoln penny. This applies within and even beyond the numismatic realm. This unusual-looking Lincoln Wheat cent is unlike any other United States one-cent coin.

Its zinc-coated steel composition makes this coin resemble a dime more than a typical U.S. penny. But why were these odd coins made, what are they worth, and how does a hobbyist go about collecting 1943 steel cents?

Ed. note: This article is periodically updated to reflect the current value of 1943 steel cents.

lincoln wheat cent steel

1943 Lincoln Wheat cent, steel composition. Image: USA CoinBook

Listen to this post about the 1943 steel penny or keep reading below:



1943 Copper Pennies Are Insanely Valuable

A small handful of pennies produced in 1943 were mistakenly made with the normal bronze alloy containing 95% copper and 5% tin.

The 1943 copper penny is extremely rare and valuable. Only a couple dozen pieces were made and exist today, and each is worth about $100,000.

The record price for a 1943 copper Lincoln penny is over $1,700,000 at auction in 2010.

While 1943 copper cents weigh about 3.11 grams and don’t stick to a magnet, the more common steel cents (which weigh 2.7 grams) adhere to a magnet. When it comes to evaluating 1943 Lincoln cents, the duo of a magnet and gram scale has broken many hearts and burst many bubbles over the years.

Why Was the Lincoln Cent Was Made of Steel in 1943?

The steel penny may seem like a random anomaly to some. Yet the coin has a vital connection to an international historical event. The 1943 steel cent was produced during the height of World War II. This global conflict saw the United States military's involvement from 1941 through 1945.

During World War II, the Allied Forces needed many essential resources to help optimize success in the war. These materials, including copper and nickel, were used for producing ammunition and artillery.

However, copper and nickel were also integral in making coins. Thus, alternative metals were considered for minting coins. These coins traditionally consisted mostly of copper and nickel.

Therefore, the Lincoln cent and Jefferson nickel became prime targets for temporary but necessary metallic alterations. An act of Congress in 1942 approved a provisional 35% silver composition for the nickel. This paved the way for an emergency composition for the one-cent coin as well.

A litany of tests and patterns followed for the emergency composition, including plastic and glass. The most cost-effective replacement metal for the Lincoln penny was determined to be a 99% steel planchet with a thin layer of zinc plating. These zinc-coated steel planchets represented an efficient and affordable way to make the 1943 pennies while rationing copper for the war effort. The diameter remained 19.05 mm and the portrait of Abraham Lincoln stayed the same.

However, many in the public were less than thrilled with the alternative composition. The steel cents were often confused with the dime, causing some folks to lose 9 cents (or more) in a cash transaction. Others blasted the coins for their tendency to quickly rust once the outer zinc coating wore off the coin, exposing the steel core.

The United States Mint eventually acquiesced to the concerns of the public. After just one year, in 1944 the US Mint resumed using a copper-based composition for the Lincoln cent. This was accomplished by using copper shell casings gathered from military training facilities. These so-called shell case cents, struck through 1946, consist of 95% copper and 5% zinc. This is somewhat different than the typical 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc composition generally used at the time for producing Wheat pennies.

1943 Steel Cent Value

Most 1943 steel Lincoln pennies aren’t worth much above their face value (one cent).

This may come as something of a surprise to the many who believe these coins are quite valuable. That common misperception likely stems from the popularity of the well-known 1943 bronze cents. This off-metal transitional error was accidentally struck when a few leftover 1942 copper planchets were fed through the presses at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints.

The 1943 steel cents are quite common, and more than 1 billion were struck for circulation. Broken down by each mint, the individual mintages are as follows:

  • 1943 Philadelphia Mint cents – 684,628,670
  • 1943-D Denver Mint cents – 217,660,000
  • 1943-S San Francisco cents – 191,550,000

Many 1943 steel cents ultimately corroded beyond recognition or were otherwise lost to time. However, there are still millions of collectible 1943 pennies out there. Hence, these are common coins and are worth relatively little collector value in circulated grades.

Most 1943 Lincoln pennies in worn grades (average condition) trade for around 10 cents to 25 cents apiece. Typical examples in uncirculated condition usually realize $1 to $5. Top-level specimens in grades of Mint State-67 or better can go for much more, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

How Rare Is the 1943 Steel Penny?

There are also some significant varieties among the 1943 steel cents, including the 1943-D/D repunched mintmark. This widely collected variety is worth more than $100 in Extremely Fine-40 and upward of $400 in Mint State-63. While there is no known mintage figure for the 1943-D/D Lincoln cent, it’s estimated that perhaps 3,000 to 5,000 examples may exist across all grades.

Otherwise, non-error steel cents are not in themselves rare. Their value lies in their novelty. How much a steel penny is worth is very dependent on the condition of the coin.

What About 1944 Steel Cents?

1944 steel Lincoln cent

1944 steel Lincoln cent. Image: PCGS

As mentioned above, 1943 copper pennies are rare and valuable. Their steel counterparts are much more common. Ironically, the transition back to the normal bronze composition in 1944 reversed this situation!

1944 bronze cents are common, but a few of the steel-coated zinc coins were minted that year by mistake. Thus, 1944 steel cents are exceptionally scarce and command very high values.

Confusing which is which between the two years could cost you dearly in your coin collection.

Collecting the 1943 Lincoln Penny

Many coin collectors include the various 1943 pennies among their larger collections of Lincoln cents. However, the trio of business-strike Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco 1943 Lincoln steel cents constitute a very popular one-year short set. This set is commonly sold in mass-market offerings. Often they are “reprocessed” (stripped and recoated) pieces assembled in plastic display cases. Then they are sold via general-readership newspaper and magazine advertisements.

There is no right or wrong way to collect 1943 Lincoln cents. Given their novelty, they also make great gifts. Steel pennies have helped spark numismatic interests in folks who otherwise may not have become coin collectors. They can be collected as part of a short set or incorporated into a larger run of Lincoln cents. Indeed, the 1943 steel pennies are favorites among non-numismatists and veteran coin collectors alike.


Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor, and blogger who has won multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He has also authored numerous books, including works profiling the history of the United States Mint and United States coinage.

More about rare coins and coin values from the author:

Are Silver & Gold Magnetic? Here's How to Test Your Silver & Gold

Buffalo Nickel (1913–1938): Values & History

What Dimes Are Worth Money?

Mercury Dime (1916–1945): Values & History

Washington Quarters: Key Dates & Varieties

The Most Valuable Kennedy Half Dollars

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Ronald | 2/11/2024
I have fore or five 1943s no mint mark Denver, San Francisco, I believe three of each and a couple extra, what I really have is a 1994 D that looks like a steel Lincoln penny ( but it's not ) a magnet willnt stick to it, and it wt's 2.47 some collector told me that I was lucky to find that in a penny roll. Maybe So But if you know anyone or anything about it please let me know, thank you for your time and help on this matter. I have the penny book from 1940 up to 1959 and a lot of 1982s small dates Thank you for your time and help on this matter
1 Reply
Everett | 2/13/2024
Hi Ronald. My best guess about your 1994-D penny is that the outer layer of copper was scraped off or somehow removed. (I've heard that sometimes students in science classes will do this using electrolysis.) The exposed layer of zinc will look similar to the color of a steel penny if this is the case. That may also explain why the weight is slightly lower than normal. It sounds like you have a great collection of Lincoln cents going!
0 Reply
Ronald | 2/11/2024
I have fore or five 1943s no mint mark Denver, San Francisco, I believe three of each and a couple extra, what I really have is a 1994 D that looks like a steel Lincoln penny ( but it's not ) a magnet willnt stick to it, and it wt's 2.47 some collector told me that I was lucky to find that in a penny roll. Maybe So But if you know anyone or anything about it please let me know, thank you for your time and help on this matter. I have the penny book from 1940 up to 1959 and a lot of 1982s small dates Thank you for your time and help on this matter
0 Reply
Ronald | 2/11/2024
I have fore or five 1943s no mint mark Denver, San Francisco, I believe three of each and a couple extra, what I really have is a 1994 D that looks like a steel Lincoln penny ( but it's not ) a magnet willnt stick to it, and it wt's 2.47 some collector told me that I was lucky to find that in a penny roll. Maybe So But if you know anyone or anything about it please let me know, thank you for your time and help on this matter.
0 Reply
Bernard | 1/22/2024
I have a 1943 penny steel wheat no mint mark an for thinking what good shape it was in . I realize it not worth but a few bucks . I'm really fascinated by a lot of coins I have all my wheat penny 1938 ,43,44,46,52,57 ill keep looking for my Dream Lincoln Thanks for your help
1 Reply
Bernard | 1/22/2024
I have a 1943 penny steel wheat no mint mark an for thinking what good shape it was in . I realize it not worth but a few bucks . I'm really fascinated by a lot of coins I have all my wheat penny 1938 ,43,44,46,52,57 ill keep looking for my Dream Lincoln Thanks for your help
0 Reply
Scott | 12/4/2023
I have a 1943 copper penny. It does stick to a magnet. Which means its fake. I swear it looks legit. I aquired this from my grandfather. He aquired it in Hawaii in WWII. He lived his adult life thinking it was real. He told me he was offered big money for it while he was in Hawaii. I dont know. Any info or insight on it would be appreciated.
1 Reply
Everett | 12/5/2023
Hi Scott. You're right, unfortunately if it sticks to a magnet then it's a normal 1943 steel penny. The coin was likely coated in a thin layer of copper before your grandfather came into possession of it. Given that there are only around thirty 1943 copper pennies known to exist, it may still be worth submitting the coin to a grading company to confirm what you have.
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Ken | 11/7/2023
I have three uncirculated pennies, 1943 P, 1943 S, 1943 D. Any idea on value? Should I pass on to the next generation?
1 Reply
Everett | 11/8/2023
Hey Ken. If they're uncirculated (mint state), then they may each be worth $10 to $20. Check to see if the 1943-D has any doubled die features, because that could be worth hundreds. I would definitely pass those on to your children/grandchildren.
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Angela | 10/27/2023
I bought a roll of 1943 steel wheat pennies. I found 2 that have some interesting errors on them. I have looked into the errors and have been unsuccessful. Here seems like a good place for information, One has a dimple above the 1943 d date the dimple pushes through to the back. The other has interesting marks as well. Any thoughts?
1 Reply
Everett | 11/1/2023
Hi Angela. I'm not familiar with any mint errors that look like a dimple, so I believe that is probably damage to the coin after it left the mint.
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Kevin | 9/4/2023
I have over $50 of the steel Pennie’s in bank wrappers that appear to be in perfect condition. Don’t know if being at the bank automatically considers them to be in circulation but they show no sign of wear. My grandfather said he got them from the bank when they arrived for the first time. Could these possibly be more valuable than individual random steel Pennie’s? I would appreciate any input and also wonder about their value. Thank you, Kevin
1 Reply
Angela | 10/27/2023
I would be interested in some of these as well. I think you have a great thing.
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Gary | 9/6/2023
Kevin, are you considering selling any of the rolls? I would be in the market for a few of them. I have been collecting coins and currency for about 40 years and have always had a real liking and appreciation for the 1943 steel cents. Gary gadkinsrt@gmail.com
0 Reply
Everett | 9/5/2023
Hi Kevin. Yes, in some cases a collector may pay more for an unsearched bank roll of coins compared to the individual coins. That applies to steel pennies as well as any other denomination of collectible coins. The reason is because the buyer may stumble across an overlooked rarity or special variety by searching through the bank roll.
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Phill | 9/13/2023
Hi Everett, I also have an uncirculated original bank wrapped roll of the 1943 (P) steel cents. Would it be unwise to open the roll up to see if there are any rare or special variety types within? Like a copper variant. What kind of lost value would there be if there is nothing rare or special found? Would you keep the bank wrapped roll in tact if you owned them? Thank you, Phill
1 Reply
Everett | 9/14/2023
Hey Phill. That's a great question. For steel cents specifically, the chances of finding a special variety are somewhat low. Perhaps you find one or two coins in the roll that are worth a few extra dollars. (Of course, if you do find the rare and elusive copper 1943 cent, then it would be worth tens of thousands of bucks.) Unfortunately I think it's highly unlikely that someone mistakenly put a copper penny in the roll, so if it were me I'd probably keep the roll intact and sell it that way.
1 Reply
Samuel | 9/2/2023
Hey I have a silver 1944 wheat penny . Is it worth anything ?
1 Reply
Everett | 9/5/2023
Hey Samuel. Any 1944 steel penny (which would appear silver-colored) is exceptionally rare and valuable. It's much more likely your coin is a common 1944 Wheat penny that has been coated in an outer layer of metal to make it look like zinc-coated steel. Sorry for the disappointment! But it's certainly worth getting the coin authenticated to find out if it's real!
0 Reply
Melissa | 8/10/2023
I’ve just received a sleeved 1943 no mint steel penny in pristine condition. No wear on either side or edges. What do you think the estimated value would be of my coin?
1 Reply
Everett | 8/11/2023
Hi Melissa. Most likely a steel penny in that condition would be worth between $1 and $10.
0 Reply
Phillip | 5/4/2023
I have 2 1943 steel wheat pennies . One is 1943 D and the second has no mint markings both are in excellent condition. I’m looking for value and a buyer can you help ?
1 Reply
Everett | 5/5/2023
Hi Phillip. You could list it for sale on eBay, but I would suggest checking your local coin shop first. If you go to the NGC website (ngccoin dot com), you will find a Coin Dealer Directory under the Resources tab.
0 Reply
Linda | 4/22/2023
Hi Mr: Joshua McMorrow Herdandez I have a collection of coins. I was wondering is my US cent from 1943 and 1944s are worth any money. Can you give me an advised or guide me in the right dirrection to find out more about my coin collection. Thank you in advance any help would be greatly appreciated ?? Sincerely: Linda G.
0 Reply
Jules | 4/15/2023
I have a silver wheat penny that only has a 19 for the date and has no mint mark. Just wondering if u have any info about it.
0 Reply
Everett | 4/17/2023
Hi Jules. My best guess is that the last two digits of the date have been worn away over time. Since your wheat penny has a silver color, it's almost certainly a 1943 steel cent. Hope that helps!
0 Reply
Daniel | 4/13/2023
I found recently a 1984 penny with some raised ridges on the obverse. I kept it and put it in the fold and staple. That is when I noticed the Memorial was not parallel to the obverse (about 15 degrees off kilter). Where can I get this misprint evaluated?
1 Reply
Everett | 4/17/2023
Hey Daniel. It sounds like a misalignment error (a misaligned die strike). The best way to determine its value would be to submit it to a third-party grading service such as NGC or PCGS.
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Glenn | 4/9/2023
I have 6 1943 Stell Cents, they are not graded, 2 are D's one is an S, and the rest are no mint marks, should I get these graded to see their actual value, I am hesitant as it may cost more to get them graded than they are worth? Thank You
0 Reply
Glenn | 4/9/2023
I have 6 1943 Stell Cents, they are not graded, 2 are D's one is an S, and the rest are no mint marks, should I get these graded to see their actual value, I am hesitant as it may cost more to get them graded than they are worth? Thank You
1 Reply
Everett | 4/10/2023
Hey Glenn. You're right, the grading fees will likely cost more than the coins are worth. Take a close look at their condition. If the coins show any signs of wear, they are probably worth around $1. If they are in truly pristine condition, however, they could be worth up to $10 for the D mintmarks and up to $25 for the S mintmarks.
0 Reply
Glenn | 4/9/2023
I have 6 1943 Stell C
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Jackie | 3/6/2023
I have a 1982 no mint penny that is blank on the back, how much is that worth?
0 Reply
Everett | 3/7/2023
Hi Jackie. There are a number of varieties of the 1982 penny because the mint was transitioning from a bronze composition to a zinc composition for the coin. So it's possible that your coin is a mint error. However, it could also be the result of excessive wear to the reverse of the coin. I would suggest submitting it for grading at NGC or PCGS to find out if it's a valuable error.
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Kelli | 2/28/2023
I have two 1944 penny's one with D mint one with no mint. I also have 1943 steel penny with no mint. Any value?
0 Reply
Everett | 3/1/2023
Hi Kelli. Each of the two 1944 pennies could be worth around $5 or more, depending on their condition. The 1943 steel penny with no mintmark is usually worth between $3 and $10.
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Brenda | 2/24/2023
The 2 I have no mint brown in color and weighs 2.7 grams.
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Brenda | 2/24/2023
The 2 I have no mint brown in color and weighs 2.7 grams.
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Judith | 2/10/2023
How much is 1944d steel penny I have one
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Ivan | 5/27/2023
Como es el color?
0 Reply
Everett | 2/14/2023
Hi Judith. There are only 7 known 1944-D steel pennies in existence. If you do have one, it would be worth tens of thousands of dollars. I definitely recommend getting it authenticated!
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Ivan | 5/27/2023
I have one from 1944, I don't know how to tell if it's made of steel or copper, almost the same color, it's just a lighter yellow
0 Reply
Will | 12/18/2022
I can take pictures of them if need
0 Reply
Will | 12/18/2022
I can take pictures of them if need
0 Reply
zlfskywalker | 12/19/2022
What pic
0 Reply
Everett | 5/9/2022
Does anyone think the mint will change the composition of the penny again? (Right now, the government loses money on every penny it issues.)
1 Reply