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Rare Lincoln Penny Exceeds $1 Million In Sale

Everett Millman
By Everett Millman
Published January 27, 2018

It can come as quite a shock that some rare coins sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars—or more.

Believe it or not, this is fairly common on the high end of the numismatic market.

Over the past fifteen years, there have been a handful of coins that even reach into seven-figure territory.

Would you ever guess that one of these million-dollar coins was actually a penny?

Lincoln Cent Rarities Arise Due to Errors at the Mint

1943 and 1944 are two of the strangest years in the history of the Lincoln penny.

Due to World War II, the U.S. government needed to divert copper production to the war effort, not to minting coins. As a result, pennies issued in 1943 were made from zinc-clad steel instead.

This was a one-year type. In 1944, production of pennies using the regular copper alloy resumed.

However, as is sometimes the case at government mints, a small number of mistakes slipped through the cracks in 1943 and 1944.

A handful of one-cent coins were mistakenly struck with the normal bronze composition in 1943. Perhaps as few as 15 of these coins are known to exist.

Interestingly enough, the reverse mistake was made in 1944: A few steel pennies were issued by accident. Technically, that makes both groups of these rare pennies error coins.

Rare Bronze 1943 Penny Sparks Excitement

One of the handful of extant 1943 bronze cents recently traded hands at the unbelievable sale price of more than $1 million. The story was reported by Coin Update.

“It’s always exciting when there’s another million-dollar coin sale," Mike Sherman, PCGS's Director of Education, told Coin Update.

This Lincoln penny was graded Mint State 63 (MS63) Red by PCGS, the leading third-party grading company. The "Red" designation distinguishes it from "Brown" cents that have completely lost their luster.

1943 copper penny Another example of a 1943 bronze cent. Image courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts

The MS63 grade also means this coin is the finest-known 1943 bronze penny in the world.

A pair of lower-grade examples of the same type of penny made appearances at the recent Winter FUN Show in Tampa, Florida.

You're probably asking yourself: Is this the most valuable penny ever? In a word, yes!

 

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Posted In: blog
Everett Millman

Everett Millman

Managing Editor | Analyst, Commodities and Finance

Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.

In addition to blogging, Everett's work has been featured in Reuters, CNN Business, Bloomberg Radio, TD Ameritrade Network, CoinWeek, and has been referenced by the Washington Post.