Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey has announced that collector Bob R. Simpson, co-chairman of the Texas Rangers baseball club, has paid $1 million for the finest known 1943-S Lincoln Wheat cent on a bronze planchet. All 1943 Lincoln cents were supposed to be made on steel planchets coated with zinc. However, some bronze planchets left over from 1942 slipped into the production process. These are extremely rare and are highly sought after by error collectors.
According to a press release, it was successfully acquired by Legend after "determined negotiations" with an East Coast dealer representing the seller who is described only as "a long-time collector," according to Legend President Laura Sperber. "Mr. Simpson said, 'It's a beautiful coin.' As he held it he reminisced about the 1943 'copper' Lincoln cent he found in change when he was a youngster, but that turned out to be a fake," said Sperber. The MS62 coin is the finest of four known 1943-S bronze cents, and it is an upgrade to an example graded PCGS AU58 that was in Simpson's registry set.
What Is an off Metal Error?
When coins are minted they are produced within tight tolerances as defined by law. This usually includes diameter, thickness, metal composition and design requirements. When a law dictates a change to the coinage, the Mint must adjust its production process to accommodate the new law.
In this instance, a law was passed by the United States Congress that specified pennies beginning in 1943 must now be made out of steel instead of bronze.
How did this Error Coin Happen?
Each production facilities of The United States Mint is actually a factory that produces coins for the United States of America.
Much activity goes on in these facilities that enables them to produce billions of coins every year. While they pay close attention to the process in order to achieve world-class quality, there are some mistakes that do happen.
In this instance it is believed that planchets from the previous year (1942) which were made of bronze were still lingering in the production process. Another explanation for this error coin is that a mint employee purposefully struck a few 1943 pennies on bronze planchets. Although illegal, sometimes these do escape the security procedures of the Mint.
Why Is It so Expensive?
Since Lincoln cents are one of the most collected United States coins, demand for them is extensive. Given the unusual look of a 1943 steel Lincoln cent, a 1943 Lincoln cent made out of bronze is one of the "Holy Grail" of Lincoln error collectors. Compounding the pressure of a highly collectible coin with the fact that there are only five known examples of a 1943-S Lincoln cent made in bronze, the price will skyrocket!