How Rare is a 1943 Penny?

1943-D Lincoln Cent Made out of Zinc Plated Steel
1943-D Lincoln Cent Made out of Zinc Plated Steel. Edited by: James Bucki

Question

One of the most frequently asked questions I get (right behind "How rare are two-headed coins?") is "How rare is my 1943 silver penny?"

Answer

The answer depends on what the 1943 penny is made out of. If it is silvery in color, it is made out of steel (with a zinc coating to make it look nicer). They are fairly common in good condition, since people tended to squirrel them away when they were issued because they were unusual.

Learn more about the 1943 Steel Penny.

The Rare 1943 Penny

If the 1943 penny is made out copper, it is worth quite a bit of money, generally $10,000 or more! The reason is that the 1943 copper penny is an error coin. The Mint accidentally used the wrong kind of lanchet metal when the coin was struck, but very, very few of these actually left the Mint. Unfortunately, there are plenty of fake 1943 copper cents floating around. Some were intended to be novelty items, and are just steel pennies dipped, or plated, in copper. Others are fraud attempts, where someone has taken a genuine 1948 copper penny and cut the 8 in half, making it look like a 3. Fortunately, there are very easy tests to determine if your 1943 copper penny is genuine.

What to Do If You Think You Have the Rare 1943  Lincoln Penny

If you have performed the test is described above  and you truly believe your 1943 Lincoln penny is the rare copper variety,  you need to have it authenticated by a professional.

Ultimately, you need to send it to a third party grading service to have it authenticated and encapsulated. Unfortunately, this can cost between thirty dollars and fifty dollars to have your coin authenticated.

Before you waste your money sending your coin to a third party grading service only to have it come back as an altered or counterfeit coin, here's a few things you should do:

  • Take your coin to a local coin dealer and have the dealer look at it. Most coin dealers who have been around for a while have seen enough counterfeit and altered coins to know the difference. They will be able to give you an educated opinion before you invest the money to have it sent to a third party grading service.
  • Take your coin to a local coin show and have several dealers look at it and give you their opinion. Do not let it out to your site or let them take it in "the back room"where you will Lucite of it. Unfortunately, there are some dishonest coin dealers that will try to switch your authentic coin with a altered or counterfeit coin.
  • If a majority of the dealers think it is authentic, then you should invest the money and sending it to a third party grading service. If a majority of them think it is an altered or counterfeit coin, don't waste your money having it professionally authenticated and encapsulated.

Edited by: James Bucki