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?"
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.
As the 1943 steel pennies circulated, the zinc coating started to turn dark gray and almost black. If it was in circulation long enough, the zinc coating completely wore off and the steel underneath would start to show through. When exposed to moisture the penny would start to rust. In an effort to "revive" some of the original beauty, some unscrupulous coin dealer's started to re-plate the steel pennies with a fresh coating of zinc. These are considered damage coins and carry little to no value.
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 planchet metal when the coin was struck, but very, very few of these actually left the Mint. These error coin were not intentional. Some copper planchets left over from the previous year got stuck in the corners of the gigantic bins that moved the blank planchets around the mint.
When they became dislodged they were mixed in with the regular zinc plated steel planchets and processed through the coining presses.
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