Copper is the most widely used metal in coin manufacturing. It’s relatively inexpensive, durable, and easy to mint. It’s also very valuable in times of war. That’s why, in 1943, the U.S. Congress suspended the use of copper in the manufacture of U.S. one-cent coins. That year, and that year only, pennies were made of steel with a thin zinc plating. They’re the only U.S. coins in circulation that don’t have at least some copper in them. That includes most gold and silver collector coins except for 99.99% gold and .999 fine silver America the Beautiful bullion coins.
Rarity and Value of Collectible 1943 Steel Cent Coins
While it’s been nearly 75 years since they were made, 1943 steel cents still occasionally turn up in circulation, although they’re getting rarer by the day. Hundreds of millions were struck, but those that remain are mostly in dealers’ or collectors’ hands.
As with all collectible coins, the value of a 1943 steel Lincoln one-cent coin varies with condition and rarity. Prices vary from around 15-20 cents to several dollars a piece, depending on quality. Pristine, graded steel pennies can go for over $100.
Design, Weight and Appearance
The 1943 steel pennies have the same design as copper “Lincoln wheat cents” but are lighter, weighing 2.70 grams as compared to their copper cousins, which are 3.11 grams in unworn condition. Because steel and zinc react with one another and both can corrode, it’s rare to find brilliant examples with the original silvery-white appearance. Most exhibit at least some tarnish, rust, or wear; on some, it can be quite extensive, ranging from grey to black or rusty orange.
Collect Brilliant Uncirculated 1943 Steel 1-Cent Coins
The Great American Coin Company is pleased to offer Brilliant Uncirculated 1943 Steel Lincoln 1-cent coins individually along with rolls of 50 circulated or cull coins and circulated coins in bags of 500 and 1,000. The coins have mixed mintages from Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver.
Incidentally, while no copper 1943 cents were made for circulation, a few were struck as tests (or by mistake). Only a handful are known to survive and one sample of a 1943-D bronze mis-strike Lincoln penny recently sold for $1.7 million. There are also some counterfeits out there, so only buy from reputable dealers with return privileges if you decide to step into the bigtime.
Collecting coins and currency is a fascinating and rewarding hobby, and 1943 Steel Lincoln pennies are inexpensive additions to a collection or portfolio. They make great novelty gifts that capture an important time in U.S. history, too.
The Great American Coin Company® offers a wide selection of collectible U.S. coins and paper money as well as currency from around the world. We keep adding unique collectibles as they become available, so be sure to visit us frequently. And while you’re there, be sure to visit our blog for interesting and timely articles about currency and precious metals.