1943 Copper Penny Found in a High School Cafeteria Set to Fetch Millions at Auction

Posted by Derek Sawchenko on

1943 extremely rare copper Lincoln penny obverse

In 1947, Don Lutes Jr. bought lunch from his high school cafeteria and noticed something strange about his change. One of the pennies he received had a copper tint to it. Normally, this would be fine for most pennies, however, the date on this penny was 1943. Lutes Jr. knew that pennies from that date were always made of steel. This was due to the Military's needs during World War II. 

Lutes Jr. thought the penny looked very unique and thought it must be of some value. He contacted the US Treasury and they told him that all pennies from that date were made from steel. Whether due to lack of knowledge or trying to cover up, this was the generic response that the US Treasury was known to give. 

Despite it apparently not being real and not being of value, Lutes Jr. thought it was interesting and added it to his collection.  There are only a handful of these error pennies that are known to exist today.

Unfortunately, Lutes Jr. recently passed away. Now, his penny is up for auction from January 10th to January 13th during the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Show in Orlando. At the time of writing, the current bid is up to $130,000 and it is projected to go over $1 million dollars. 


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