Published: July 16, 2019
ORLANDO — Nearly 50 collectors made bids for a 1943 cent struck on a bronze planchet (XF45 PCGS) until it closed at $186,000 to take top lot honors in Heritage Auctions’ Summer FUN US coins auction July 11–14. The coin is listed among the 100 Greatest US Coins and the 100 Greatest US Error Coins, where it has been called “the most famous error coin made by the US Mint.”
Copper was a strategic material in 1943, at the height of World War II. In order to conserve resources for the war effort, Congress authorized the US Mint to strike cents on zinc-coated steel planchets in 1943, instead of the usual bronze blanks. However, it seems that a small number of bronze planchets remained stuck in the lids of the tote bins the mint used to feed the coin presses at the end of 1942. When the bins were refilled with the zinc-coated steel planchets at the start of production in 1943, those blanks became dislodged and were fed into the presses, along with the authorized steel planchets, resulting in the famous copper cent errors. Among the hundreds of millions of wartime composition steel cents produced in 1943, the few bronze examples — including this one — went unnoticed and entered circulation undetected. For many years, Mint officials categorically denied that any bronze composition cents were struck in 1943, but authentic examples are known from all three active US Mints today. The fame of the 1943 copper cents extended far beyond numismatic circles, as nationwide advertisements appeared in magazines, newspapers and comic books, offering fabulous rewards for authentic specimens. There was a widespread, but untrue, rumor that Henry Ford would exchange a new car for any legitimate 1943 copper cent (this caused the Ford Motor Company many problems for years!). For more information, www.ha.com or 877-437-4824.
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