Famous 1943 Cent in Bronze, AU58
1943 Cent--Struck on a Bronze Planchet--AU58 PCGS. Few coins
are so misunderstood, so mysterious, so legendary as the
1943 cents struck in bronze, known informally as the 1943 "copper"
cents. When the Mint switched from bronze to zinc-plated steel for
cent coinage, a handful of leftover bronze planchets nevertheless
found their way into the coining press and were stamped with the
date 1943. This occurred at all three Mint facilities to strike
cents that year, though a majority of the known 1943 bronze or
"copper" cents were struck in Philadelphia, not Denver or San
Francisco. Fewer than 20 are known.
Legendary Off-Metal Error Rarity
The difference between the normal steel cents of 1943 and the anomalous bronze cents of the same year has captured the imagination of generations of collectors; David Lange, in his The Complete Guide to Lincoln Cents, titled the section on the 1943 bronze cents "Error Coin Royalty." There are many more impostors than kings when it comes to the 1943 bronze cent; many genuine 1943 steel cents have been copper-plated, and even after testing with a magnet weeds out the plated pretenders, a few more deceptive fakes exist. The authenticity of this near-Mint 1943 bronze cent, however, is unimpeachable.
Almost from the outset, the 1943 bronze cents were the subject of misinformation. Henry Ford, the automobile titan, supposedly offered a new car in exchange for a 1943 "copper" cent, for example; this was not the first coin hoax centered around Ford. Erroneous prices also figure prominently into 1943 bronze cent tall tales; Lange cites a 1959 report that an example sold for $40,000, and as he notes, "Given that coins such as the 1804 silver dollar were then valued in the $10,000-$15,000 range, this figure seems fanciful."
Similarly, news dispatches in 1999 about a 1943 bronze cent supposedly spent as an ordinary coin overestimated its value; the original wire report claimed it was worth a quarter of a million dollars, a number that increased to a cool half-million as the story was retold! Still, there is a positive side to the coin's history of rumor, which was further fueled by dealers advertising to buy examples for wild sums. As authors Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth note in 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, "many of today's collectors got their start by searching for a 1943 bronze cent in pocket change."
As an AU58 example, the present 1943 bronze cent ranks highly among the known survivors; it must have circulated only briefly before it was recognized as unusual and pulled from circulation. The violet-brown and mahogany surfaces have picked up a few light abrasions, and the obverse shows a faint fingerprint pattern to the toning. A long, thin abrasion in the upper right obverse field, which passes between TRUST and Lincoln's head, is the most readily identifiable pedigree marker.
From The Kiev Collection.
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