1944 Steel Cent, Borderline Uncirculated
1944 1C -- Struck on a Zinc-Coated Steel Planchet -- AU58
PCGS. 2.78 gm, similar to the expected 2.70 gm weight of a
zinc-coated steel cent. Since copper was an important metal to U.S.
forces fighting World War II, the composition of cents was changed
in 1943 from bronze to zinc-plated steel. The steel cents proved
highly unpopular in commerce, since they were readily confused with
dimes, which had a similar color and diameter. In 1944, cents
returned to a bronze alloy, with the copper purportedly secured
from salvaged cartridge cases. Though billions of cents were struck
in 1943 and 1944, no bronze cents were supposed to be struck in
1943, and no steel cents were supposed to be struck in 1944.
Among Finest Known
Off-metal Lincoln cents from 1943 and 1944 rank among the most coveted rarities of the series. Best known among those are the 1943 cents struck on planchets made of bronze instead of steel. 1944-dated steel cents are nearly as famous, and are ardently pursued by collectors ambitious enough to seek a complete six-piece off-metal 1943 and 1944 PDS set.
The Philadelphia Mint in 1944 struck 25,000,000 Belgian 2 franc pieces on zinc-coated steel planchets; a production that provided additional opportunities for the inadvertent coining of 1944 steel cents. However, the variety remains rare. Heritage has auctioned only eight different examples since 2000, in grades between AU58 and XF Details, Corroded.
The present near-Mint representative displays essentially unbroken cartwheel sheen. The strike is incomplete on the hair above the ear, and on the O in ONE, expected since steel is a harder alloy than bronze, but there is no incontrovertible evidence of circulation wear. There is no consequential marks or spots, but we note a drop of translucent lacquer residue near 6 o'clock on the reverse.
Ex: Rosemont Central States (Heritage, 4/2008), lot 2245.
From The Geyer Family Collection.
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
View all of [The Geyer Family Collection ]
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