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    1944 Steel Cent, MS63
    Ex: Bob Simpson
    Underrated Off-Metal Error Coin

    1944 1C Struck on a Zinc-Coated Steel Planchet MS63 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Simpson. The 1943 bronze cents are by far the most famous error coins and the only ones well-known even in non-numismatic American pop culture. Their close relatives, the 1944 steel cents, are less renowned, but high-grade examples are nonetheless quite rare. That spells opportunity for more than one bidder, given that we offer five 1944 steel cents, all pedigreed to the Bob Simpson Collection, in the current Platinum Night session -- three from Philadelphia and one each from Denver and San Francisco. Two 1943 bronze cents, one from Philadelphia (ex: Simpson) and one from San Francisco (from another consignor), complete an amazing cornucopia of off-metal errors in this Platinum Night auction.

    The recently published (2010) 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins by Nicholas P. Brown, David J. Camire, and Fred Weinberg lends interesting perspective on the 1943 bronze cents and the 1944 "steelies." The 1943 bronze cents are listed in the #4 spot, with an estimate of 24 to 30 known (from three mints). The authors guess that "at least 15 confirmed examples" of the 1943 bronze cents survive from Philadelphia, the 1943-D is unique, and they posit "three or four" from San Francisco (but we now account for six in our roster).

    The 1944 steel cents are much farther back in the volume -- or, more precisely, the 1944-D steel cent is farther back, listed at number 15. But the discussion centers around steel cents from all three mints; the authors estimate 20 to 25 survivors from Philadelphia, eight to 10 from Denver, and two from San Francisco. The larger number from Philadelphia stems not only from the usual source of leftover prior-year planchets but also because Belgian two franc coins dated 1944 (KM-133) were struck on the leftover steel planchets from 1943 (the weights are identical) -- so in Philadelphia, there were more steel planchets around for a longer period in 1944 waiting for a chance to get lodged in a Lincoln cent hopper. No 1944 Belgian two franc coins were struck in Denver or San Francisco.

    The steel planchet strips for the 1943 cents were zinc-coated before the individual blanks were punched out; this left an uncoated steel edge on the coins, the resulting seam creating a perfect entry point for moisture and oxygen to cause rust on the steel substrate and, overlying, an unsightly, white, powdery "mildew" effect, chemically zinc oxide. David Lange writes in the Complete Guide to Lincoln Cents that "a worse combination of metals for coinage could not have been devised by a madman."

    This Select Mint State 1944 Philadelphia steel cent has met a far kinder fate than most of its ilk. PCGS reports this sole example in this grade, although there are two different pieces in MS64 PCGS (one of which is also in the present Platinum Night auction). The surfaces are a lovely mix of silver-zinc color with light golden patina throughout both sides. A few extremely minor flecks show under magnification on the reverse, near the rim. The surfaces are mostly satiny, but a more-reflective area appears on the reverse from roughly 12 to 1 o'clock, around (PLURIB)US U(NUM) in the motto, (O)NE, and the N in CENT, making future identification easy. Population: 1 in 63, 2 finer (11/15).
    Selections from The Bob R. Simpson Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 22EB, PCGS# 82722)

    Weight: 2.70 grams

    Metal: 100% Zinc Coated Steel

    View all of [Selections from the Bob R. Simpson Collection ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2016
    6th-11th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,050

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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