Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1944-S Zinc-Coated Steel Lincoln Cent, MS66
    Ex: Simpson Collection, Sole Mint State Example
    Highest-Graded 1944 'Steelie' From Any Mint
    Record-Setting Cent in Impeccable Condition

    1944-S 1C Struck on a Zinc-Coated Steel Planchet MS66 PCGS Secure. CAC. Ex: Simpson. 2.6 gm. Large S. This Premium Gem PCGS 1944-S steel cent hails from the world-famous Simpson Collection of complete Lincoln Cents Off-Metal Strikes, Circulation Strikes (1943-44) put together by Texas oil magnate (and Texas Rangers co-chairman) Bob Simpson. Among all steel cent error coins of 1944 struck at the three mints that were in operation at the time -- Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco -- this piece is the sole finest certified at PCGS and NGC, as well as the only Mint State example of the 1944-S "steelie" cent.

    The 1944 zinc-coated steel cents owe their creation to the dark days of World War II, when America and her allies needed strategic metals including copper and nickel for the war effort. The 1943 Lincoln cents were struck out of a catastrophically flawed combination of metals, namely steel coated with a thin layer of zinc.

    As any numismatist worth his salt knows, the zinc-coated steel cent planchets were magnetic. Not only did they develop rust and a powdery, mildewed appearance (zinc oxide) after a short time in circulation and in the presence of moisture -- they also did not function in the one-cent gum-vending machines prevalent at the time, which used magnets to defeat steel blanks inserted as currency.

    The same shortage of materials that led to the striking of Lincoln cents from steel planchets in 1943 also applied to many other contemporaneous American goods. Sugar, coffee, butter, meat, gasoline, rubber, tires, shoes, metal appliances -- even silk and nylon stockings -- all these consumer goods were subject to rationing and/or recycling during the war to ensure that American men and women got "their fair share" while ensuring sufficient stockpiles for the war effort.

    The wartime silver Jefferson nickels struck in 1942-45 were another byproduct of the increased need for elemental nickel, another critical war material. (But the wartime silver-nickel composition nonetheless fared far better than the 1943 steel cent planchets.)

    The 1944 steel cents were off-metal errors apparently created via the same mechanism as the 1943 copper cents, when a smattering of leftover blank planchets from the previous year remained in Mint tote bins or hoppers as the new year turned. Although the 1943 copper cents have seen the lion's share of publicity over the years, the 1944 steel cents are nearly as rare but less well-known.

    The Philadelphia Mint in 1944 was also striking Belgian two franc coins (KM-133) on zinc-coated steel planchets (these were "blanks for 1943 cents" according to Krause-Mishler), but no such Belgian coins were struck at the Denver or San Francisco mints. The blanks for Belgium getting intermingled with the cent planchets may help explain why there are quite a few more 1944 Philadelphia steel cents existing than those from Denver or San Francisco.

    Examples of the 1944 Belgian steel two franc coins are additionally known struck in silver from planchets made for the 1944 Netherlands 25 cent coins (KM-164), which were also produced at the Philadelphia Mint. Apparently there was considerable mixing-up of planchets going on during all the wartime hustle and bustle. In fact, Bob Simpson's collection exhibited at FUN 2011 in Tampa also included 1943-P, 1943-S, and 1944-P cents struck on silver planchets.

    Sole Mint State 1944-S Steel Lincoln Cent, MS66 PCGS, Ex: Simpson
    This Premium Gem PCGS 1944-S steel cent shows remarkable preservation and splendid luster throughout both sides, a coin that has clearly been well taken care of over the years. Neither side shows any mentionable contact or post-Mint distractions. The high points display a bit of golden patina through the centers of each side. The mintmark is large and well-formed. Tiny bits of extra metal protrude from the left vertex of the first 4 and from its right base. The strike is surprisingly sharp. This coin is guaranteed to set the hearts racing of error collectors for both its rarity and pristine condition.

    The only other example known of the 1944-S zinc-coated steel Lincoln cent is a PCGS Genuine coin that appeared as lot 787 in Bowers and Ruddy's auction of January 25-27, 1983. That coin was graded XF and had been cleaned, realizing $5,390. David W. Lange writes in his Complete Guide to Lincoln Cents (2006) that "the rarity of this issue is so great that it may be considered non-collectible in the practical sense."

    This finest-known steel cent from any U.S. mint, with the Bob Simpson pedigree, must be considered a once-in-a-lifetime bidding opportunity for most collectors.
    Ex: Offered as MS66 NGC in our ANA Platinum Night auction (Heritage, 7/2008), lot 1560, where it realized $373,750 and set a record price for any small cent at public auction and for any Lincoln cent at public auction [when one considers private trades, however, those records have since been shattered twice by Bob Simpson's purchases in September 2010 of a unique 1943-D bronze cent MS64 Brown PCGS for $1.7 million, and in September 2012 of a 1943-S bronze cent MS62 Brown PCGS for $1 million]; Legend Numismatics; sold to Bob Simpson as MS66 PCGS; Simpson Collection.
    Selections from The Bob R. Simpson Collection.

    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: 26
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 12,941

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

    Sold on Jan 11, 2016 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 19 days left to consign to the 2021 June 16 - 20 Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature Auction !

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage Auctions is very well keyed into the evolving market place, what better exposure can anyone ask for?
    Consignor of The Virginia Cabinet
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search