A Million Dollar Lincoln Cent? 6


Now that I’ve got you’re attention, let talk about Lincoln Cents in 1943. In the midst of World War II, the United States military was in need of copper and nickel. So, in 1943 the US mint would make Steel Cents. You can imagine the surprise to see this grey penny instead of the reddish brown copper penny.

A lot of people ask me if their steel cents are worth anything. Unfortunately, I have to tell them if they don’t have a high grade mint state coin, don’t expect much. I can understand the logic of many who think that steel cents were only minted in 1943 so it should be a rarity, but what they don’t realize is that a lot of steel cents were minted.

  • Philadelphia minted over 84,628,670 cents.
  • Denver minted 217,660,000 cents.
  • San Francisco minted over 191,550,000 cents.

That being said, circulating steel cents can range from $0.30 to $1.00. Low end mint state pennies can get you a few bucks. An MS-65 steel cent can be valued between $10 and $20. Sorry folks!

What about the 1943 Copper Cent?

When I was younger, I saw ads on the rare 1943 Copper Lincoln Cent and said they would offer $1,000,000 because only a few were minted. Somehow, there were a few copper plates that were mixed with the steel ones resulting in a few copper cents. Are they really worth $1,000,000? Again, I have to say no. I googled 1943 Copper Cents and checking a couple of sites, it looks like the value of this penny is somewhere between $60,000 and $85,000. Still, that’s nothing to sneeze at. That’s still more valuable than the 1909-S VDB, 1914-D and 1955 Double Die Cents combined.

Now, check out the 1943 Lincoln Cent at the top of this article. That cent belongs to me. Before you say WOW to me, I have to tell you this is a counterfeit coin. There were two ways I figured this out. The obvious one being that I only paid $2 for this at a coin show. I knew it was fake, but I wanted it anyway. If I didn’t think it was counterfeit, I could do a simple test. All I need to do is get a magnet and see if it sticks to the coin. If it sticks, then you have a steel cent. I thought I would try it just for laughs and alas, it’s a steel cent made to look like a copper cent. If it had not, it could be a 1943 Copper Cent, but not 100% sure. Some 1948 cents were altered to look like 1943. Like I always say, make sure you get a coin like this from a reliable dealer.

To those hoping to find a $1,000,000 Lincoln Cent, there isn’t one yet. At least I don’t know of one. If you do, please let me know. I’d like to see it.


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6 thoughts on “A Million Dollar Lincoln Cent?

  • JohnB

    The value of coins is something that can change at any given time. Even if you had an authentic Lincoln 1943 steel coin I wouldn’t be surprised if you wouldn’t receive your one million. There are many people like you collecting coins and I think it is a nice hoby. But for earning cash? Im not so sure.

    • Kevin Post author

      Coin collecting is a great hobby and I’ve enjoyed it for a long time. I’ve also bought a few coins for investing. There are some people who buy silver and gold coins as an investment.

      I think you meant the 1943 copper cent which only a few had been minted. It’s possible that someday one of them could be worth a million dollars, but it will be some time before that happens. 

      Thanks for the comment!

  • sprbst53

    The title of your article caught my attention. Coin collecting is an interesting hobby and fun to do. I have a few myself.
    My father, years ago, told me that a 50D nickel is very valuable although it looks like that can vary.
    All in all your research looks sound and your content was informative.
    Will you have more articles on different coins in the future?

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks for the comment! That’s great that you have some coins. Hopefully I can interest you into getting more.

      When my friends and I started collecting many years ago, we thought the three modern coins to get was the 1950-D nickel, the 1970-D half dollar and the 1973-S Silver proof Eisenhower Dollar. None of these were released in circulation. The 1950-D nickel and 1970-D half dollar were only released in Mint Sets. 

      The 1950-D was the rarest of the Jefferson Nickels at 2,630,000, but isn’t the most valuable. Depending on the grade you might be able to get between $15 and $25 for one. The most valuable Jefferson Nickel would be the 1939-D. In circulation you could get between $10 and $30 and a mint state coin could run between $60 and $150. Unfortunately, the 1950-D has been overrated over the years just like the steel pennies, but if you’re looking to build a Jefferson Nickel collection, it’s definitely a key.

  • walker2

    Very interesting article! I did not know the history of the Lincoln Cents and it’s nice to find out. I have a huge pile of pennies in a tin and I think I’ll go through them now. Who knows – maybe I’ll make a million bucks! One question, how do you know if a dealer is a reputable one? Are there certain questions that need to be asked? Thanks again for educating me!

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks for the comment! I hope you find some interesting pennies in that tin. Many dealers have their own shop or online business. One thing about coin dealers, especially at shows, is when you ask to look at a particular coin. He may tell you a story about the coin, whether it be the history of it, anything special about it, or even how they obtained it. I say good coin dealers have good stories. They show the love they have of the hobby. Those are the ones I deal with. There are some that are just trying to sell the coin. They are looking to make a significant profit and may even sell you something that is fake. My best advice is to do your research on the coins you want to collect before you go looking for it at a coin shop or show, or especially online. Hope that helps!