1943 Bronze Wheat Penny

Between 1942 and 1943, World War II was raging against Japan in the Pacific, and against Germany in Europe.  The U.S. needed all possible materials and manpower to make all the munitions it needed to supply the war effort.  Due to this need, even the U.S. Mint was pressed to take out most of the tin content in the alloy used to create pennies, thus changing the metal used to make the coins from its original bronze to brass.  These new pennies made their debut together with the existing bronze coins previously minted.

These new 1943 coins were the Lincoln cents that nobody wanted.  The alternative coins were made out of zinc coated steel, giving it an appearance of a silver penny.  These coins easily corroded as soon as the zinc coating wore off, and they were rejected by vending machines which saw these magnetic pennies as steel slugs.

By the time 1944 came around, bronze pennies made from recycled cartridge cases went back into production.  Consequently, only a very few 1943 bronze wheat pennies were left in existence.  These bronze 1943 pennies, being the rare exception compared to their plentiful zinc-coated steel counterparts, became prized collectors items.  Some of these bronze cents have fetched as much as $100,000 in auction.

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