Rare Penny Found In Massachusetts Sells For More Than $200K

Rare Penny Found In Massachusetts Sells For More Than $200K

A rare 1943 copper Lincoln cent - found by a MA teenager in his change after he paid for lunch at a school cafeteria - is expected to fetch up to $1.7 million when it is auctioned off.

The coin is one of 20 1943 Lincoln pennies mistakenly pressed with copper. To conserve copper, which was considered a strategic metal at the time, the Treasury Department authorized the U.S. Mint to strike pennies on zinc-coated steel blanks. Only 20 were ever made and for years the US government denied its existence, but one coin was found by Don Lutes Jr.in his school cafeteria in March 1947. But as his health declined past year, Lutes chose to sell the coin, said Peter Karpenski, a friend and fellow coin collector. Now, some 70 years later, the coin is being auctioned off. and the current highest bid is well over $100,000.

The auction is slated to end on Thursday, Jan. 10.

A similar coin sold for $1.7 million in 2010. At the time, it was even falsely reported that Henry Ford would give a new auto to anyone who could provide him with one of the rare cents. While a pretty penny, it was far below the million dollars-plus experts said the coin might fetch.

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Sarah Miller from Heritage Auctions told Fox News, "This is the most famous error coin in American numismatics, and that's what makes this so exciting". PCGS CoinFacts, which offers information to all collectors of U.S. coins, estimates that there are only 10 to 15 such pennies. Heritage Auctions, which is overseeing the sale, estimates the coin is worth at least $170,000. After Lutes's health started to decline, he moved to a nursing home.

Lutes was old enough to remember the "steel" pennies struck in 1943, which were still in circulation, so it piqued his interest when he found the copper-colored cent in his lunch change.

He also contacted the Treasury Department about his penny. "The few resulting "copper" cents were lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents and escaped detection by the Mint", Heritage officials said in a press release. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc-coated steel". He died in September.

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