World war II pennies to be made largely of steel. Dan Lewis top top the rare and also oft-faked coppers that made it the end of the mint.

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Drop a magnet right into a heap of U.S. Pennies and also not a whole lot is going come happen. Pennies are consisted of of 97.5% zinc and also 2.5% copper, and neither the those two steels are magnetic. You should have the ability to remove the magnet without any of those pennies difficult to it. Yet if a cent or two happen to come along for the ride, girlfriend may have actually been the victim of fraud.

That"s the negative news. The good news? You may be a few dozen cents or therefore richer than you thought you were.

That"s since in civilization War II, the government needed copper because that ammunition and military equipment, and putting copper into pennies seemed favor a large waste. Many alternatives were tested, and, ultimately, the U.S. Mint went v steel. Top top occasion, you"ll find a 1943 penny consisted of of 99% steel and also the remainder zinc. It"s a relatively rare coin because the Mint destroyed plenty of of them before the decade was out, however there are enough floating approximately out there the if friend really want one, you can frequently find them for 50 cents apiece or so online. And as checked out on that link, the 1943 stole pennies space a silvery-white color, unequal the color of a common penny. Stole is magnetic, and also therefore, so are 99% steel pennies.

Your bronze-ish coin sticking to the magnet? If it states 1943 top top the front, that"s almost certainly what girlfriend have.

When the Mint developed the 1943 steel cents, it likewise made a grasp of mistakes. Fourty mistakes, offer or take. Those mistakes are known as the 1943 copper penny, together pictured. They should have actually never been made.

In general, to create coins, the Mint put round metal slugs referred to as planchets with presses. The presses imprint the design onto the planchets. As soon as the Mint ran turn off the 1943 line, they go so using steel planchets, as discussed above. However for part reason, all three Mints — Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco — are thought to have made the exact same tiny mistake in ~ the begin of the process. Every of the 3 neglected to clear the last couple of remaining copper planchets turn off the press. For this reason there are a handful of 1943 pennies out there which, like pennies produced in other years, are made the copper. But due to the fact that of the war, lock were an alleged to it is in made the steel.

The 1943 copper pennies looked favor their predecessor coins, and also because there to be so few of them, the Mint didn"t notice the error or, perhaps, didn"t think to do anything about the grasp of erroneous cents currently in the financial system. The mistake wasn"t uncovered by collectors till 1947. The U.S. Mint notes the only about 40 that the coins were ever minted and there are just (already?) 12 shown to exist and also have been located. Over there are perhaps as countless as 200 million typical pennies currently in circulation, so your odds that finding one of the 30 or so potentially floating about out there are one in fifteen million. Because of its rarity, an yes, really 1943 copper penny is worth 10s of hundreds of dollars, if not more.

Which is why fraudsters shot to trick the unsuspecting coin collector. Over there are numerous fake 1943 copper pennies out there. Part fraudsters discover 1948 pennies and also shave down the 8 come look prefer a 3, conveniently fooling amateurs. Much more common, though, room those who buy 1943 stole cents and also plate them through copper, making lock look choose the super-valuable one. That"s easy enough to finding — those, unlike true copper pennies, are magnetic after all. So if her magnet picks up a penny, it might be due to the fact that someone make the efforts to happen off a phony 1943 copper cent. It"s quiet worth around 25 cent or so, therefore don"t be as well upset.


Bonus Fact: There"s one coin which is probably less attainable 보다 the 1943 copper pennies out there. It"s a 1909 coin — the first year Abraham Lincoln"s portrait graced the coin — and also it"d take you the far better part of a year and billions of dollars come go and get it. That"s due to the fact that it"s on the Mars Curiosity Rover, as component of the camera calibration system.

From the Archives: native Abe to Zinc: The expense of making and distributing a penny? At least 50% an ext than a penny.

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