Rare penny could be worth more than $1 million

Irving Hamilton
January 10, 2019

A rare Lincoln-head penny a MA teenager received in change for his school lunch is up for auction with a starting bid of $100,000. These white colored "steelies" were produced in large numbers and seen in circulation throughout the 1950s and '60s when collectors started pocketing them, but rumors of extremely rare "copper pennies" soon circulated the channels - ones that were made by mistake and subsequently covered up by the U.S. government.

Sarah Miller of Heritage Auctions told SWNS (via Fox): "This is the most famous error coin in American numismatics and that's what makes this so exciting".

The top bid after a two-week online auction is $130,000, according to Heritage Auctions.

Don Lutes, Jr., of Pittsfield, Massachusetts discovered a rare "copper" 1943 Lincoln Penny in his lunch money in 1947.

'This lot represents a true "once in a lifetime" opportunity'.

The Mint initially denied Lutes' claim that he had a 1943 copper Lincoln penny when he first notified notified the US Treasury about his findings.

Eventually, Lutes gave up trying to cash in on his coin and it stayed in his collection until his death in September.

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However, a few of the copper planchets that were used to cast the Lincoln cent in 1942 got lodged in a trap door of a bin used to feed blanks into the press.

During World War II, cooper was needed for wartime necessities like bullets and wire. When they became dislodged, they were printed and circulated with the millions of steel copies.

A rare penny found by a 16-year-old high school student in Pittsfield back in 1947 is up for auction starting at $120,000.

Lutes died in September a year ago, and the coin is now up for auction.

Copper pennies from that year typically don't look very different from the coin as it appears today, but it does look different from the ones manufactured in 1943.

A US Army veteran, he would amass some 50,000 coins by the 1970s when he retired from the family manufacturing business, according to Karpenski.

And the library meant just as much to Lutes. The proceeds of that sale went to charity.

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