In Which I make You an Offer
I call the bar in my town The Lead Penny. This is not the bar’s real name. In several places in this continuing blog I change the names of various people and places. I do so because after many years in the writing business I have learned that you can never tell what is going to make people angry when you are writing about them. You can point out one amusing and endearing trait that might be construed as the tiniest bit unflattering, (in an amusing and endearing way) and the person referred to will sometimes complain bitterly that you have compared him to Adolph Hitler, ruined his life and embarrassed him in front of his wife and children. So sometimes I change the names because you just never know what’s going to upset someone.
Why the Lead Penny? Because it’s almost like the bar’s real name and anyone who knows my town would guess it immediately. So what good does that do me as far as protecting myself against people getting mad at me? I dunno. Let’s move this along. I have an offer to make.
When I was a kid my father collected coins. This was a common activity among adults at the time. You bought folding coin holders that held five years of coins — the folders were dark blue — and you put the coins into slots that had the correct dates and where the coins were minted underneath the slots. The idea was to fill the holders. Since my dad traveled a lot, he figured that he came across a varied cross-section of coins, and maybe he could fill up the blue folders. He wasn’t looking for a rare coin, something that would make him rich beyond his wildest dreams, he just wanted to see if he could fill up his folders.
As a little boy, I could see that dad got a lot of pleasure out of going through his change on the weekend and putting any new finds into the folders. I asked if I could start a collection, so he assigned me 1943 pennies. Most of you out there either don’t remember these coins or are too young to have ever seen one, but during the Second World War pennies were made of copper, as they are now, except for the year 1943. That year they were made of steel coated with zinc, which infused them a dull grey color. The copper was needed for shell cases. We called them lead pennies because of the color, and by the time I started collecting them around 1951 you could still find them sprinkled among the regular copper pennies when you received change. I haven’t seen one in a handful of change in many years.
I have a couple of hundred of these pennies left from my original collection, most of which seemed to have gone astray over the years. I keep them on my writing desk in an old mayonnaise jar. Now you’re probably asking yourselves, what are these unusual pennies worth? A quick trip to the Internet says that they are worth the grand total of 6 to 20 cents, depending on the mint markings. That’s a little S or D you will see beneath the date on some of these pennies. But some people are offering these pennies for up to a couple of hundred dollars apiece. Why? I don’t know and I quickly became bored trying to figure this out. Maybe you can figure out why some of them are worth several hundred dollars.
But wait! There’s more!
Here’s some information about a spectacularly rare version of this penny that I lifted off a coin collector website.
“Valuable 1943 Pennies
There are a few very valuable error coins produced in 1943. Since the mint produces billions of coins in an average year, they use huge totes to move them around the mint facility. As the totes moved from machine to machine, sometimes a blank from the last batch would get stuck in a crevice. Most numismatists believe that a few copper planchets from 1942 got caught in a crevice in the tote. The coining press struck the copper planchets with the 1943 date. Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco all produced these ultra rare 1943 copper pennies.
|Date & Mint||Circulated|
|1943 Bronze *||$29,000.00||$18,000.00|
|1943-D Bronze *||$57,000.00||$38,000.00|
|1943-S Bronze *||$92,000.00||$62,000.00|
Copper Plated 1943 Fakes
But beware. At one time genuine 1943 Steel pennies were copper plated and sold as novelty items at coin shows and flea markets. Many of these coins were then spent and ended up in circulation alongside genuine Lincoln cents. Over time, people would find these copperplated steel pennies and think that they found a rare mint error.
When they took these coins to a coin dealer, the coin dealer would hold a magnet over the penny, and the steel underneath the copper plating would attract the penny to the magnet. This process is the easiest way to tell if your penny is solid copper or copperplated.”
All my pennies are dated 1943. It’s possible you might get a fake 1943 copper-appearing penny. Many of mine are so corroded it’s difficult to tell what the finish is or was. Is there a rare copper one in my jar? If you can’t tell just by looking at it, (if it looks steel it is steel), you can test your penny yourself by seeing if it sticks to a magnet. If it does, your penny is worth about 15 cents as a novelty item. And if it doesn’t, MAYBE YOU”VE HIT THE MOTHERLOAD! See the chart above for the true worth.
So here’s my offer. To show my appreciation for Following this blog or even just reading it regularly, I’m going to send you one or two of my “lead” pennies. If you are a Follower of the blog, I will send you two lead pennies. If you are a regular reader and switch to being a Follower, I’ll send you two pennies. All you have to do to become a Follower is find and click on the Follow button (word) on the blog page. All this means is you will be alerted when I put up a new post on the blog.
If you email me your land address at email@example.com , I’ll put one or two pennies in the mail back to you. I’m just going to stick my hand in the jar and fish one out without looking at it or running it by a magnet. Some of them are really “roached” meaning beat up, and rusty, (that’s a word I learned while watching the TV show Pickers) and some of them are in pretty good condition for an old circulated penny. I’m not going to choose, I’m just going to grab. I haven’t ever looked at any of them to see if there’s a valuable one in there, and if fact I haven’t touched them for 65 years. Once you get your penny if you’re interested you can look for further info. Just Google something on the order of… worth of 1943 lead pennies and figure it out for yourself.
And if you end up with one of the rare ones, well, drinks are on me.