Rare coin found in boy's lunchbox worth $2.4 million

A man's rare penny he kept for decades could be worth over $1 million

A man's rare penny he kept for decades could be worth over $1 million

The 1943 Lincoln penny is made up of copper and has been described as the "most famous" coin made in error, according to Heritage Auctions, which is auctioning off the coin.

The 1943 penny was pressed amid World War II, when copper was an integral component in making wartime necessities like phone wire and bullet casings. But a handful of the coins were mistakenly pressed with copper and Don Lutes Jr. discovered one of them in his change from his MA high school lunch in the forties. But as his health declined a year ago, Lutes chose to sell the coin, said Peter Karpenski, a friend and fellow coin collector.

Heritage Auctions, the house responsible for auctioning the rare penny, said on its website that only a "handful of legitimate specimens" have ever been found. In 2010, a 1943 penny created with a bronze planchet sold for $1.7 million.

As rumours swirled about the rare copper coins, it was even reported that auto magnate Henry Ford was offering a free vehicle to anyone who could give him one.

When he found one in cafeteria change in March that year, he was "old enough to remember the "steel" cents struck in 1943, which were still commonly seen in circulation at the time, so this copper-colored example aroused his curiosity", according to Heritage Auctions. Lutes heard this rumor and inquired with Ford Motor Company, but they set the record straight, denying that Ford had many any such promise. Over the years, after many inquiries and attempts to buy it, he contacted the US Treasury, but was told the coin was "fraudulent" and that all 1943 pennies were zinc coated steel, with no exceptions. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steel".

Now, the penny could sell for over $1 million. "Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens that had been struck in 1943". However, an accident at the U.S. Mint led to the creation of just a handful of copper pennies, which mixed in with the flood of zinc-coated steel coins being sent out.

The United States Mint, which produces the coins, apparently missed a few bronze blanks which somehow got into the presses.

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

'PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at no more than 10-15 examples in all grades.

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