Rare penny from school lunch change up for auction

Rare 1943 bronze penny could fetch over $1 million at auction.             
    Heritage Auctions

The penny is now up for auction and the current bid is at $130,000.

In 1943, the Treasury Department requested the U.S. Mint create Lincoln pennies on steel planchets coated with zinc in order to preserve cooper for use in the Second World War.

Giving up, Lutes reached the conclusion that the coin was worthless, but kept it in his coin collection nevertheless for the next 70 years.

In 1947, then 16-year-old Don Lute Jr. of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, found a rare copper penny in change he got from his high school cafeteria - but tucked the coin away after federal officials said it had no special value.

"In regard to recent inquiry, please be informed that copper pennies were not struck in 1943", the response read.

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.

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"Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens had been struck in 1943", Heritage Auctions added, referring to the US Mint, which produces coinage for the US.

This mysterious and ultra-valuable coin Lutes came across?

He contacted Ford, who told him that they weren't giving out cars in exchange for the coins after all. The penny was created after "a small number of bronze planchets was caught in the trap doors of the mobile tote bins used to feed blanks into the Mint's coin presses at the end of 1942", according to auction house.

A Lincoln cent from "the most famous" coin error in American history is being auctioned off for well over $100,000. Heritage believes it could sell for $170,000 or more at auction in Orlando.

Only a handful of such coins have ever been discovered, according to Heritage Auctions.

A popular rumor among collectors at the time claimed Henry Ford was offering to trade a new vehicle for one of the rare "copper" pennies struck in 1943, but Lutes chose to just keep the coin after contacting the Ford Motor Company and discovering the offer was nothing but an urban legend. When they became dislodged, they were printed and circulated with the millions of steel copies. PCGS CoinFacts, which offers information to all collectors of United States coins, estimates that there are only 10 to 15 such pennies. It's thought it could fetch over $200,000, though it's so rare, a previous one sold for $1.7 million.

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