Written by Rafa Sánchez
Compared to the millions of pieces that were minted from the Steel Penny in 1943, the 1943 Copper Penny (aka Bronze Lincoln Penny) is much scarcer. In fact, the 1943 Bronze Lincoln Cent is on the list of the 100 most sought-after and valuable coins in the United States of America, regardless of the mint.
In our article on the 1943 Steel Penny, we talked about why the US Government decided that in 1943 the Lincoln penny, or Wheat penny, would have a different composition than the usual 95% copper and 5% zinc and tin.
- 1 What is the origin of the 1943 Copper Penny?
- 2 How many Copper Pennies are there?
- 3 What types of Copper Pennies are there?
- 4 Identifying the 1943 Copper Penny’s value
- 5 How can you tell if your 1943 Lincoln Copper Penny is authentic or a forgery?
- 6 What are the rarest and most valuable 1943 Copper Penny pieces?
What is the origin of the 1943 Copper Penny?
A possible origin of these specimens – Lincoln Copper or Bronze Penny 1943 – so scarce and sought-after, was the use of uncoined copper sheets from the year 1942. Although it is not known if the reason for this was the use of these blank units that were in the hopper with the rest of the “Steelies”, or a mistake or any other circumstance.
How many Copper Pennies are there?
There are no official documents that record the exact number of copies manufactured of the 1943 Lincoln Copper Penny, but some experts estimate only about 40 copies. Others deduce between 20 and 30 Bronze Cents, or between 10 and 12 coins in total, that are known to originate from the three mints.
In any case, the U.S. Mint has always denied that a 1943 Wheat Penny Bronze came out of any of the mints, even when a year later the young numismatic collector Kenneth Wing Jr. found a 1943 copy from the San Francisco Mint.
What types of Copper Pennies are there?
In this article, we will try to update data on known specimens to best explain the scarcity of each type of 1943 Lincoln Bronze Penny and give you an idea of how valuable they can be.
The 1943 Lincoln Penny Copper was minted at the three mints, Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (“D”) and San Francisco (“F”).
As explained above, there are very few known specimens left and their value, regardless of graduation, is several hundred thousand dollars.
Identifying the 1943 Copper Penny’s value
In order to know the value of a 1943 copper penny, it is essential to discern its scarcity by the number of pieces that are publicly known (pieces that have not been certified or have not appeared in auctions in recent years are difficult to trace and locate).
How can you tell if your 1943 Lincoln Copper Penny is authentic or a forgery?
Due to its high monetary value, the 1943 Lincoln Bronze Penny is widely counterfeited. The methods used to forge these pieces can differ. From here we will discover how to detect the most common forgeries.
Lincoln Steel Penny Copper Clad
One of the first options, perhaps the easiest, is to copper-coat a 1943 Lincoln Steel Penny (which obviously has the same design as the 1943 Bronze Lincoln Penny).
Detecting it is very easy but not at first sight. To know if your 1943 Bronze Penny is authentic and not actually a 1943 Steel Penny, you only need a magnet and a scale.
If it is a copper-coated Steel Penny 1943 it will stick to the magnet because its core is made of low quality steel. If it is authentic it will not react to the magnet as it is 95% copper.
Also, we remind you that the Steel Penny weighs less than the Copper Lincoln Cent. The “Steelies” weigh 2.7 grams and the Copper Pennies 3.11 grams.
Rectification dates in Lincoln Cents 1945, 1948 or 1949
Other dates are used for this forgery of the 1943 Lincoln Bronze Cent and some of those dates are “deleted” or rectified. The Lincoln Cents used for this are the dates 1945, 1948 and 1949.
However, the shape of the digit “3” of the date 1943 is very characteristic, both in the upper left corner and in the lower left corner, and is very difficult to copy.
The shadows in the areas of these corrections or reductions of the last digits of the dates 1945, 1948 and 1945 can be visible with a magnifying glass because they are difficult to hide.
What are the rarest and most valuable 1943 Copper Penny pieces?
All 1943 Lincoln Penny copper coins are on the list of the 100 most sought-after American coins by collectors, although the one that stands out most of all is the ONE Denver coin, for which $1,700,000 was paid.
#1 Denver 1943-D BN (BROWN)
The 1943 Lincoln Cent Bronze from the Denver Mint is the rarest and most sought-after of all the mints. In fact, it is a unique specimen.
Unlike the 1943 Philadelphia and San Francisco Mint varieties, which many experts agree were unminted 1942 coin blanks in the hoppers at the time of the 1943 mints; the story of the 1943-D Lincoln Penny Bronze is shrouded in mystery.
What many numismatic specialists agree on regarding the origin of this piece is the story behind the coinage of this specimen.
In The Authoritative Reference On Lincoln Cents, Second Edition (2009), authors John Wexler and Kevin Flynn support the theory that the 1943-D Lincoln Cent was made by an employee of the Denver Mint so deliberately that it was struck twice and then kept by this employee until his death.
Dr Sol Taylor in Making Cents (2008), who maintains the same theory, even goes so far as to name the employee who minted and kept this copy. Specifically, Dr Sol Taylor holds John R. Sinnock, Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint, responsible. However, Sinnock was Chief Engraver of the Philadelphia Mint, not Denver.
This copy of MS64BN was auctioned in 1996 and sold for $82,500. In 2003 it was auctioned again and reached $212,750. Later, after 4 years of negotiations, it was acquired by the famous collector Bob Simpson for $1.7 million.
The most incredible thing of all is that this unique specimen will be auctioned again in December 2020 by the Heritage Auction House. You can check it out just here.
#2 1943-S BN (BROWN)
The number of copies certified by both Brown Bronze Lincoln Cent graduation houses rises to 11 coins, in qualities ranging from VF35 to MS62.
In 2016 a Bronze Lincoln Cent 1943-S AU58 BN was auctioned off at $282,000 (a record for a single copy at auction). That same year an AU55 BN reached a price of $211,500.
In 2018 an AU53 BN reached a value of $228,000 and last year, another copy of identical graduation was sold for $216,000.
In a few days (Thursday, November 19, 2020) the famous Heritage Auction House will auction a Bronze Lincoln Cent 1943-E MS63 BN from the Simpson Collection.
It is the most known of the 11 copies we have seen to date, and it is said that collector Bob Simpson bought it for $1,000,000 in 2012.
The current bid as of today (November 8, 2020) with 14 days left to the end of the auction, is $175,000.
#3 1943 BN (BROWN)
At the Philadelphia Mint, the 1943 Bronze Lincoln Penny number we know of reaches 22. Most of them correspond to the Brown (BN) typology, about 19 specimens.
The second-rarest type of the 1943 Philadelphia Bronze Penny is the Red and Brown (RB) with two specimens. The rarest is the Red (RD) with only one specimen.
See below the specimens listed by the two largest grading companies (PCGS and NGC) in different qualities within each type.
A 1943 Bronze Lincoln Cent AU55 BN from the Philadelphia Mint, which reached a price of $329,000 in 2014, holds the highest valuation record. Compared to prices reached by sister mints in 2019, even in higher qualities such as AU58 BN, one can see how valuations have decreased considerably since 2014.
#4 1943 RB (RED & BROWN)
We are not aware of any of these two specimens having appeared at auction or in public sale.
#5 1943 RD (RED)
PCGS reports a copy in MS63 quality but we have only seen the photo. It is valued at $1,000,000, but this is an estimated value, since to date, we have no evidence that this copy has appeared for sale.
Photos: PCGS and Heritage
I have a degree in Business Administration and Management and numismatics studies at the University of Murcia (Spain).