Most of us never take a second glance at the pennies in our wallets. In fact, a lot of people think of the one-cent coin as an annoyance taking up space that could be filled by more valuable currency. However, there is a particular penny in circulation that is worth way more than all of the other change you have combined.
The 1943 copper penny is a highly sought-after item for coin collectors who know they can rake in thousands of dollars for it. Just last year, one 1943 penny sold for $282,000 at an auction in Denver, according to news reports. However, what makes this coin so different from all the other pennies rattling around in your purse? It’s important to remember what was happening in history when they were minted: Copper was badly needed for World War II, so pennies from that time were actually made of steel coated in zinc. That’s why finding a copper piece made that year is so rare, as they were made by mistake.
As the official website for the United States Mint explains, about 40 pennies were accidentally struck (some copper alloy remained in the press before the steel was swapped in). Now, don't go rushing off to examine the year on all the pennies in your home just yet, as there are other factors you should know in order to verify whether you’re sitting on a goldmine.
The 1943 pennies are unfortunately incredibly easy to be faked. Counterfeiters will shave down the numbers on other pennies from 1948 and '49, or cover up pennies from 1943 with copper plating. The US Mint recommends using a magnet to test whether or not it’s actually copper. If the coin sticks to the magnet, it’s a fake — but if it doesn’t stick, there’s a chance you’ve found the real deal.
Go ahead and spill all your coin jars out to see if you’ve been sitting on one of the prettiest, most valuable pennies of them all. Just be sure to get your finds verified by an expert before splurging on any expensive treats.