Most coin collectors know that the 1943 Lincoln Wheat Penny is made out of steel because the US government needed that pressure copper for ammunition during World War II. The 1943 steel pennies stand out because they have a silvery color instead of the typical copper color of the rest of the Lincoln cents The US mint destroyed a lot of these coins before the decade was over because they stood out too much, but you can still find them at online auctions for about a dollar. There were, however, roughly 40 genuine 1943 copper pennies that were minted by mistake and are very valuable. In fact, an authorized one recently sold for $1.7 million.
How Can I Tell if I have a 1943 Copper Penny?
The best way to test your possible 1943 copper penny is to put a magnet on it. Any steel Penny will be attracted to the magnet, and a copper penny will not. Another trick some scammers will do is to take a 1948 Lincoln penny and shave off half the eight so it looks like a three. Consult the image below to get an idea of this result. The genuine 1943 should show the bottom of the three coming down below the four, while the fake 1948 will show the bottom of the three at the same level as the bottom of the four. Finally, there are fake 1943 copper Lincoln pennies produced in China that will not respond to a magnet and look very real. I was recently watching an eBay auction listing in 1943 copper penny that was claimed to not respond to a magnet and looked very legitimate. The seller claimed to know was valuable, but maybe didn't know it was worth so much. I watched the auction start at $100 and it ended at just under $10,000. Either the seller was a fool or a scammer, most likely the latter, and some chump just lost $10,000.
Keep your eyes peeled as you look through that change, because you never know what's floating around! If it looks like a copper 1943 Lincoln penny, consult your closest magnet. Do not, however, think anyone on eBay would really sell a genuine one for less than $100,000.