Why Do I Have Two Different 1943 Pennies?

Want an interesting collector's item? 1943 pennies are great additions to any coin collection.

Recently, I received a rather interesting question from one of my readers:

I love collecting pennies. I've noticed that I have two different pennies from 1943. One is silver and one is copper. Why are there two different 1943 pennies?

That's a great question, and it's worth knowing the answer. Because if you really have a copper 1943 penny, it could be quite valuable.

Two 1943 Pennies

In 1943, copper was being used for shell casings in the effort to win World War II. As a result, most 1943 pennies were made of steel, and then coated over with zinc. This, rather than actually being made of silver, accounts for the color.

However, at one point the US Mint made a mistake and made some 1943 pennies from copper. The mistake resulted in somewhat rare coins since most of the error pennies stayed with the Mint.

Is Your 1943 Penny the Real Thing?

If you truly have a copper 1943 penny, it could be worth upwards of $10,000 to collectors. However, the problem with 1943 pennies made from copper is that some of them aren't the genuine article. Fraudsters have tried everything, from cutting the “8” on a copper 1948 penny in half to look like a “3” to just dipping a standard 1943 steel penny in copper.

First, realize that a copper penny won't stick to a magnet, so if a magnet pulls your 1943 “copper” penny, it's actually a steel penny. Also, take a close look at the number “3”. If you have a penny with a date ending in a “3” (such as 2003 or 2013), you will notice that the bottom part of the “3” isn't fully rounded; it hangs below the line of the other numbers. Compare the “3” on your 1943 “copper” penny with the number on other pennies to see if it looks the same. If something is off, it's probably counterfeit.

Look through Your Penny Hoard

It's becoming increasingly popular to hoard coins, and there are some pennies that are sought after more than others. While the 1943 steel penny can be fun as a novelty item and is often worth more than face value, it's not as valuable as the copper version from that year. But it's still a solid addition to a good penny collection.

Plus, if you are concerned about the economy, it's going to be the metal content that brings value to the coin, and copper pennies from all years that the coin was predominantly made from copper would be more valuable in that circumstance.

Don't let the tangible metal value (bulk base metal collecting) stop you from going through your penny hoard when you have a few minutes at a time. You might find a hidden gem that collectors are looking for. And that can mean more money right now. Whenever you can find a true collector item amongst your coins, it is usually more valuable than any metal content.

1 thought on “Why Do I Have Two Different 1943 Pennies?”

  1. Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce

    Phenomenal post. My grandfather was very interested in coin collecting, and when he passed away we found some amazing things. Great sentimental value.

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