Monday, June 27, 2011

1943 Steel Lincoln Cent, 1943 Silver Alloy Jefferson Nickel, 1941 Lincoln Cent

Today I have a handful of WW2 vintage US coins to show off.  On Saturday, Sweet Pea and I stopped by our local bank and our favorite teller had a surprise for us........ she knows that we love old coins and she pulls out old wheat pennies and other old US coins our of her cash drawer and saves them for us when we come in.  Well, when we stopped by on Saturday, she had a handful of 1943 steel Lincoln Cents!  As a little extra, she also had a 1943 S Jefferson Nickle and a 1941 Lincoln Cent for us.  A true treasure haul!

So here's what makes the steel Lincoln Cents so unique.  In 1943, the United States was running short of metals for use on the home front, they were all being diverted to the war effort.  The US Mint decided to experiment with a steel penny that was coated in zinc....... the 1943 Steel Lincoln Cent was born.  The steel pennies were a flop.  The public disliked them because they were easy to confuse with the silver dimes and they would not work in vending machines.  The vending machines of the 1940's had magnets installed to keep people from using steel "slugs" to cheat the machines. The magnets would grab the steel pennies...... a real problem in 1943 when a penny could actually buy something!  The steel pennies also tended to rust in your pants pockets!  As an interesting side note, about 40 copper 1943 pennies were accidentally produced (that's forty!).  There were a few copper blanks still in the minting press when the 1943 steel penny run was started, making the 1943 copper penny one of the rarest pennies ever produced!    A 1943 Copper penny sold in 1996 for $82,500 !!!!

The Jefferson Nickels that were produced during the war years, 1941-1945, also are a bit unique.  Due to the war time shortages of nickel, the US Mint changed the alloy in the Jefferson Nickel to 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese.  These are the only nickels that are a silver alloy.  With the prices of silver today, these nickel are worth around $3.00 just in the melt value of the metals.

The 1941 Lincoln Cent is a 95% copper, 5% zinc alloy coin.  This coin is not particularly valuable as they made a lot of pennies in 1941, but it is worth several times its face value because of the copper content.

Here are a few more photos of this treasure trove of war time coins:

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