1943 Lincoln Cents: The Value of Steel vs Copper Pennies

lincoln-on-the-penny.jpg One of the most interesting varieties the U.S. Mint created over its decades of producing Lincoln cents came in 1943. That’s when the Mint, pursuant to 1942’s Public Law 815, temporarily suspended use of copper in pennies to ration the metal for use in war materials.

Thus, 1943 Lincoln cents were struck with a steel core which was coated with a thin plating of zinc. Zinc, by the way, is currently used in the core of all Lincoln cents struck since 1982. These steel pennies have a weight of 2.70 grams, as opposed to 3.11 grams for typical copper pennies.

Steel pennies generally have a white top silvery appearance, though many have corroded over the years. It is also common to find some worn steel cents with rust, or in colors ranging from black to gray.

 

What Are 1943 Steel Cents Worth?

1943 steel pennies are very common, as hundreds of millions were struck. Thus, they are relatively inexpensive — even in uncirculated grades.

1943-steel-cent.pngHowever, worn specimens are worth more than face value. Steel pennies, on average, are worth between 20 to 50 cents if worn, and can reach into the $10-$20 price range if uncirculated.

It is getting difficult to find steel pennies in circulation today, but is still possible if you use a close eye on the pennies that get into your hands. Don’t forget to check your penny jar, drawers, and between those couch cushions!

 

What Are 1943 Copper Pennies Worth?

Likely, you have heard a lot about 1943 cents that were struck in copper. In fact, these do exist, but in very rare quantities.

1943-copper-cent.jpgThese 1943 copper cents, generally classified as "errors," have been extremely popular with the general public for many decades now. It is safe say they may just be among the most popular Lincoln cent rarities known today.

Only about 15 of the 1943 Lincoln copper cents are known to exist, and the bulk of these were struck at the Philadelphia mint. Beware that there are many fake 1943 copper pennies. 
 

See how to spot fake 1943 copper cents.

If you think you are holding a 1943 copper cent, you should have it evaluated by a third-party coin grading service to check for its authenticity.

Authentic 1943 copper pennies have drastically increased in value over the years. In 1981, a 1943 copper penny sold for $10,000. Almost 3 decades later, the coin is selling at auctions for over $200,000.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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Fun From Around the Web

  • Anonymous

    i have a 1943 steel penny and 9 other wheet pennies

  • Anonymous

    google weat pennies
    i had just looked it up but x ed out the page

  • Anonymous

    yes but its steel
    10-20$

  • Shawn

    I purchased two 1943 copper pennies. One was minted in Denver and the other in Philly. If these are indeed real how much do you think they are worth. I dont think the guy knew what they were. I only spent .75 cents each. And how can I tell if they are indeed real?

  • Kim Swenson

    Does the 1943 copper penny have a letter on it to be worth 20,000 as a p, d, s ? or is it a plain 1943?

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Kim —

      If a 1943 Lincoln cent is authentically copper, it does not matter the mintmark (or lack thereof). Any 1943 copper Lincoln cent that is genuine will have a value in the tens of thousands of dollars.

  • Samuel Heinitz

    I have 2 1943 copper pennies. One S and one P. I also have 3 1944 steel pennies. 2 are P nd one is D.

  • Jay Beacham

    I have a penny collection, 1941 to 1975 with tree 1943 steel pennies included.

    How can I market the set?

    Don’t want to break out the three steel pennies that you list as of more value than other coins.

    Jay Beacham

    • Anonymous

      Hi Jay,

      Is your Lincoln cent collection in a blue folder? The 1941 to 1974 Lincoln cent collection is one of the most popular coin sets around. You’d probably stand to make the most money for the whole set on eBay (though selling it to a coin dealer is another option, too).

  • Michael Hernandez

    I have a 1943 steel penny its P and I want to contact a dealer to sell it can u help find and how much its really worth???
    Thank You,
    Michael Hernandez

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Michael —

      A Philadelphia 1943 steel cent in typical circulated grades is worth around 10 to 25 cents. The only way your steel cent is worth more is if it has no signs of wear and is thus in brilliant mint condition. Even then, it’s worth around $2 to $5 in most cases, unless it’s truly an immaculate piece.

  • michael nice

    I found a penny that I iso rare color and now I see that this is not worth much if it is original as ago as to whether original or not I am living a largo fl to that part I can take to evaluate it I could help i a latin im sorry if you not understand

    • Anonymous

      Hi Michael,

      Would you be able to take a photo of your coin? Before having to go through the trouble of bringing your coin someplace, we’d be happy to take a look for you if you post a photo at The Fun Times Guide Coins Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheFunTimesGuideToCoins

  • John Emert

    I seem to have a 1943 steel penny that has no number(4) between the 9 and the three, also the 9 appears to have been double struck. Is this penny valuable? It is not mint, but is in good condition.Thanks

    • Anonymous

      John,

      A missing digit is usually either caused by damage to the die (the device that imprints the image on coins) or by somebody intentionally removing the digit. In either case, the coin would actually have no increased value.

      As for the doubling of the 9, that would require an inspection to see if its a double die (usually rare and valuable) or simple machine doubling (common and not valuable).

      If you’d like, you can post a photo on The Fun Times Guide to Coins Facebook wall, but I can’t guarantee that I’d be able to tell without a really close, clear shot of the apparent doubling.

      Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/TheFunTimesGuideToCoins

  • Zanmarie fludd

    I have several coin rangeing from quarters, dimes, nickels, half dollars, one dollar, including a lincoln 1943 penny. I also have some from other counties. These were my husband coins.  I would like to know where can i go to have my coins appraised.

    Thanks,
    Ms. Zanmarie Fludd

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HINOHKTXGNZNIM2YT7J2R3ZKAI Berenice Vazquez

    i have 1889 Indian head penny, 1943s steel penny that sticks to magnet , 1938 penny , 1942 penny , 1949 penny , 2-1956D penny. I wonder how much they are worth for.

  • Daisy Villalobos

    I Have a penny like this ho do i sell it for what its worth???

    • Anonymous

      Daisy –

      A 1943 steel cent is generally worth between 10 cents and $1. If you wish to sell it, the two best ways to do this is to either list it for sale on eBay or to visit your nearest coin dealer and sell it there. Here’s some more info about coin dealers: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/12/coin_dealer.php

  • Rpdsjd1

    I have a 1943 copper penny, what would it be worth today?

    • Anonymous

      Rp,

      If you had an authentic 1943 copper cent today, it would likely auction for over $125,000.

  • Ginger

    I have found a 1992 dime that is off center, is it worth anything?

    • Anonymous

      Ginger,

      The value really depends on how off-center your coin is. If you want to post a pic here, we would be glad to assist and give a better idea as to possible value.

  • brian

    I have 3 lincoln steel cents, how much its worth now??

  • Madhu_chamling

    I have 1944 copper one cent what it would be worth today?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      A 1944 Lincoln penny in typical circulated condition is worth about 5 cents, Madhu.

  • Anthony_2613

    I have a 1943 Lincoln Copper Penny, how much is it worth today?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Anthony,

      If you have an authentic 1943 copper penny, it would be valued at over $100,000. Before getting too excited about your coin, I urge you to have it authenticated by a leading third-party coin grading company, such as PCGS. Here’s some more info on third-party coin graders: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/01/slabbed_coins.php

  • Martesc_1999

    Authentic 1943 copper pennies have drastically increased in value over
    the years. In 1981, a 1943 copper penny sold for $10,000. Almost 3
    decades later, the coin is selling at auctions for over $200,000.

  • DianeWilliams

    I have found a 1945 copper wheat Lincoln  penny how much is it worth

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Diane –

      A 1945 Lincoln cent is worth around 5 cents.

  • Jose Antonio Delgado

    I have a 1943 stil zinc penny, 1944,1952,1949,1958,1953,1956,1917,1948,1956,1941,1956. I’m selling them. You can find me in my email delgadosoy@yahoo.com Antonio Delgado

  • Christian Martinez

    hi i found a 1947 copper wheat lincoln penny how much is it worth

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Christian –

      Your 1947 Lincoln cent is worth 5 to 10 cents.

  • Jeffrey Welch

    Hi, I have an 1861 and 1865 Indian head cents, both in good to very good condition…as well as an 1857 Flying Eagle cent; wondering what they are worth as a Coin dealer company is in town

  • GUESS WHO

    I HAVE 1943 STEEL PENNY WITH NO MINT STAMP ON IT, SO I GUESS IT IS FROM WORTHLESS OL’ PHILADELPHIA, SO HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH? AND WHY IN THE HELL ARE THOSE STUPID OL’ COCKAMAMIE COPPER PENNIES FROM ’43 WORTH SO MUCH MORE AS I KEEP HEARING???

    • GUESS WHO

      AND WHY THE HELL DID THEY NEED COPPER SO BADLY FOR THEIR STUPID OL’ EVIL BOMBS. IT LOOKS LIKE STEEL WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE IN DEMAND THAN COCKAMAMIE COPPER, FOR THEIR OL’ EVIL STUPID TANKS AND SHIPS AND TRUCKS, AND GUNS AND SHIT, AND ALL SORTS OF OTHER EVIL SHIT THAT THEY USED TO MURDER MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WITH! NOT COCKAMAMIE OL’ COPPER! EVERY STUPID PENNY IS MADE OUT OF OL’ COCKAMAMIE COPPER! STEEL PENNIES ON THE OTHER HAND, ARE RARE! THEY SHOULD BE WORTH A HELL OF A LOT MORE.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi,

      With more than one billion steel cents struck in 1943 (mostly at the Philadelphia mint), that explains the much lower value (10 cents to $1, generally) of the 1943 steel cents, as opposed to the copper 1943 pennies, which number less than 40.

  • bryant

    My 1943 penny sticks to a magnet I guess I aint rich but how much is it worth right now in 2013?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Bryant –

      Your 1943 steel cent is worth 10 to 50 cents in circulated grades.

  • jony

    hii i have 4 pennys of 1943 how much is it worth ?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Jony –

      In total, your four 1943 steel cents are worth around 50 cents to $1 if they are in worn condition.

  • minnie

    I have a 1943 penny (it does stick to a magnet-so that value is out) but it is missing the “I” on LIBERTY. Other than that it looks real and I have looked closely under a magnifing glass. I don’t see a reference to that anywhere so I wonder what do you think?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Minnie –

      My best sight-unseen guess is that the coin was weakly struck OR received some heavy, localized damage/wear.

      Thanks for your question!

  • Terry Wilkie

    I have a 1943 penny that is large as a silver dollar >It does not stick to a magnet and it has the whitehouse on back nd lincoln on the front ,any idea of value?

  • Kill’em shon

    I have a ton of pennies n ole coins that I have know clue what they are worth

  • Kill’em shon

    I have a ton of ole coin don’t know what they are worth