The Ultimate Guide to the 1944 Steel Penny: Like 1943 Copper Cents, It’s a Coin that Collectors Crave

1944-steel-centIf you collect coins, you know about the 1943 steel Lincoln cent.

But, what about the 1944 steel pennny?

While the U.S. Mint struck more than a billion steel pennies in 1943, about 35 examples of the zinc-coated steel cent are known to have been inadvertently struck bearing the date 1944.


Why Were Some 1944 Pennies Struck in Steel?

A popular theory is that some steel coin blanks, or planchets, were left in the hoppers and accidentally distributed.

Another possibility is that some planchets for Belgian two-franc coins (which the Philadelphia mint briefly made for the European nation) were accidentally struck with the Lincoln cent dies.

While it will probably always remain unknown precisely what caused the 1944 silver penny, as some call it, what we do know is this – the 1944 steel penny has just about as much interest swirling around it as does the 1943 copper cent, an error coin of the opposite kind; brass Lincoln cent planchets from 1942 likely languished in the coin hoppers and were fed down the line to be stamped with 1943 Lincoln cent dies.


How Much are the 1943 Copper Pennies and 1944 Steel Cents Worth?

The result?

Both the 1943 copper Lincoln cent and 1944 steel Lincoln penny are worth an incredible amount of money.

Worth far more than the famous 1909-S VDB penny – the rarest regular-issue Lincoln cent, the 1944 steel penny is worth between $75,000 and $110,000, based on condition.

The 1943 copper cent — with only 40 made and 12 known to exist today — can command a price of around $150,000 to $200,000.


Watching Out for Counterfeits

Of course, when a penny is worth more than $75,000, you’d expect a few counterfeit examples to be floating around out there. In fact, there are thousands of counterfeit 1943 copper cents and 1944 steel cents floating around, and the trick comes in knowing how to spot them.

With 1944 steel cents, it’s easy for an unscrupulous person to simply tinker with the last digit of the date on a typical 1943 steel cent, even scraping away the “3” and implanting a zinc-coated “4” removed from a 1944 copper cent.

There are also countless 1944 copper pennies that have been covered in zinc plating but, as you might have guessed, there would be a great weight discrepancy between a steel cent and its heavier sibling, the copper cent. In fact, there’s about a half-gram difference, which is easily measurable on a coin scale.

Also, steel cents are by their very metallic nature magnetic, so a 1944 penny that appears to be silvery in color should be tested with a magnet to ensure that it is indeed the real deal.

In the case of the 1943 copper cent, often bona fide 1948 cents are manipulated. It wouldn’t be relatively difficult to remove the left side of the “8” on the 1948 Lincoln cent, which is why many counterfeit 1943 copper pennies are actually 1948 one-cent coins.

Thankfully, there’s a very easy way to tell genuine 1943 copper pennies apart from those that were “former” 1948 pennies.

In case you haven’t noticed, the font styling of real 1943 pennies created an elongated tail at the bottom part of the “3” in the date; in fact, the “3” extends well below the bottom of the other numerals in the date. The bottoms of all of the numerals in the date of 1948 pennies, on the other hand, fall roughly in line with each other. So, if your 1943 copper penny doesn’t have a long “3,” then it’s not genuine.


Where Do I Sell a 1944 Steel Penny or 1943 Copper Cent if I Have One?

So, your 1944 steel cent weighs around 2.7 grams or your 1943 copper penny seems to check out? What do you do with these coins?

Your next step is to have your coin authenticated by a third-party coin grading company. They will use a series of diagnostic factors and tests to determine if your 1944 steel penny or 1943 copper cent are real.

If your 1943 copper cent or 1944 steel penny is graded as genuine, then congratulations! There are auction companies throughout the United States that would love to put a coin like yours on the block. These include Sotheby’s, Stack’s Bowers, and Teletrade.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

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'm a member of both the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). 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, food, and living green.

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Fun From Around the Web

  • Familia De Alba Mariscal

    I have a 1944 penny how do I know if it is real??

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide


      While it’s unlikely a 1944 penny, which is worth between 5 and 10 cents in worn grades, would be counterfeited, there are ways to tell if a copper penny is real or not.

      Authentic copper pennies (those made before late 1982) weigh 3.11 grams. Any pre-1983 penny weighing significantly more or less than that probably isn’t real, except for the 1943/4 steel cents (which weigh 2.70 grams) or 1982 zinc cents (2.5 grams).

      I hope this helps!

  • CollectotConnor123

    I have a 1981 penny with a 1 that looke doubled. What do you think it is, and if it is anything, how much is it worth?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Connor —

      I tend to think this is some type of die break or die chip rather than a doubled die, based on the appearance of the aberration and how the surrounding devices rest of the coin look.

      If this is a die chip/break, the value of the coin could vary from $1 to $5 or more, based on collector interest.


  • Dre King

    I have a 1909 v d b penny in a 1943 steel penny is it worth n e thing

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Dre —

      Yes, your coins do have collector value! The 1909 VDB is worth $2 to $4 in well worn condition and your 1943 steel cent is worth 10 to 25 cents in circulated condition.


  • joey

    I have a 1944 steal penny I looked it up it says it can b worth up 100,000 or more is that really true?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Joey —

      It’s true that the 1944 steel penny, a rarity by any measure can be worth not only $100,000, but also much more. The 1943 steel cent, on the other hand, is a very common coin (over 1 billion produced) and is generally worth 10 to 50 cents in worn condition.

      I hope this answer clarifies things!

  • Lupita Hernandez Rivera

    I have a 1944 D copper wheat penny could it be worth anything?

  • John Merkel

    i think i have an 1888 over 7

  • Kk

    How much is a 1944 copper penny worth? And does anyone have any offers

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, KK —

      A 1944 Lincoln cent, if worn, is worth about 5 cents.