1943 Lincoln Cents: The Value of Steel vs Copper Pennies

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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.

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149 thoughts on “1943 Lincoln Cents: The Value of Steel vs Copper Pennies”

  1. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  2. 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

    Reply
    • 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).

      Reply
  3. 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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  4. 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

    Reply
  5. 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

    Reply
    • 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: https://www.facebook.com/TheFunTimesGuideToCoins

      Reply
  6. 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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply
  8. 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

    Reply
  9. 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???

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  10. 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?

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  11. 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?

    Reply
    • Hello, Analiz —

      When it comes to authenticating a 1943 bronze penny, there are several diagnostic factors that must be considered. One would be the weight (one must weigh around 3.11 grams, plus or minus a few hundreths of a gram), and the coin must have not been manipulated. Many forgers have retooled 1942, 1948, and other bronze Lincoln cent issues with “3” from steel cents.

      When it comes to evaluating a 1943 bronze cent, I highly recommended in-hand assessment by a reputable third-party coin authentication firm, such as PCGS, NGC, or ANACS.

      Here’s some more advice on that front: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/slabbed_coins/

      Good luck!

      Reply
    • Hello, Juan —

      A 1943 steel cent is worth roughly 15 to 25 cents in worn condition.

      Thanks for your question!

      Reply
      • I have all kinds of coins, half dollars, dollar coins and more, from different country’s! France, German, and a lot more! Would they be worth anything? Also have 2 1943 coins , one with a d on it! But they do stick to a magnetic! So they are fake? Wheat pennies!

        Reply
    • Hi, Deborah —

      If your 1943 Lincoln cent sticks to a magnet, it means it’s a steel cent — the common kind that’s worth 10 to 25 cents. The rare 1943 penny is the bronze penny, which will not stick to a magnet.

      The 1943 steel cent is still a great find though! Those coins are very historic.

      Reply
  12. can anyone tell me if there is any value to Spanish milled dollars. I have a five, ten, two and a one that have the date 1776 and is signed by different people.

    Reply
  13. I think I have two of them no joke. earlier today I had my grandpas old bag of money when he passed away and I was sorting them out by their dates and what kind of metal the coin was and I found these Abraham Lincoln Penny’s that dated as far as 1906,1921,1899 and bam these to 1943 Penny’s where in the 1940 pile so I did some research and found that if you put a magnet on it and I sticks its not copper so I’m putting the Penny’s on the magnet one by one I originally had five or six are getting near the end of the five or six two of them stuck to the magnet so how much does the Penny’s cost if it’s in my possession

    Reply
    • Hi, Cameron —

      If the pennies stick to a magnet, that means they’re steel cents. 1943 steel cents, if in worn condition, are worth 10 to 25 cents each.

      Neat finds! Those are definitely historic coins.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  14. Joshua please can you help me I have no idea what to do with the Penny’s and most of them I haven’t even took out of the bag because it’s so huge

    Reply
  15. hi have come across a 1943 d copper wheat penny I have had it looked at it has been tested with a magnet and weighed 3.1and now I am just looking for some future advice.could you help please.

    Reply
  16. I have a silver 1943 penny and its in excellent condition. Im looking to get rid of it to serious inquires only. You can reach me on facebook. Steven Mynatt Jr. or you can leave me your name and number and I will call you. Im new on here and dont know much about this online stuff.

    Reply
  17. Were there any steel pennies with the mint mark “P”? Because I think I have one unless it’s just received lots of wear in certain spots.

    Reply
    • Hi, Wonder —

      Officially, no 1943 cents were struck with a “P” mintmark. Either your coin may have mis-shapen “D” or “S” mintmark or it has been altered.

      Thanks for your question,
      Josh

      Reply
      • Thank you for answering my question! I am starting out with my coin collection, my family members usually give me any coins for Christmas or as a gift. Just like today actually my grandpa gave me a 1923 buffalo nickel and a 1905 Indian head penny. I also saw a three cent piece and those coins are so small I didn’t think it was an American coin. But I love your coin discussions and how knowledgeable you are in coins.

        Reply
        • Thank you so very much for your kind comments! I’m always glad to help and am excited for you on your coin collecting journey. Keep your eyes peeled for anything that looks interesting or that you enjoy collecting, and always keep checking your change!

          Happy collecting,
          Josh

          Reply
    • Hi, Sarah —

      Are you referring to the 1943 steel cents? If so, and none are damaged, all of them should be worth from around 10 to 25 cents each.

      Reply
  18. hello Joshua,i have a 1944 and 1941 one cent coin no mint marks that does not stick to a magnet near mint condition any luck on these

    Reply
    • Hello, Emmanuel —

      Your 1941 and 1944 Lincoln cents are worth 3 to 5 cents if well worn; you say they are “near mint.” In Extra Fine to About Uncirculated grades, 1941 and 1944 Lincoln cents are worth around 25 cents each.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  19. Hi,i got a question for you,how i can know if i have a bronze or copper penny???and how much would be their value?????
    I have few 1944s and up

    Reply
    • Hi, Alberto —

      As far as determining a bronze penny from a steel penny, it’s a matter of weight. Bronze Lincoln cents weigh 3.11 grams, whereas a steel cent has a weight of 2.8 grams. Also, steel pennies stick to a magnet, while copper pennies don’t

      I hope this helps!
      Josh

      Reply
  20. Joshua, I have a 1943 penny not sticking to magnet! How can I verify it is what I’m hoping it is? Please help with some 411 on how you think I can get the most money for it if it is indeed a copper 1943 penny.

    Reply
    • Hello, Cameron –

      Wow, well, it passed the first test of several to determine if it is indeed the elusive 1943 bronze Lincoln cent. We would also need to know its weight (it should be 3.11 grams), check for any signs of date alteration (commonly, 1948 Lincoln cents are altered to render the appearance of a 1943 copper piece), and would need to check for other diagnostics.

      Should the coin check out in all those regards, contacting an auction house is the way to go. But, before getting to that stage, the coin would need to be authenticated and certified by a major coin grading company. Here’s some more info on these so-called “slabbed” coins

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  21. Hi mr Josh,the picture I sending here,these are 4 1992 ‘d’s pennies,if you check them
    The right top corner is the common one,if you check the rest from the top of the neck and the back of the chin,you will notice a little gap,like missing a part of the beard,how
    Common is this defect.???from the hundreds I have seen,I have seen only 4 like these
    The Philadelphia penny has the same defects but the gap on the beard is less,smaller I should say,and less common,I think,bcos I only have found 2 of them ,from the hundreds I check each week, i hope a good opinion,greetings

    Reply
    • Hi, Patrick —

      Your 1943 Lincoln cent appears bronze and does NOT stick to a magnet? May I please see a photo of this coin and also find out its weight in grams, down to the hundredth, if possible?

      Thank you!
      Josh

      Reply
  22. ok i have a 1943 d penny looks bronze or copper, i weighted it and it ways less than 3,1 grams but the sides are worn down almost to the letters , did this penny lose weight cause of circulation ? it looks really legit ? ideas , could this still be real but lost weight from circulation?

    Reply
    • Hi, Patrick —

      Without seeing a photo of this piece, I’m doubtful about its authenticity for a few reasons (weight, diameter, etc.), but am still interested in please checking out a picture to see what might be going on.

      Thank you,
      Josh

      Reply
  23. I have 3 1943 silver (at least in appearance) pennies they’ve been in cardboard & plastic for as long as I can remember. what can I do to test them without damaging them ?

    Reply
    • Hi, Dezetta —

      I don’t think you would need to test these coins. If they appear silver in color, then they are the common 1943 steel cents. If they are in cardboard or plastic, they likely represent all three mints (Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco) and thus represent a complete set of that year’s steel cents. I’d suggest leaving them as they are – I bet it’s a nice set! If they are lightly worn, the set’s worth about $1.50, whereas if the coins are uncirculated, their value as a group is closer to $5 to possibly $10.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  24. I found this 1943 steel penny ..the magnet sticks to it but I think that I see some doubling on it… ca you help me please?

    Reply
    • Hi there, Wendy!

      I’m checking the photos but seem to be missing the apparent doubling. Where do you see it?

      Thank you!
      Josh

      Reply
      • maybe I used the wrong terminology. ..it just looked very differenton the date and in the TRUST part of in god we trust

        Reply
        • No worries, Wendy! The terminology you used is correct in the numismatic sense, but I don’t see any on this coin. It seems there may be some moderate corrosion mis-shaping the lettering; the tail of the “3” in the date should be unusually long on this coin, too. At any rate, this is a keeper worth about 10 cents!

          Nice find,
          Josh

          Reply
          • Thank you. .. I wanted to ask you about a penny that I found that is missing the L in liberty?

    • Ah, yes! Thoughts indeed. This is a piece of coin art made from a 1906 Indian penny. It seems to be a very old mounting that may have once been ensconced into a piece of jewelry or perhaps used a good luck token. Such pieces are usually worth $5 to $10.

      Neat!
      Josh

      Reply
  25. Hi, Wendy!

    Indeed I have seen this before; it looks like the “L” was weakly struck and/or that there is heavy wear on the left side of the coin. While indeed eye-catching, it is worth face value.

    Thank you for your question!
    Josh

    Reply
  26. I went to your nickel article and I was trying to find out if my piece was worth anything…this is the photo of that piece. Please help me figure this out

    Reply
    • Hi, Amber —

      That is a very nice World War II coin set! I would put the value of all those coins at between $30 and $40.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Dayan —

      Assuming this is a 1909 Philadelphia (no mintmark) Lincoln cent, it’s worth $1.50 to $3 based on what I see in this image.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hello, Jessica –

      Circulated 1943 steel pennies are worth 10 to 50 cents each. They’re usually bought in bulk for a slightly lower price than individual pieces; I would say that you should make somewhere between $3.50 and $7 on that roll assuming, again, they’re in typical worn condition.

      Good luck!
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hello, Robert —

      It’s really a nicely circulated steel cent you have. I would put its value at 25 to 50 cents, which is the going rate for a lightly circulated 1943 steel cent like yours.

      Thank you for your question and photos!
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Orlando —

      This coin will need to be weighed and tested metallurgically by a specialist. If it is one of the very rare 1943 bronze cents, it could be worth several thousand dollars. But it needs to be evaluated in-hand and, given the extreme corrosion this coin has, it’s pretty difficult to determine by photos alone.

      I hope this info helps get you going in the right direction!
      Josh

      Reply
  27. Hi i found a 1943 penny and it doesn’t stick to a magnet and doesn’t have a mint marking on it. Is this worth anything?

    Reply
  28. Hello Joshua, I found a small bag with about 50 wheat pennies in it. I looked at the list of one’s to look for and found 8 1944 pennies with the “S or D” on them. Also 3 1946 S, 3 1943 steel ones. Think they are worth selling or holding on to?

    Reply
  29. hello,
    I have a 1943 penny that sticks to a magnet but it appears to be silver grey tone that has rubbed off at the Lincoln head and figure and that area shows a copper color….what could it be ?

    Reply
    • Hi, SD —

      The coppery color that you see b yLincoln’s head is actually rust or another form of corrosion on the steel inner core that was exposed when the zinc outer coating was worn off. Your 1943 steel cent, an historic relic from the World War II era, is worth about 10 cents.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
      • Hi, Mary —

        The best way to determine what this coin is would be to weight it. If the coin weighs 2.7 grams, it is a steel cent and is worth 15 to 30 cents in this condition. A copper 1943 cent weighs about 3.11 grams.

        Thank you for your comments,
        Josh

        Reply
  30. Thanks for the article. I found 5 steel 1943 pennies. I don’t normally collect coins, but since I found some old coins, thought I’d check out your site! So far, no steel 1944 and no copper 1943. I appreciate all the info you’re sharing here. Saw that I should NOT clean coins, per your site. Now to determine the value. Pictures of the different grades would be helpful. Haven’t seen that yet.

    Reply
  31. I have what I believe is a Steel 1943 Penny (sticks to a magnet and weighs 2.8 grams). However, it does look to be in decent condition and I just noticed it looks like it is slightly off centered when it was struck. Still only a 50 cent max piece?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/17ff1ad7ab7774d01f01d16f8a3f7f53033a4a8d500038ac40331d469349c8cd.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/02ae9f6d1904f53f12241def0f877e9426a8dcb90ba8c3635efdbedb3319768d.jpg

    Reply
    • Hi, Mike —

      This is a very nice, circulated 1943 cent, but I’m afraid the coin isn’t far enough off-center for it to have any premium as an off-center coin; generally, a coin must be 5 to 10 percent for it to break the threshold of being an off-center coin collectible on those merits alone. Not to say you can’t collect a coin that’s 1 to 2 percent off-center, but it won’t necessarily stand on those legs alone as an error coin if you go sell it, because such misalignments are rather common. Generally, if a 1943 cent is circulated, its value is not more than 50 cents to $1.

      Still, an historic World War II relic worth hanging on to!

      Cheers,
      Josh

      Reply
  32. Hello, I’ve got a 1943 copper lincoln wheat penny from I believe the philidelphia mint but it could be the san francisco mint. I’ve put a magnet to it with no reaction what so ever. I took it to a coin dealer in louisville kentucky along with my 1856 flying eagle which he was more interested in, and my 1846 braided hair half cent. He looked at the penny and said you know thats just a silver penny, and i said i know but I put a magnet to it and nothing happened. So he tried and got the same result, which got him excited but he was still more interested in the eagle. Guess he was a collecter of that series, but anyway, I am going to post a pic. I did notice a slight double on the back on the last work on top. the unim or whatever. what does that mean?, and what is your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hi, Kevin —

      Hmmm… this is an interesting situation. I’d need to kindly see photos of these coins to provide any type of valuable input, so if you wouldn’t mind posting images of these coins here I’d be happy to take a closer look and see what is going on and also provide my insight on what these coins may be worth.

      I look forward to hearing more from you!

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • Hi, Kevin —

      The “3” has the roughly the right style but its faded. Do you know what this coin weighs? It should come in at 3.11 grams, give or take a few hundredths.

      Thank you for the photos,
      Josh

      Reply
  33. Hi. I have a bunch of those old penny-collecting books (with pennies inside) that I found in my parents’ house. Most of them are 1941 +, but one book is the first series starting in 1909. What do you suggest I do to get them evaluated. I don’t want to start handling them for fear of impairing any value the coins might have. I’m also afraid that I coin shop would try to rip me off. 🙁

    Reply
    • Hello, Adrien —

      I’d be glad to help here. I suggest reading this post on the 43 pennies worth saving… https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/valuable-pennies/

      If you have any of these in the folders then by all means make sure you get a fair price for them.

      Generally speaking, if the coins are worn, and NONE are on that list I shared above in the link, then the coins from they’re likely worth between 5 and 20 cents each for any dates from before 1959. You should get 1.5 to 2 cents each for circulated pennies made between 1959 and 1981, and face value for worn pennies made afterward.

      Of course, there are error coins and rare varieties that are worth more, and these can be sometimes difficult to spot. How do you get these checked out? If you spot something unusual please post a photo here… I’ll also be happy to assist if you wish to post any photos of the coins you have or write a list of the dates and their mintmarks (little letters under the date on pennies).

      In the meantime, here are some tips on how to find good coin dealers: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/coin_dealer/

      And here’s a searchable list of coin dealers around the country: https://png.memberclicks.net/find-a-png-dealer

      Best wishes,
      Josh

      Reply
  34. Hi Joshua

    I have a 1943 Lincoln Steel coin that is suppose to be a Double Die. I bought it for $65, it sticks to a magnet so it is steel and it’s in good shape being uncirculated What I’n very feverishly concerned with is if it’s indeed a Double Die coin. I will share part of my profit with you if this is indeed a double die; I will get it graded; it should be at least an MS63 in the condition it’s in. Please let me know I I got financially shanked; I will get my money back. Thanks

    Reply

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