The Ultimate Guide To The 1944 Steel Penny: Like 1943 Copper Cents, It’s A Rare Coin That Collectors Crave

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy thru these links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.


If you collect coins, you know about the 1943 steel Lincoln cent.

But, what about the 1944 steel penny?

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 — making it one of the rarest Lincoln pennies ever made!

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.

The rare and valuable 1944 steel penny is worth tens of thousands of dollars.

How Much Are 1943 Copper Pennies & 1944 Steel Cents Worth?

The result?

Both the 1943 copper Lincoln cent and 1944 steel Lincoln penny are worth an incredible amount of money because they’re so rare.

They’re worth far more than the famous 1909-S VDB penny – the rarest regular-issue Lincoln cent:

  • The 1944 steel penny is worth between $85,000 and $110,000, depending on its condition.
  • The 1943 copper cent — with approximately 20 to 40 made and some 12 known to exist today, this coin can command a price of around $150,000 to $200,000.

Watch Out For Counterfeits

Of course, when a penny is worth more than $85,000, 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.

Lots Of Rare Pennies ...And How Muc...
Lots Of Rare Pennies ...And How Much They’re Worth Today (Most Are Worth $500+)

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 To Sell A 1944 Steel Penny Or A 1943 Copper Cent

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.

Don’t miss our latest tips!

Stay up to date with everything about U.S Coins

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy

88 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To The 1944 Steel Penny: Like 1943 Copper Cents, It’s A Rare Coin That Collectors Crave”

    • Hello,

      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!

      Reply
    • Dear Johua. Hi how are you. i ave so many coins some worh 100yrs and some 40 50 yrs. And i would like to sell them. Would you be able to guid me as to how i should go abt to sell them and to who. I live in kenya and i can sent you pictures ofthe coins. and ifneed be i can travel with them to the destination country where i may be ableto sell the. Kindly pls advise me.

      MRS. HASSANALI

      Reply
  1. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • 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.

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
    • 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!
      Josh

      Reply
        • Asking because I have one of course. It looks like a copper/bronze but when you move it in the light it has a silver color more around the rim the letters numbers and Abe himself.

          Reply
          • Hi, Brittney —

            If you’re looking at a Lincoln cent made since 1982, the silvery color is likely the zinc inner core of the coin, which sometimes gets exposed when the coin’s outer copper core gets worn away. As you may know, circulation-strike pennies made since 1982 aren’t solid copper but rather mainly zinc with a copper outer coating.

            I hope this helps answer your question.

            All the best,
            Josh

    • If you suspect you have a 1944 steel* cent you should have it examined by a knowledgeable expert. If it appears to be genuine it should be authenticated by one of the major grading services. That certification will be critical to getting the maximum value if the coin is genuine.

      * the metal has a double “e” 🙂

      Reply
  2. While helping a client today, she came across a jar of wheat pennies…..and in that jar, were also 2 silver wheat pennies…one is a 43 and one is a 44….both jumped on a magnet…..I’m taking my magnifying glass over tomorrow to confirm the dates. Of course they are blackened by age…is there a safe way to clean them as to not damage them? And without a scale, how can you determine if they are steel and not zinc coated copper? By the magnet?

    Reply
    • The very first thing to do is to strongly resist any urge to clean a coin. If there’s any chance it’s rare and/or collectible, the great majority of cleaning efforts risk doing more harm than good because they can damage the coin’s surface.

      Unfortunately it’s not easy to tell much about the ’44 without a scale. You might be able to ask a friend, a local pharmacist, or high school science teacher but taking it to a dealer would likely be both less hassle and give you a more-definitive answer. Best of luck!

      Reply
        • I’m not sure if a postal scale would be accurate enough but it’s worth a try. A pre-1982 bronze cent would weigh about 3.11 gm while a steel cent should come in around 2.7 gm.

          Worst case, you could always calibrate the scale first, by weighing a larger number of known-weight cents and dividing. E.g. post-1982 pennies weigh 2.5 gm so if you weigh 20 of them and get 48 gm you’d know your scale reads about 4% light.

          Reply
  3. No! Please check that date again. A 1944 copper cent is normal. Over a billion were made; in average condition they’re worth maybe 5 to 10 cents.

    The rare ones are 1943 copper and 1944 steel cents.

    Reply
  4. Aloha Joshua! I have come across what I believe to be a 1944 steel cent. That which is visible through the corrosion appears to have an unusual mint mark as well. I also discovered a badly corroded 1943 (date visible) steel cent lkast month. I hunt apx. 50,000 cents weekly. Is there any way to determine the date and mm by removing the rust without damaging the coin?

    Reply
    • The magnet test should be done first for any suspected off-metal ’43 or ’44 cent. If your ’44 doesn’t stick, it’s probably simply discolored. If it does, you should have your coin authenticated.

      Corrosion can be difficult to remove. If it’s greenish, you have an oxidation byproduct called verdigris which can be softened in some olive oil; you can probably remove some of it with a soft cloth. Be very careful because there is a known “D over S” mint mark variety on 1944 cents that could be valuable if the coin isn’t too badly oxidized.

      1943 “steelies” had a distressing tendency to rust if the zinc coating was damaged. Unfortunately corroded ones are really only of interest as curiosities.

      Reply
  5. Don’t try to clean rare coins. If you have a real rarity like the one in this article, you could be knocking 10s of 1000s of dollars of value off of it. Discriminating collectors want natural coins, and grading services will note any cleaning in their evaluations. While I’m not an expert, and there probably are some ways to clean coins safely, surely don’t try it yourself. Even seemingly innocent dipping solutions for silver coins cause damage and are obvious to the trained eye. Talk to a top expert!

    Reply
  6. I have a 1944 wheat cent with No mint mark. It doesn’t (does not) stick to a magnet but it has the copper/brown color same as the rest of my wheat pennies. Could it be worth anything? Are all steel cents silver in color?

    Reply
    • Hi, Molly —

      It sounds like you have a regular 1944 Lincoln cent made at the Philadelphia Mint (no mintmark on 1944 pennies), and such a piece in worn condition is worth about 5 cents.

      In general, steel pennies are silvery to grey in color, though some pieces are corroded or have other forms of damage, which can render then dark brown, or even black in color.

      Thank you for your question,
      Josh

      Reply
  7. High goes everyone today? Ok. I have 3 1944’s wheat pennies. One with no mint on it an the other’s with the letter S . And I also have a 1942 pennie with no mint on it. Are any of these pennies worth any thing.

    Reply
    • Hello, Lisa —

      Here are the values of your coins, assuming each is in average circulated condition:

      *1942 (Philadelphia – no mintmark) cent: 5 to 10 cents
      *1943 steel cent: 15 to 30 cents
      *1943-S (San Francisco): 15 to 30 cents each

      Thank you for your question!
      Josh

      Reply
  8. I have a 1923 no mint mark penny.1920 with a D mint mark. 1919 with a S mint. 1917 with no mint..what could these be worth and how rare are these

    Reply
    • Hello, Lonnie —

      While none of the coins you listed are considered rare per se, they are certainly scarce, obsolete coins. Here are approximate values for your old pennies, assuming they are in average circulated condition:

      *1917 – 10 to 20 cents
      *1919-S – 15 to 25 cents
      *1920-D – 15 to 20 cents
      *1923 – 30 to 50 cents

      Here’s some more info on what pennies are valuable; you may enjoy reading it and looking for these coin in circulation and elsewhere: https://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/valuable-pennies/

      Good luck!
      Josh

      Reply
  9. i buy rolls of wheat pennies just the last 10 years…i get them from a collector that has built a wheat penny collection 1000 fold from just working at a convenient store for over 15 years and getting most of them in change…sorry, but here is my question, after buying 2 rolls of steel pennies from him and opening the roll i noticed these steel pennies has lost ALL of its brilliants…how can i bring back its shine? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8bb7fab92a6beb47b3058c133f5950d1172ea823b01e7e578e10446dc68e0d0b.jpg

    Reply
    • Hi, John —

      I’m afraid there is no way to bring back the shine on the coin without replating it with zinc. Even if there were a way to restore the luster without replating, the coins would be worth less than they are now. In coin collecting, most collectors tend to appreciate circulated coins in their original state of preservation as when they were found. So, reshining the coins would actually have a negative affect on overall value.

      All my best,
      Josh

      Reply
  10. are all the 1970 quarters worth anything? I heard they are printed over another coin….are all made that way? thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Hi, Angel —

      Virtually all worn 1970 Washington quarters are worth face value. The error you heard about is presumed to be a one-off accident that occurred when a 1941 Canadian quarter somehow, perhaps as a prank, wound up getting struck in a batch of 1970 quarters. As this error is apparently unique, there are most likely none others out there like it.

      Still keep an eye out though, for other amazing errors are floating around in circulation!

      Good luck,
      Josh

      Reply
  11. I hv a 1943 steel wheet the rumor is even the steel penneis are fetching big money becuose of the mint mark doubling or tripling of diff datees on coin ill post a pick

    Reply
  12. I have a roll of zinc 1943 pennies some of them are missing the 4 in there date is that something you have heard about?

    Reply
    • Hi, Cookie —

      I have heard of and seen (by way of photos) other pieces like this; sometimes the missing digit was intentionally removed, and in other cases they were lightly struck. Do you have any photos of these coins that I may see to be of further assistance?

      Thank you,
      Josh

      Reply
  13. I have a few 1944-D steel pennies I inherited form my grandfathers collection that are in very nice shiny condition. How much would you roughly estimate these to be?

    I always appreciate your willingness to help us all!
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hello, Taen —

      Would you please share a photo of these 1944-D steel cents so I can help further as to their value, etc.?

      Thanks,
      Josh

      Reply
  14. i have couple of 1944 pennies among others in the 40s and 50s and three steel pennies that are looking rough on one side what is there worth just out of curiosity ..and a 1925 or 26 buffalo nickel number are faded out…what can u tell me bout these coins

    Reply
  15. I think I may have found myself a 1944 steel
    penny. No mint mark on it, how else can I test it? It is magnetic, so that has gotten me excited. Any suggestions? Would a kitchen scale work to weigh it properly?

    Reply
  16. Hi Joshua,

    I was left a large amount of old coins from a loved one that passed. I am not a coin collector, but I do find them interesting. While looking through them I started Googling the really old ones. I found a penny that looked to be Silver. I thought it was just tarnished. When I looked it up on UScoinbook.com I discovered “Steel Pennies” . Now, of course I got excited. I was rich for about 10 minutes till I noticed the mint was in the wrong place. Then upon further inspection, I convinced myself that maybe that’s not a mint after all? So I Googled 1944 S Steel Penny No Mint. Well, I’m back to being rich again. Anywho, I have attached a few pics. Would you be able to tell me if it is worth my time to find a coin dealer in my area, or is it a super duper fake? Thanks so much.

    P.S. It looks silver in real life.

    Sincerly,

    Not Sure if I’m Rich (or just Shannon) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ceced47d7ef6e1a176cc3fff7f205bf9d56e1341b1cd490f80dad300c423bca8.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8fcd2f3e4ffc59d05805ee3858da5bc5f668e4f1b565ff409a44fecba606ee12.jpg

    Reply
    • Hey, Shannon!

      I’m sorry to hear of your loved one’s passing, but you have an interesting story… We need to do two things to determine what’s going on with your 1944 penny. First, we need to see if it’s magnetic and we also should determine its weight.

      A 1944 steel cent — the kind that’s rare and valuable — should be both magnetic AND weigh about 2.7 grams. The common 1944 bronze cent is NOT magnetic and weighs about 3.11 grams.

      Once we can get details on those two things, we can go from there… Hoping you can soon sign your comments as “Rich Shannon”!

      Good luck,
      Josh

      Reply
      • Whomp, whomp, whomp, my penny is not magnetic 🙁 No Maserati for me. Thank you so much for your help. It was fun getting excited for a few minutes.

        Graciously,

        Rich for 5 minutes
        Shannon

        Reply
    • Those look pretty good, get a coin person to look at them, but don’t be tempted to sell if he offers to buy because your gonna get burnt if not very careful.

      Reply
  17. Hi I am really knew at this, I have some old coins and I did what I read about the 1943-1944 pennies, the weight and magnet thing. So I tried it and both worked, but I am not a collector and some are really in bad shape, dates you can just barley see, you also mention not to clean them. Who can I really trust out there that won’t try to scam me.

    Reply
    • Hi, Michelle —

      I’m a little unsure about whether or not you’re saying the 1943 pennies and 1944 pennies stick to a magnet or not. Hmm… Would you mind uploading some clear photos of the coins you’re asking about along with some descriptions of those pieces? I’d be glad to help — and yes, there are some reputable, credible dealers and organizations with long histories of great reputations that I can recommend to you once we figure out what it is we’re dealing with here.

      Best wishes,
      Josh

      Reply
  18. When I was a kid around 1959 I had a coin collection and had three steel pennies and they got lost in a move, my father was a Methodist pastor and we were moved a lot in his ministry. Just think if I had those now at 70 they could sure help. I also had a cigar box half full of Indian head pennies. Think on that long enough it makes one sick,

    Reply
    • Sorry, your 3 steel pennies were undoubtedly 1943 ones, and would be worth very little today, perhaps a dollar or less unless in perfect condition. About a billion were made. Maybe that will make you feel better. If they were 1944 you’d be rich, but that’s because so few exist.

      Reply
  19. I am not very experienced but I have run across a 1943 Steel penny that is missing the “S” in pluribus so it looks like “Pluribu” but I can’t seem to find anything on it being identified anywhere. Any insight on this?

    Reply
  20. OK I have something for you to see. I found two pennies together one is a steel 1943 and the other is a copper bronze colored what I believe to be a 1943 I have weighed it but it weighs at 2.9 and at 3.0. It does not stick to metal but of course the steel one does. The coin is damaged. I have done layovers with an actual 1943 copper bronze sent to see if the numbers match it has the three with the long part on the bottom of it the four lines up perfectly. I took it to a coin shop here locally and they said that they can’t tell so I was hoping maybe you can tell. I know I won’t get as much money for it but I know in my gut that it is that Penny and I think you’ll agree to if you look at my pictures so I’m going to attach as many as I can here I will attach the actual front of the coin then I will attach the back of the coin a couple of shots then I will attach the layovers of the front of the coin with the 1943 original penny on top of it please let me know your thoughts thank you.

    Reply
    • Hello, ShellionessLove —

      I hope that you do have the real McCoy here! Checking the weight of the coin, its magnetic nature, and shaping of the letters and numbers are indeed the first steps in this case. Clear photos would definitely help me a little further in advising you on what you have and any next steps on what to do. If the photos are formatted as JPG and are under 2 MB each they should load here. Maybe they can be reformatted as medium-resolution JPG if they aren’t already?

      I hope this uploading advice helps and that I can assist you further!

      Thank you for reaching out,
      Josh

      Reply
      • So sorry for the delay. I am trying to upload these photos but its not working. Let me try once more. Im going to try to copy paste or give a link to the photos.

        Reply
  21. I cannot post pictures on here for some reason so maybe if I can get an email or something I will put them there otherwise I’ll have to put them in the correct format for this just let me know thanks

    Reply
  22. I just realized those machine coin sorters at Walmart, and thousands of grocery stores country wide probably have a big magnet on them to catch one of those penny’s. Curious if that conspiracy theory pans out.

    Reply
    • Nope, if anything it would be spat out because typical coin sorters like that don’t accept steel pennies, which are sent to the reject bin.

      Reply

Leave a Comment