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If You Have This Penny You Could Be $85,000 Richer

| by Michael Howard

A rare penny from 1943 is currently selling for up to $85,000 at auction.

The 1943 copper wheat penny, or the Wheat Cent, in average condition is worth around $60,000, while one in certified mint state condition -- determined by a coin grading company -- can be expected to fetch up to $85,782, according to CoinTrackers.

Only a few of these pennies were ever made and none of them were supposed to be released into the coin supply. All the pennies from that year were supposed to be minted as steel pennies or war pennies. Experts believe copper plates might have been tested at that time, or accidentally left among the steel plates from 1942.

CoinTrackers cautions people to look out for fraudulent versions of the 1943 copper wheat penny. For example, it is easy to take a 1948 copper penny and manipulate the 8 to make it look like a 3.

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Furthermore, there are plenty of copper plated 1943 steel pennies disguised as 1942 copper pennies. It is easy for scam artists to copper plate a steel coin and pass it off as solid copper. One way to test a coin's authenticity is to use a magnet. Steel coins will stick to the magnet, while copper coins will not.

In 2012, a 1943 Lincoln penny sold for $1 million. ABC News reported at the time that the coin had been wrongly made out of bronze at the San Francisco Mint, instead of zinc-coated steel. Bob Simpson, co-chairman of the Texas Rangers MLB team, bought the penny from Legend Numismatics, a rare coin dealer, which is based in New Jersey.

The coin was certified by the Professional Coin Grading Service, which graded it a 62 on a scale of 1 to 70.

"By error, some bronze planchets made it into the hoppers at all three Mints, were struck and released into circulation," the PCGS explained in a press release. "These have become the most famous and valuable of all off-metal errors."

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The purchase rounded out Simpson's collection of 1943 coins. He had already been in possession of two other bronze pennies from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.

"The Simpson collection now contains the finest known bronze cent from each Mint, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver, including the unique 1943-D bronze cent that PCGS certified after Legend acquired and sold to him for a record $1.7 million in 2010," PCGS President Don Willis said in a statement.

Sources: CoinTrackers, ABC News / Photo credit: Roman Oleinik/Wikimedia Commons

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