Now, some 70 years later, the coin is being auctioned off. and the current highest bid is well over $100,000.
Lincoln pennies produced in 1943 were meant to be made from zinc-coated steel, but a handful of coins put into circulation used copper instead.
Don Lutes Jr. was a 16-year-old high school student in MA when he stumbled across one of the most famous error coins in American history in the cafeteria in 1947. Their standard reply simply read: "In regard to your recent inquiry, please be informed that copper pennies were not struck in 1943".
The cent is one of the most famous error coins in USA history, pressed on copper and not zinc-plated steel. "Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens that had been struck in 1943".
In an effort to conserve copper, the Treasury Department asked the U.S. Mint to cast all pennies in 1943 out of zinc-coated steel blanks.
He contacted Ford, who told him that they weren't giving out cars in exchange for the coins after all. However, an accident at the U.S. Mint led to the creation of just a handful of copper pennies, which mixed in with the flood of zinc-coated steel coins being sent out.
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So Lutes concluded his coin was probably valueless, and stored it as a curiosity in his coin collection for the next seven decades. While the coin wasn't purchased off the auction block, it reportedly raked in $40,000 in a private sale shortly after. Heritage believes it could sell for $170,000 or moreat auction in Orlando.
The auction is set to end January 10, 2019.
Don Lutes, Jr., of Pittsfield, Massachusetts discovered a rare "copper" 1943 Lincoln Penny in his lunch money in 1947.
Sarah Miller of Heritage Auctions told SWNS (via Fox): "This is the most famous error coin in American numismatics and that's what makes this so exciting".
"They eventually became dislodged and were fed into the coin press, along with the wartime steel blanks".
A rare coin found by a high schooler in his lunch money has been valued at nearly $1.7million, following the owner's death. "PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at no more than 10-15 examples in all grades".
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