Vintage | Hidden Gems

Rare Penny Set To Sell For Millions At Auction

Andy Eick - Flickr / Heritage Auctions

A rare coin discovered in a teenager’s lunch money is about to sell for - yes, you guessed it - a pretty penny.

The rare coin will cost much more than the 1 cent value it’s stamped with, as experts say it could fetch $1.65 million at auction this week - the price a similar coin sold for in 2010.

The coin, from 1943, looks like any other copper penny at first. But in fact it’s one of just about 20 pennies ever produced with a unique error. In fact, the coins are so rare the government actually denied they existed for years.

Rare penny
This penny is worth much,much more than you might guess.Heritage Auctions

What makes the penny so special? It’s actually not supposed to be made from copper, which was rationed during World War 2.

Pennies from 1943 should be made of steel coated with zinc, but when bronze sheets were accidentally fed into a coin press a small number of copper pennies were printed by mistake.

Steel pennies
"Steelie" pennies from the 1940s replaced copper ones.mumford1958 - eBay

Somehow, rumors of the copper pennies started swirling just after they were minted, and the public started hunting for them.

Heritage Auctions, which is organizing the sale, says that "only a handful of legitimate specimens" have ever been discovered in the decades since.

Don Lutes Jr., a high school student from Massachusetts, discovered the lucky penny that’s up for auction this week way back in 1947, while checking the change from his lunch.

1943 copper penny
The Lutes penny could fetch millions at this week's auction.Heritage Auctions

Lutes had heard a rumor that business tycoon Henry Ford would trade the highly sought-after copper pennies for a new car. That turned out not to be true, but luckily for Lutes he kept the coin anyway.

He also tried contacting the Treasury Department about his find, but at the time they were convinced 1943 copper pennies were "a hoax" and told him so.

Thankfully, Lutes didn’t listen.

While $1.6 million seems like a hefty sum for one small coin, Lutes’ penny could actually fetch even more at auction.

Since these coins are so, so rare, coin collectors could break the bank trying to get their hands on this one.

[H/T: Fox News]

Have you ever found a rare coin?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com