Before you go get your next lottery ticket, it might be more worthwhile to empty out your piggy-banks and check your pennies – they might just be worth millions!
The Curious History Of The Lincoln Penny
Since 1909, Lincoln pennies have been in widespread circulation. They were made from copper for almost the entire 20th century, except for one year during World War II. Copper couldn’t be wasted on pennies, it was a hotly sought after commodity for the war. That meant they had to make all the Lincoln pennies from a mystery material. Before we find out what that mystery material is, let’s see what pennies are normally made of.
Almost all pennies that were made before 1982 are composed almost entirely of copper – 95% to be exact. Either tin or zinc was used for the remaining 5%. After 1982, pennies changed to simply being copper-plated and 97.5% made up of zinc.
“We Want Guns, Not Pennies!”
Since the United States government needed as much copper as it could get its hands on for small arms ammunition shells during World War II, penny production in 1943 was much different than the norm. All pennies were either zinc-plated steel or much less frequently, they were made of zinc-plated copper.
Obviously, this was a big transition in production. The U.S. government did all they could to remove any steel pennies from circulation after the war, but they couldn’t quite get all of them. Any of the zinc-plated copper pennies printed during 1943 have become extremely valuable to collectors, and they’re willing to pay a “pretty penny” for them.
One Penny Sold For How Much?!?
In September 2010, one of these elusive Lincoln pennies sold for roughly 1.7 million to a coin collector who leaped on the opportunity at an auction. Before you get too carried away and start dreaming of all the elaborate vacations you’ll take on the back of your penny earnings, you might want to see if you have a valuable one or not!
Do You Have A Million Dollar Penny? Find Out For Sure!
First and foremost, check your penny to see if it was produced in 1943. If it wasn’t, that’s a quick disqualifier. Better luck next time!
Next, you’ll need to determine what materials the penny is comprised of. While not totally foolproof, the best way to evaluate this is by simply looking at the penny. If it looks like a nickel, dime, or a quarter, you might be out of the running. If it looks like a normal penny with a coppery color, you’re one step closer to your fortune!
Finally, you can also hold a magnet to the penny and see if the penny sticks to it. If it does, it’s steel.
So, if you’ve completed all of those tests and passed each one, get yourself and your penny over to an auction and sell! If not, you can be content to know that your steel penny might still fetch you $10-20 depending on the condition.
We might have lost you the second we told you your old pennies might be worth millions, but we hope you’ve found this story interesting if you’re still with us or are just returning from searching your couch cushions for spare change…