The Gold and Silver Mine
By: Douglas Keefe
I know I’ve written about these coins in the past, but sometimes I need to repeat the story so those that didn’t see it can understand what caused these rare coins to come into existence. Also, because my articles will now be posted on our web page beachcombercoinsinc.com with the intent to place my articles on line so they will reach an audience beyond Brigantine.
It seems that not a week goes by where someone with a 1943 steel (some call them silver ) cent thinks they found a rare coin. Hopefully this will clear up the confusion.
At the start of 1943 we had been at war for almost 2 years and all production was geared toward the war effort with many items including food and gasoline being rationed. Since copper was a key metal necessary for bullets and shells in artillery, it made no sense to use this metal to mint one cent coins. Therefore it was decided that all 1943 one cent coins were to be struck using steel with a zinc coating. This was to be done at all 3 mints, the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco mints.
Well, remember Murphy, the guy who created Murphy’s Law “anything that can go wrong, will”? While things didn’t actually go wrong, there was something that wasn’t expected or considered as to what effect it would have in the future. That was there were a few copper blanks left over from 1942 that were not minted into one cent coins. Mint workers, not giving any consideration just threw those copper blanks into the minting presses along with the steel blanks. This occurred at both the Philadelphia and San Francisco mints. No one knows the exact number of copper blanks that were turned into 1943 cents, but it couldn’t have been more than a handful since very few have surfaced after all these years.
If you think this was a one-time occurrence, think again because Murphy was still lurking in the mints. As a result of a major salvage effort, boat loads of used shell casings were recovered from the battlefields, shipped back to the states and processed into material that could be used to strike one cent coins. But, (there is
always a But) as in 1943, some steel cent blanks were left over and found their way into the minting process, resulting in a few rare 1944 steel cents.
How rare is rare and what could someone owning one of these coins expect to receive? There is no guarantee, but valuations of plus or minus $100,000 depending on condition would not be unheard of. Now the question is “have they all been found ?” to which the answer is “no one knows”, so if you are feeling lucky, grab a handful of copper and steel cents and check the dates.
The Example on the left depicts the rare 1943 Copper Cent, white the right example depicts the rare 1944 D Steel cent!!!!!!!