Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Rare coin found in boy's lunchbox worth $2.4 million

Rare coin found in boy's lunchbox worth $2.4 million

The World War II collector's item is "one of the most valuable coins in American history", according to Heritage Auctions.

As rumours swirled about the rare copper coins, it was even reported that auto magnate Henry Ford was offering a free vehicle to anyone who could give him one.

At the time, it was falsely reported that vehicle magnate Henry Ford would give a new auto to anyone who could give him one of these 1943 "copper" pennies. The U.S Mint rejected claims that the 1943 Lincoln copper cents existed.

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A penny that a MA teenager found in his change from lunch money could be worth as much as $1.65 million (£1.3 million) when it is auctioned off. Lutes had reached out to the Ford company about his find, but he was informed the rumor wasn't true.

Lutes knew his coin was rare and held on to it. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc-coated steel".

Don Lutes, Jr. discovered the rare 1943 coin after he received change from his school cafeteria in March of 1947, according to Heritage Auctions. However, a small number of bronze blanks were caught in the Mint's presses and were struck into pennies in the new year. Those planchets went unnoticed when the bins were refilled with zinc-coated steel planchets in 1943, Heritage Auctions said.

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So amongst the millions of "steel" pennies were a tiny number of "copper" cents that managed to quietly enter circulation. When they became dislodged, they were printed and circulated with the millions of steel copies. The few resulting "copper" cents were lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents struck in 1943 and escaped detection by the Mint's quality control measures.

Heritage Auctions now lists Lutes's authentic 1943 Lincoln cent at a whopping $130,000, which jumps to $156,000 with the added Buyer's Premium. But as his health declined previous year, Lutes chose to sell the coin, said Peter Karpenski, a friend and fellow coin collector. Legit prints of the coin have been found from all three active U.S. Mints: 10-15 from the Philadelphia Mint, six from the San Francisco Mint and one from the Denver Mint.

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