The price of a 1943 steel penny can sell for 10-13 cents per penny in circulated conditions or even a higher price of 50 cents if uncirculated.
When you think of a penny, probably what comes to mind is a shiny copper coin. That’s why when the steel penny was introduced in 1943, it was met with a bit of surprise from the public.
Someone who comes across a 1943 steel penny might think they’ve found something extremely rare. But this is not the case, as the steel penny is more common than you’d expect. But it might still be valuable regardless.
We will cover how much a 1943 steel penny is worth and every other thing you need to know about this coin.
The 1943 Steel Penny
The 1943 steel penny, like other coins made during this period, has historical relevance that was necessary during that time. While the copper-nickel that was made the same year bears the portrait of Thomas Jefferson, the 1943 steel penny has a portrait of Victor David Brenner’s design of president Abraham Lincoln which had been in use since 1909.
In 1942, congress approved a mint penny that would conserve the use of copper, and zinc-coated steel was the material of choice. The 1943 steel penny and the 1943 nickel were created at a time when materials were being rationed for more crucial items, i.e. during World War 2, the US army needed materials like nickel to make casings. So instead of coins made from copper, galvanized steel was used.
This initiative proved to be successful for the US army effort as Steel penny production saved enough copper from manufacturing 1.25 million shells for American big-field guns during the War. Unfortunately, the coin wasn’t met with general acceptance back in the day.
As has been mentioned, most coins were made out of copper. So it was a bit confusing to see a steel penny, which caused many people to mistake it for a dime, causing misunderstandings during transactions (people lost about 9 cents or more).
Others, however, got creative in extracting the steel out of the coin by blasting it until the zinc coating rusted off and the steel core was exposed. This common trend continued until the United States decided to consider the public’s concerns. After just a year of being in circulation, the United States mint resumed using a copper-based composition for the Lincoln penny.
This new enterprise was accomplished by the United States Mint being resourceful about how they got their materials, using copper shell casings gathered from the United States military training facilities.
These new shell case cents comprised 95% copper and 5% zinc. The 1943 Lincoln penny always fought against the trend, as even this new mint was slightly different from other coins at the time. For example, a wheat penny consisted of 95% copper and 5% zinc and tin.
Here’s a fun fact, the 1943 steel penny (during its circulation) is the only coin that a magnet can pick up.
The 1943 steel penny, although it was circulated during wartime, is still classified like every other penny that has ever been in circulation and that is based on mint marks.
A mintmark is basically indicative of where the coin was minted, and that is; Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco. And depending on any of these locations, they’ll bear the letter D and S, respectively. It is important to note that coins from the Philadelphia mints do not carry a mint mark.
All three mints, Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco, were responsible for producing the 1943 steel penny with the unique composition of steel coated with zinc. These three produced over 1,000,000,000 1943 steel pennies during their circulation.
You can find out where they were minted by the alphabet indicated on the coin reverse. The mintmark of the penny can even be a determiner of how valuable your coin might be. If you want to know more about the value of your 1943 steel coin, you should meet a numismatist.
The composition of the steel penny and the circumstances surrounding its production led to it being given the nicknames wartime cent, steelie, zinc cent, and steel war penny.
How Rare is the 1943 Steel Penny?
While most of the coins you might be used to are made of copper or have copper as one of its major constituents. However, that’s not the case with the 1943 steel penny, which has the constituents of 99% steel with a thin zinc casing to make it shiny and prevent it from rusting.
Even though the constituents of the steel penny were uncommon, it’s still not as rare as you might believe. For one thing, it stopped being circulated the following year after its release and to say the time has not looked favourably on the steelie is an understatement.
Protective zinc covering or not, the steel coin is still very susceptible to rust when exposed to moisture especially.
What’s more, it’s quite easy to fall prey to an unscrupulous dealer who might sell you a coin refurbished with zinc. Although these coins have once again had their shine and lustre restored, they are still considered damaged coins and are of no value as they have lost their original mint quality. However, it is quite easy to spot them upon closer inspection.
If you’re lucky, you might meet someone who had kept one of the original coins all this while because of its interesting constituents. But it’s still not as valuable as you might imagine except in mint condition.
On the other hand, non-error steelies or 1943 steel pennies in fine condition are collected for the sake of novelty.
1943 Steel Penny Value
The 1943 steel penny came as a bit of a surprise to many due to its shiny silver-ish appearance at a time when copper pennies were the norm. Still, they were mass produced and were almost minted in billions.
However, they only circulated for a year as production stopped one year after. Regardless of how short-lived they were, they’re not entirely rare and unfortunately, they’re not worth much.
Some of the 1943 steel pennies have sold at over $1000, but those were either extremely rare or of a very high grade. A corroded or worn-out-looking steel penny might not fetch you much, but if you really want to get it off your hands, all you need to do is either sell it online or at your local pawn shop.
Factors that influence the 1943 Steel Penny Value
There aren’t that many factors that influence a coin’s value. And in the case of the 1943 steel penny, there’s no exception.
Here are some of the factors that might either make your 1943 steel penny extremely valuable or worthless:
The condition of your penny is one of the most important factors determining what your coin might go for. That’s why coins are usually graded.
There are five general categories for which a coin might be graded; poor (which is the lowest and it indicates that a coin has lost most of its unique features and it’s flat and smooth across its surface, and it might even be unrecognizable ), good (good coins are quite marketable, but they’ve still obviously been in circulation with signs of wear starting to show), fine, very fine, and the best condition a coin can be in mint state.
The rarity of the mint is another factor that plays a vital role in a coin’s value.
Some mints are rarer than others, probably because that particular mint didn’t produce as many coins as the other mints. It might be very valuable when you come across a coin with that unique mint mark.
But in the case of the 1943 steel penny, there were no major discrepancies in production across all three mints. Although the Philadelphia mint did produce the highest number of coins in 1943, making coins from this mint have even lesser value.
Some other factors might influence how valuable the steel penny is, and one of those is if the coin has been tampered with.
For example, the steelie was prone to age and rust because of the constituents. As a result, to get more value for the coin, some dealers might decide to recoat it with zinc to give it back its original shine.
Although this might make the coin look good as new, it still doesn’t change the fact that the coin has been tampered with, and as a result, it’s now worthless.
Another factor is the presence or absence of defects. Now, this might be a bit fickle as some collectors don’t mind paying a fairly good price for a coin with a noticeable defect, but this might not be the case.
1943-D Steel Penny Value
The 1943 D steel penny was minted in Denver. This mint produced over 200,000,000 coins in 1943. These coins bear the D mint mark, and they are very common. But that notwithstanding, many collectors want them included in their collections, and since they’re not entirely expensive to get, it’s easy for you to get your hands on them.
However, a 1943 D steel penny in uncirculated condition can cost up to $3000.
|1943 D Steel Penny (MS 65)||$20.50|
|1943 D Steel Penny (MS 66)||$53|
|1943 D Steel Penny (MS 67)||$150|
|1943 D Steel Penny (MS 68)||$1,478|
1943 Steel Penny No Mint Mark Value
Mintmarks normally are used to indicate the place where a coin was minted. But some don’t have a mint mark.
Coins that have no mint mark were produced in Philadelphia. And Philadelphia coins were fifth place in largest production than any other coin. It produced over 600,000,000 pennies in 1943.
This is the reason why they are of little value, as they are abundant in circulation. Not to mention how difficult it is to find one in mint condition.
|1943 Steel Penny (MS 65)||$12.50|
|1943 Steel Penny (MS 66)||$26|
|1943 Steel Penny (MS 67)||$182|
1943-S Steel Penny Value
With over 190,000,000 struck steel pennies, coins from the San Francisco mint are also common. Even though they don’t fetch much, there is always the possibility of selling at higher prices compared to the other mints.
|1943 S Steel Penny (MS 64)||$22|
|1943 S Steel Penny (MS 65)||$36|
|1943 S Steel Penny (MS 66)||$34|
|1943 S Steel Penny (MS 66) – Die Crack||$104.99|
|1943 S Steel Penny (MS 67)||$136|
Where to Sell Your 1943 Steel Penny
There are various places you can sell your steel penny. Uncommon or not, a seasoned collector will be eager to pay you for your coin. The price you can fetch on your coin depends on its condition and the platform you use to sell it.
Available options include online auctions on platforms like eBay and Heritage Auctions, where collectors can bid for your coin, allowing you to decide on the person with the highest bid and also your local pawn shops.
Online auctions are the most profitable and expose you to buyers worldwide, but your local pawn shop might be sufficient for ease.
The war made the United States test itself on how resourceful they truly are; as a result, the Wartime pennies are some of the most fascinating pennies ever to be produced in the United States.
The 1943 steel penny was mass-produced to help save copper(the original material of choice for coin production) for the military. But for technical reasons and also confusion (as it was rather difficult to differentiate it from a silver penny), production for this coin stopped almost immediately.
Regardless of its history, the 1943 steel penny is still a worthy addition to any collection.