Rare Penny Sells For $1.7 Million
"This is the world's most valuable penny. It's the only known example of a 1943-dated Lincoln cent incorrectly struck in a copper alloy at the Denver Mint. Zinc-coated steel was being used for pennies in 1943 to conserve copper for other uses during World War II, and this one was mistakenly struck on a bronze coin disc left over from 1942. It took four years of aggressive negotiations with the coin's owner until he agreed to sell it," said rare coin dealer Laura Sperber, President of Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey who obtained the unique penny for the unnamed collector.
The new owner has been a coin collector since he was a teenager. When he was a kid he thought he had found a 1943 copper penny in circulation but it was not authentic. He is "the only person to ever assemble a complete set of genuine 1943 bronze cents, one each from the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints, and he plans to display them," said Sperber.
Most 1943 pennies are steel-gray in color and not worth much more than face value but less than 20 pennies were accidentally struck in bronze that year at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints, and this is the only known example from the Denver Mint according to Don Willis, President of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, California, the rare coin certification company whose experts authenticated the unique 1943 Denver bronze cent.
The anonymous penny-mad collector also paid $250,000 for a 1944-dated Philadelphia Mint cent mistakenly struck on a zinc-coated steel coin blank intended only for 1943 pennies, and paid $50,000 for an experimental 1942 cent composed mostly of tin. The collector's coins will be publicly displayed at a major rare coin convention in Tampa, Florida, January 6 - 8, 2011.