What is a Silver Penny? Value of a 1943 Steel Penny

1943 produced a couple of extremely valuable confused coins. One of the most unusual coins produced by the United States Mint is the “Silver Coin of 1943.” Most people believe that all coins produced by the United States Mint are made of copper.

Therefore, when someone finds one of these silver coins in their pocket, they believe they have encountered a rarity. But, although they are not common, they are hardly rare. Read more at the article below

What is a Silver Penny?

A 1943 silver penny is a kind of one-cent coin struck in the United States. Instead of silver, silver pennies were composed of steel with a thin zinc coating. For a collector’s item, these coins are rather common and readily available in coin shops, however it is uncommon to stumble into a silver penny in circulation.

The 1943 silver penny was struck in steel as opposed to the more common copper. During World War II, there was a greater need to allocate all available copper to the military. Copper was required by the military for use in munitions and other wartime purposes; the silver penny was part of a scheme to save copper for the war effort.

What is a Silver Penny?

Despite the patriotic impulse for this reform, unanticipated complications resulted. Due to its high iron content, steel oxidized even more rapidly than copper. Rust also developed around the coin’s edges, accelerating its deterioration.

Due to their smaller weight and lighter color compared to copper pennies, fresh silver pennies were readily mistaken for dimes while giving or receiving change.

The public outrage that came from these difficulties prompted the United States Mint to discontinue manufacturing of the silver penny after just one year, although a few 1944 silver pennies were produced before the changeover was completed.

Large quantities of 1943 pennies were gathered and destroyed by the mints, making those that have survived somewhat valuable. A 1943 silver penny in circulated form is worth between $0.12 to $0.15 U.S. Dollars (USD), whereas a brand-new, uncirculated example is valued at approximately $0.50 USD.

The few 1944 silver pennies that were struck are often believed to have been coined in error; in any event, they are considerably rarer than the 1943 type and can command a slightly higher price. Due to another miscalculation of a similar nature, some 1943 pennies were constructed of copper rather than steel.

Similar to the 1944 silver penny, the 1943 copper penny is exceedingly uncommon, with fewer than 50 minted and just a dozen known to exist. In 2004, one of these coins in brand-new condition sold at auction for more than $200,000 USD.

In light of these pricing, several counterfeit 1943 steel pennies have been manufactured by coating them with copper. Occasionally, this was done to create novelty products rather than as an effort at fraud. In any case, it is simple to distinguish a copper penny from a copper-plated steel one: steel is magnetic, but copper is not.

The War Effort and Metals

The 1943 silver-colored cent is a zinc-coated steel coin issued during World War II. During World War II, the production of shell casings and explosives required a significant amount of copper. In 1943, the United States Mint coated steel with zinc in order to conserve copper for the war effort, hence the majority of 1943 pennies are silver in color.

Not only was metal a crucial item for the war effort, but so were many other commodities. The residents of the United States were urged to save foods such as sugar, pork, cooking oil, and canned goods.

What is a Silver Penny?

Using government-issued coupon booklets, the government rationed essential products to American residents. fuel was the most necessary commodity.

The Rare 1943 Penny

If your 1943 cent is made of copper, it is worth a significant amount of money, typically $10,000 or more. The reason for this is that the 1943 copper penny is a flawed coin. When striking the coin, the United States Mint utilized the incorrect planchet metal. But a negligible number of them departed the United States Mint facilities.

These coins were produced in mistake. Some unused copper planchets from the previous year were lodged in the edges of the huge bins used to transport blank planchets throughout the mint. When they were dislodged, they were combined with zinc-plated steel planchets and ran through the coining presses.

Numerous counterfeit 1943 copper coins are now in circulation. Some are copper-dipped or copper-plated steel pennies that were meant as novelty products. Others are forgeries in which the 8 has been chopped in half on a genuine 1948 copper penny to make it appear like a 3.

In addition, counterfeiters in different nations have produced counterfeits with incredibly convincing appearances. Even seasoned coin traders might be fooled by the craftsmanship of these counterfeit coins. Therefore, be on the watch for these counterfeit coins before spending money to acquire them. Thankfully, there are simple ways to evaluate whether or not your 1943 copper penny is authentic.

The “Silver Penny” Is Not Rare

The United States prepared for war in Europe and the Pacific in 1943. Copper is a crucial component in the production of ammunition. Congress authorized the United States Mint to begin producing pennies from steel with a thin coating of zinc in order to conserve copper for the war effort.

This rendered the penny silver instead of its usual orange-brown copper hue. Is your 1943 cent uncommon? The answer depends on the composition of the penny issued in 1943. If a penny is silver in color, it is constructed of steel with a zinc coating to improve its appearance and prevent corrosion.

People tended to keep them when they were initially issued since they were uncommon, therefore they are now rather common in pristine form. Sadly, a typical 1943 steel coin is only worth a few cents.

As the 1943 steel pennies circulated, the zinc coating began to become almost black and dark gray. If it was in circulation long enough, the zinc covering would entirely corrode away, revealing the underlying steel.

What is a Silver Penny?

The penny would begin to corrode upon exposure to dampness. Unscrupulous coin dealers have been re-plating steel pennies with zinc in an attempt to “revive” some of the coins’ original brilliance. Even though these pennies have a dazzling sheen, they are deemed damaged and are worthless.

What to Do If You Think You Have One

If you have done the above-mentioned test and are convinced that your 1943 Lincoln cent is the rare copper variant, you must get it certified by an expert. Ultimately, you must get it validated and encased by a third-party grading service.

Having your coin verified might unfortunately cost between thirty and fifty dollars. Before sending your coin to a third-party grading agency only to have it returned as an altered or counterfeit coin, you should consider the following:

Bring your coin to a local coin dealer and have him examine it. Most seasoned coin dealers have seen enough counterfeit and altered coins to distinguish between the two. Before you spend money having it validated by a third-party grading agency, they will be able to provide you with an informed assessment.

Take your coin to a local coin exhibition and have a number of dealers evaluate it for you. Do not release it to your site or allow it to be taken to the “backroom,” where you will lose track of it. Unfortunately, some dishonest coin sellers will attempt to substitute an altered or counterfeit coin for your legitimate one.

What is a Silver Penny?

If the majority of dealers believe that the item is legitimate, you should send it to a third-party grading agency. Don’t squander your money on certification and authentication if the majority of experts believe the coin is changed or counterfeit.

A Flawed Manufacturing Process by the U.S. Mint

In order to aid the war effort by removing copper from U.S. pennies, the United States Mint devised a new composition for the one-cent coin. They opted to utilize steel as the foundation material and zinc plating. Unfortunately, zinc oxidizes and develops a drab and dark gray tint with time.

As coins traveled throughout trade, they came in touch with moisture. The zinc coating became a dreadful blackish hue due to the dampness. As the zinc coating on the steel core wore away, the exposed steel began to rust.

In addition, the manufacturing procedure for the planchets was defective. Workers at the mint first rolled a sheet of steel to the correct thickness. The steel sheet was then zinc-plated and run through a blanking press.

The blanking press was used to create coin blanks. The production procedure revealed bare steel on the edge of the coin. As moisture attacked the coin’s edge, it would rust independent of the state of the coin’s surface.

The public also rejected this new currency. Some individuals mistaken it for a dime, which is about the same size. As the coin began to circulate, it would oxidize and develop rusty edges. This resulted in issues with people’s clothes rusting.

Valuable 1943 and 1944 Pennies

1943 produced a few extremely valuable mistake coins. Since the mint produces billions of coins every year, they transport them using giant totes. As the totes traveled from machine to machine, a blank from the previous batch would occasionally become lodged in a fissure. The majority of numismatists believe that a few 1942 copper planchets were caught in a tote gap. The date 1943 was stamped on the copper planchets using the coining press. Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco all manufactured these incredibly rare copper 1943 coins.

In 1944, the mint returned to producing coins from copper. Again, the totes had a handful of zinc-coated steel planchets lodged in the cracks. The 1944 pennies were then struck on zinc-coated steel planchets instead of bronze planchets.

These mistakes are exceedingly unusual, but if you believe you have a 1943 copper cent or a 1944 steel penny, here’s how to determine whether or not your 1943 copper penny is authentic.

It might be one of the most expensive pennies in history!

Why Do Some Pennies Look Silver?

There are several reasons a penny could seem silver.

The occurrence of silver pennies might result from:

  • A mistake at the U.S. Mint
  • Silver, pewter, or mercury plating
  • A typical scientific experiment

Obviously, identifying what may have caused your penny to seem silver involves some investigating.

You’ll need a reliable coin scale to determine what’s going on with your penny, since any of the aforementioned issues might be to blame. (Any scale capable of measuring objects by the gram or fraction of a gram can be used.)

What is a Silver Penny?

How To Determine If Your Penny Is Silver Due To A Mint Error

I have four samples to provide.

The majority of these U.S. Mint blunders have resulted in collector-desirable rare coins!

#1 – The most valuable circumstance for your coin would be if it was struck on the wrong planchet (or coin blank) at the U.S Mint.

Such is the situation with 1944 steel cents, as stated before in this piece.

On the zinc-coated steel planchets used for the famous 1943 steel cent, about 35 1944 pennies were struck.

  • Steel pennies can stick to a magnet.
  • Additionally, steel pennies weigh less than their copper counterparts, 2.70 grams compared to 3.11 grams.

Steel pennies are far more valuable:

  • A 1944 steel cent may get up to $75,000 at auction
  • Whereas a normal 1944 copper Lincoln cent is valued between 5 and 10 cents.

#2 – A second reason some pennies look silver is because they were struck on dime planchets at the U.S. Mint.

Even while these sorts of faults are not as rare or precious as the 1944 steel penny, they are nevertheless rather uncommon and highly coveted by coin collectors, particularly those who value error coins.

Identifying a planchet mistake on a coin or a dime is pretty simple.

  • First, a portion of the design (usually the rim) would be removed, as a dime planchet is smaller than a penny planchet.
  • Furthermore, the currency would be lighter. Before 1965, silver dime planchets weighed 2.5 grams, whereas planchets coated with copper-nickel weighed 2.27 grams.

If you believe you own such a piece, you will need to get it validated by a third-party coin grading business, as such pieces are valued at $300 or more.

#3 – A third U.S. Mint error that has caused some pennies made since the 1980s to appear silver is faulty copper plating:

  • Occasionally, the copper plating on zinc-based Lincoln cents (made after 1982) is not completely defined.
  • In other instances, the plating is entirely absent.These mistake cents are worth at least $50.

    Modern zinc-based pennies that resemble silver should be analyzed carefully, as some of these coins have had their copper plating chemically stripped after leaving the Mint. Only a company specializing in coin authenticity or a metallurgist can tell whether a coin has been chemically changed.

#4 – A fourth U.S. Mint-derived cause of silver pennies has to do with pattern coins.

In an effort to reduce production costs, the U.S. Mint has experimented with striking pennies from different metals over the years. (Today, it costs the government roughly two cents to produce one coin.)

In 1973, the U.S. Mint began striking over 1.5 million 1974-dated aluminum pennies as part of an experiment.

These aluminum Lincoln pennies from 1974 were brilliantly silver and weighed less than one gram each.

Although several were sent to government officials, the currency failed to acquire popularity. Multiple groups opposed the coin, including doctors who were afraid that the coin’s aluminum content would not be detected by x-ray devices. Concerned that the coin might result in mechanical problems in vending machines, the vending industry sneered at the coin.

What is a Silver Penny?

Despite the fact that the U.S. government subsequently recalled all aluminum pennies from 1974, a dozen are still missing. All are federal property and vulnerable to confiscation by the United States Secret Service.

How To Determine If Your Penny Looks Silver Due To Some Other Reason

What may you have if your silver penny is not a steel penny, a penny on dime planchet error, a U.S. Mint style coin, or a copper plating fault?

Almost certainly, your penny has been plated with silver, pewter, or mercury.

Numerous U.S. pennies have had their look changed by the addition of silver-colored (and gold-colored) metals.

Whether as a science experiment in school or for the sake of novelty, plating pennies has long been a popular activity, especially among those who have no numismatic interest in coins and are unaware that plating coins is considered post-mint damage (or PMD), which can actually decrease a coin’s value.

By weighing a coin, you can determine if it has been plated.

  • If your penny was produced after 1982 and weighs more than 2.5 grams, it was probably plated.
  • With the exception of certain mid-19th-century one-cent coins, pre-1982 pennies should not weigh more than 3.11 grams.

Always treat plated pennies with caution, since there is a high probability that they were plated with mercury – a dangerous substance that may be absorbed through the skin and cause neurological problems.


In general, the 1943 Silver Pennies were one of the most odd pennies issued by the United States Mint. The majority of people assume that all United States Mint pennies are made of copper.

Therefore, when a person discovers one of these silver pennies in their pocket change, they assume they have stumbled upon an extremely rare object. However, while they are unusual, they are not quite rare.


The value of a lightly circulated 1943 steel penny ranges from 20 cents to 50 cents. The uncirculated 1943 steel penny’s worth is generally in the neighborhood of $1.50 to $5. Some well-preserved uncirculated 1943 steel pennies with pristine surfaces are worth more than $100.
The “Silver Penny” Is Not Rare

To save copper for the war effort, the United States Mint began making pennies from steel with a thin coating of zinc under the authority of Congress. This gave the penny a silver color instead of the normal orange/brown copper color.

The best way to determine if your coins are silver is to view the edge of the coin. If the coin has a solid silver stripe, then you can feel confident that it’s silver. If you can see a copper stripe, then the coin is clad.
The copper was supposed to be saved for the war effort during World War II, but a chance mistake resulted in a few pennies being struck in copper. Only about 10-15 of these collectible coins still exist, making the 1943 copper penny one of the most valuable old pennies in existence.
5/5 - (1 vote)
Pat Moriarty
Follow me

Leave a Comment