Insights

1943-S Jefferson nickel struck on steel cent planchet an affordable off-metal error of World War II era

Portion of Market Analysis column from July 21, 2014, issue of Coin World
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By , Coin World
Published : 07/08/14
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The following post is pulled from Coin World editor Steve Roach’s Market Analysis column in the July 21 issue.

Many collectors love striking and planchet error coins because each one is unique and they are dramatic examples of what happens when things go wrong in coin production. These are pieces whose errors are the result of problems occurring during the striking phase.

Error coins are graded on the same scale as “normal” U.S. coins, and their pricing structure is based on quality, rarity, and demand, as is the case with all collectibles. 

Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ auctions associated with the Baltimore Expo, held at the Baltimore Convention Center June 26 to 29, carried many of the rarities normally associated with a major auction. It also had a few spectacular error coins.

Here is one of three that caught my eye:

The coin: 1943-S Jefferson 5-cent piece struck on a steel cent planchet, Uncirculated Details, Cleaned

The price: $646.25

The story: The U.S. Mint experimented with new compositions for World War II. Perhaps the most widely-known example today is the 1943 Lincoln zinc-coated steel cent that was struck only in that year as a way to conserve copper for the war effort.

1943 Lincoln cents struck on copper planchets are legendary rarities in American numismatics, and 1944 Lincoln cents struck on zinc-plated steel planchets are also very valuable. Branching out to other off-metal errors of the World War II era provides affordable alternatives. 

This 1943-S Jefferson 5-cent coin struck on a zinc-coated steel cent planchet intended for a 1943 cent brought $646.25. The piece is graded by PCGS as Uncirculated Details, Cleaned, and the lot description notes that the cleaning “seems to have been done in an effort to remove coppery surface scale that is still evident over the lower right obverse, as commonly seen on the regular issue 1943 Steel cent coins today.” 

The edges are distended as is typical for Jefferson 5-cent coins struck on cent planchets since, at 19 millimeters, a cent planchet is 2.1 millimeters smaller than a 5-cent planchet.

Read the rest of Steve Roach's Market Analysis:

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