US Coins

1943 bronze Lincoln cent sells for over one million

The only certified red example of a 1943 Lincoln bronze cent was never previously offered for sale but has reportedly just been purchased by an East Coast collector for a price in excess of $1 million.

The coin, purchased by private treaty in 2018, is graded Mint State 63 Red by Professional Coin Grading Service and stickered by Certified Acceptance Corp. with a green label as being superior for the grade.

One of roughly 15 examples known of the wrong planchet error, the coin is now the third example of the error now held in what is being called The Dazzling Red Collection.

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The same collector bought a Numismatic Guaranty Corp. MS-63 brown example, also CAC stickered, in Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night session held in August 2017 in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Denver. The coin realized $282,000 in the auction.

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The first one of the three purchased for the unnamed collector’s Dazzling Red Collection is an NGC About Uncirculated 50 brown piece, secured by private treaty.

The collector was represented in the 2017 auction and the 2018 private sale by Bob Paul Rare Coins from Philadelphia.

The collector, who asked not to be identified, and Paul indicated plans are being made to display the MS-63 red 1943 Lincoln bronze cent as part of an extended exhibit at the ANA’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and it will also be exhibited at the 2018 ANA World’s Fair of Money in Philadelphia.

The wrong planchet error was created when leftover planchets from 1942 production became mixed in with the intended zinc-coated steel cent planchets in 1943 and were struck. Fifteen or more examples are believed extant from Philadelphia Mint production struck on planchets of the 1942 95 percent copper composition. A single example is known of a 1943-D Lincoln bronze cent struck at the Denver Mint and seven 1943-S bronze cents are known from the San Francisco Mint.

Paul said acquisition of the PCGS MS-63 Red bronze 1943 cent for The Dazzling Red Collection was something of a fluke.

Paul was representing the collection’s owner in the purchase of a steel 1944 Lincoln steel cent error, when the subject of the MS-63 red 1943 coin was broached. A purchase price was negotiated and the deal sealed.

The owner of The Dazzling Red Collection said he is a Baby Boomer who began collecting coins in his youth, but when his capital expanded in finance and real estate, so did his appetite in the 1990s for “investment-quality” coins. The collector said his collection incorporates coins from 1792 through 1970. The collector said he is an aficionado of World War II history and noted that both his father and uncle were World War II veterans. The time period was one of rationing commodities because of the war, and the rationing included diverting copper for use in munitions production rather than coins.

The collector says he believes the wrong planchet error cents are extremely undervalued.

The collector said one of the main reasons for buying the coin was for others to see it and share the history that went into its production.

Paul said PCGS experts spent a month authenticating the MS-63 red coin before confirming it as genuine. Paul said he was approached by another dealer at the recent Florida United Numismatists convention in Tampa soon after an announcement was made of the sale and asked if the coin was available. However, the collector who bought it has no plans to part with it anytime soon, Paul said. 

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