US Coins

Weinberg sells 8-foot section of steel cent webbing

When was the last time you saw, in private hands, an 8-foot-long section of webbing that resulted from blanks having been punched from zinc-coated steel coinage strip (for ultimate production into 1943-D Lincoln cents)?

For most collectors, the answer is probably never.

At the Aug. 1 to 5 American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Denver, error coin dealer Fred Weinberg purchased the webbing from a building contractor. According to Weinberg, it is the sole surviving example in private hands of webbing obtained by the contractor, who had used some other pieces of the webbing in the reinforcement of walls erected in a Denver-area home three decades ago.

Two much smaller pieces were sent, at the time of the home’s construction, to the ANA and the Smithsonian Institution.

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Weinberg, who operates Fred Weinberg & Co., said the webbing sold for more than $1,000 to David J. Camire, an error coin specialist and grading finalizer for Numismatic Guaranty Corp.

The webbing, less than a foot wide, was folded when presented for sale to Weinberg at his bourse table.

The webbing is what was left after coinage strip was fed through a blanking press. A blanking press punches out rough-edged blanks from strip. Blanks’ edges are deburred before annealing to soften the blanks, and then sent through an upset mill to form a raised rim before being struck between dies on a coinage press.

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Today, ready-to-strike copper-plated zinc planchets are supplied to the U.S. Mint by an outside vendor, Jarden Zinc Products.

For all other denominations where the U.S. Mint punches blanks from coinage strip provided by an outside vendor, the webbing is chopped into small pieces while exiting the blanking press and deposited into a hopper for later metal reclamation.

A telling story

Weinberg said the tale of the zinc-coated steel webbing is an unusual one. Weinberg related the following via email:

“The gentleman who came up to me at the show said he was a contractor, and one day (over 30 years ago), someone drove into his ‘work yard’ in a truck with a large amount of these long (8 feet) punched planchet strips from the 1943 Steel Cents.

“The guy just wanted to dump them, and thought the contractor could use them. The contractor couldn’t really figure out a use, but then decided to use the strips inside the walls of a house he was building in the Denver area. They were put in the walls, and then plastered over.

“He was left with one long strip (the one I bought) and a shorter strip, about 2 feet long (my guess). He cut the smaller strip into two pieces, and sent one to the ANA as a donation, and the other piece to the Smithsonian in Washington,” also 30 years ago.

“A few weeks later, he was contacted by Denver Mint Police who said they were contacted by the Smithsonian about his donation, and said he wasn’t allowed to have them.

“He told them the ‘House Story’ and the two agents who came to his work yard made him take them to the house he had built.

“He drove them there, showed them the house, and said that behind the walls were the planchet strips. The two agents apparently realized there was no ‘threat’, nor any way to recover decades-old steel that had been plastered over and on.

“He returned the next day with the 8-foot strip, and I bought it.” 

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