In the world of numismatics, the 1943 Copper Penny is known as the “Error Coin Royalty.” And royalty it is, sitting on the throne of the rarest and most valuable coins. If you are interested in the 1943 Copper Penny value, you are in for a treat!

According to a  U.S. Mint press release, there are around forty 1943 Copper Pennies. Struck by accident, the few remaining 1943 Copper Pennies are worth a fortune. A PCGS-certified 1943-D Copper Penny in MS64 condition was sold for an unbelievable $1.7 million. So far, this is the only specimen of its kind from the Denver Mint. However, experts give hope to coin collectors that there are still a few 1943-D Copper Pennies waiting to be discovered. USA Coin Book estimates that the value of such coin in average condition is $451,026 and in uncirculated (MS+) condition between $907,557 and $2,305,706 or more.

Most dealers call the 1943 Copper Penny an error penny. The error occurred when some of the new 1943 steel pennies were struck on a few leftover copper planchets from the previous production in 1942. If you are persistent and lucky enough to find one of the remaining 1943 Copper Pennies, we are here to help you determine its value. Read on, and find out everything there is to know about this precious coin’s history, mintage, features, counterfeits, and valuable varieties.    

History of 1943 Copper Penny

History of 1943 Copper Penny

The 1943 Copper Penny has quite a historical significance! The coin was struck at a crucial time during the Second World War. Copper was valuable for ammunition and military equipment for the American troops in Europe and Japan. Therefore, in 1942 the government decided to change the metal composition of the existing Lincoln Penny. The U.S. Mint then replaced the traditional copper pennies with zinc-coated steel. That decision and the mintage error were responsible for the birth of the 1943 Copper Penny. The mint workers didn’t know that a tiny planchet error would create one of the most unique and rare coins in circulation today.  

The small number of blank copper planchets accidentally left in the production line made all the difference. Instead of 1943 Steel Pennies, a few 1943 Copper Pennies were produced. So, from the majority of steel pennies, only a small number of genuine 1943 Copper Pennies survived. Collectors praise the rarity and historical importance of these pennies. They believe that having the 1943 Copper Penny is like possessing a piece of numismatic history.

Mintage of 1943 Copper Penny

Every factor works in favor of this rare coin increasing its value, and mintage is no exception. Without the mintage error and low quantity of the 1943 Copper Penny, we would not have such an esteemed coin among the Lincoln Wheat Reverse Penny series.       

Struck by mistake on a leftover copper alloy (1 penny blanks) in the hoppers, around forty 1943 Copper Pennies were produced in three U.S. Mints. It is difficult to establish the exact number of copper pennies minted in that particular year because there are samples that have not been discovered yet. Therefore, we are giving you the mintage number of the 1943 Copper Pennies already found and an expert estimation of how many are waiting to be found. To perceive the extreme rarity of the 1943 Copper Penny, we included the entire mintage of the coin in 1943.   

Mint and min mark Total mintage (steel and copper pennies) Discovered 1943 Copper Pennies Total number of 1943 Copper Pennies in existence (experts’ estimation)
Philadelphia (no mint mark) 684,628,670 12 29
Denver (“D” mint mark) 217,660,000 1 3
San Francisco (“S” mint mark) 191,550,000 6 8

As you can see, the mintage quantity makes the 1943 Copper Pennies one of the rarest and most sought-after coins in the world of both coin enthusiasts and professional collectors. If you are looking for the samples with mint marks you will find the “S” mint mark placed below the year, and the “D” mint mark is between numbers 9 and 4. With or without a mintmark, you can consider yourself lucky if you find a sample of the remaining 1943 Copper Pennies. Why? Because they are super valuable either way. So, keep looking in your pocket change or your piggy bank. You might like what you find! 

1943 Copper Penny Features

1943 Copper Penny Value - 1943 Copper Penny Features

  • Series: Lincoln Penny, Wheat Reverse (1909-1958)
  • Mint: Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver
  • Mintage: Approximately 40
  • Obverse Designer: Victor D Brenner
  • Reverse designer: Victor D. Brenner
  • Composition: 95% Copper and 5% Tin and Zinc
  • Weight: 3.11 grams (the weight can reduce due to circulation)
  • Diameter: 19 mm
  • Thickness: 1.55 mm
  • Face Value: 0.01 USD
  • Melt value: $0.0259 (7/26/2023)
  • Edge: Plain (smooth edge)

You have to know every feature of the 1943 Copper Penny to be sure you have the real deal. These features will help you understand its value and avoid buying a fake 1943 Copper Penny. Here is what you should look for on the obverse and reverse sides of the coin:

  • Victor D. Brenner portrayed President Abraham Lincoln wearing a suit and a bow tie on the obverse side. You can also notice these inscriptions: “IN GOD WE TRUST” symbolizing the US citizens’ unity (at the top rim), “LIBERTY” (center left of the coin), and the year mark 1943 (bottom right).
  • The reverse of the 1943 Copper Penny is reserved for the portrayal of two wheat stalks on both sides of the coin. Also, you can read the following writings: “E. PLURIBUS. UNUM” (at the top), “ONE CENT” written with the largest font, and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” (bottom center).

Due to this distinctive design on the obverse and reverse, the coin is also known as the 1943 Lincoln Wheat Penny. Besides the basic features, you should know every other characteristic of the coin. Only then you can be certain of the authenticity of the 1943 Copper Penny.

For example, the number “3” has a unique style different from the old 1923 and 1933 pennies. The lower end of the number “3” is a bit extended and does not have a straight arch like the top end. This new font type was featured in the 1943 Copper Penny for the first time.

However, if you happen to stumble upon a 1943 Copper Penny, you better consult a reputable coin grading service to determine whether you have a genuine sample in your possession. Also, beware of fake samples! Because of their history, rarity, and high value, the 1943 Copper Penny is undeniably one of the most counterfeited U.S. coins.

1943 Copper Penny Counterfeits

It is no surprise that a coin with such a high price tag has counterfeits. Therefore, you must be cautious. Learn the basics in discovering scammers’ attempts trying to sell you 1943 Copper Penny Counterfeits. Here is what you should know:

  • Use a magnet to test whether the 1943 penny is made of copper or steel. If it sticks to the magnet it is fake (made of steel);
  • Check the number “3” on the reverse and look for the unique font used in the 1943 Copper Penny. If the lower of the number is more extended than the upper, it is original. If not, it is probably a 1948 Copper Penny with an altered left side of the number “8” to look like a “3”;
  • Copper pennies weigh more than their steel counterparts (3.11 grams versus 2.70 grams);
  • Some counterfeiters copper-plate normal 1943 steel pennies, while others alter pennies from different periods (1945, 1948, or 1949 copper pennies);
  • The strike is exceptionally sharp in copper pennies (especially around the coin’s rim) because of the copper alloy softness, unlike the one in steel pennies;
  • For further verification, consult numismatic experts. Visit the American Numismatic Associationto locate coin dealers in your area, or use their online form to contact them.

The extreme rarity makes the validation process more difficult. Usually, both coin collectors and treasure hunters have only heard about the famous 1943 Copper Penny or seen it in images. So it is hard for them to know whether they have an original in their hands.

However, if you are familiar with every feature of the 1943 Copper Penny and you consult professionals, you will easily spot a 1943 Copper Penny counterfeit. Now that you know the coin characteristics and the most common counterfeit frauds it is time to “meet” the 1943 Copper Penny varieties and their value. 

1943 Copper Penny Valuable Varieties

Every 1943 Copper Penny variety is super rare and valuable. Still, there is a price difference among the samples that have already been found. The value is affected by the coin’s quantity, condition, and grade. Here is a list of the 1943 Copper Penny valuable varieties:

1943 Copper Penny Value - 1943-D Copper Penny, BN

Grade PCGS population PCGS Price Auction prices
MS64 1 $1,050,000 $840,000 and $212,750

1943 Copper Penny Value - 1943-S Copper Penny, BN (Regular Strike)

Grade PCGS population PCGS Price Guide Auction prices
VF35 / / $141,000 and $207,000
AU53 / / $216,000 (NGC Auction price)
AU55 2 $275,000 $211,500
MS63 1 $1,000,000 $504,000

1943 Copper Penny Value - 1943 Copper Penny, BN (Regular Strike)

Grade PCGS population PCGS Price Guide Auction prices
XF45 1 $215,000 $186,000 and $193,875
AU50 3 $250,000 $240,000 and $336,000
AU53 / / $204,000 (NGC Auction price)
AU55 1 $350,000 $329,000 (PCGS Auction price) and $240,000 (NGC Auction price)
AU58 1 $360,000 $305,500 and $252,000
MS61 2 $385,000 $97,750
MS62 2 $435,000 $348,000 and $372,000

1943 Copper Penny Value - 1943-S Copper Penny Kenneth S. Wing Jr. Collection

Grade PCGS population PCGS Price Auction prices
AU53 / / $228,000 (NGC Auction price)

1943 Copper Penny Value - 1943-S Copper Penny Simpson (Pedigree on Holder PCGS Secure CAC)

Grade PCGS population PCGS Price Auction prices
AU58 1 $350,000 $282,000


Grade PCGS population PCGS Price Auction prices
MS61 2 $385,000 $180,000 (NGC Auction price)

1943 Copper Penny Value - 1943 Copper Penny Albert Michael Pratt (Obverse Die Break)

Grade PCGS population PCGS Price Auction prices
MS62 2 $435,000 $282,000 (NGC Auction price)

If you compare prices you will see that the sale price range of the 1943 Copper Penny is between $97,750 (graded MS61) and $840,000 (graded MS64). Also, you can see that the penny with the highest grade MS64 minted in Denver has the highest estimated value by the PCGS Price guide of $1,050,000. This unique coin was sold for an even higher price becoming the most valuable 1943 Copper Penny.

The Most Valuable 1943 Copper Penny

The most valuable 1943 Copper Penny is minted in Denver and carries the “D” mint mark. So far only one piece of the copper pennies produced in this U.S. Mint has been found.

The story around the most valuable 1943-D Copper Penny is surrounded by speculations and mystery. The story of this unique sample sold for $1.7 million (by Legend Numismatics of Lincroft, New Jersey) begins back in 1943 in the Denver Mint. It is believed that the 1943-D Copper Penny was deliberately made by an employee of the Denver Mint who struck it twice on a copper planchet and kept it until his death. Some even go to further lengths and hold the chief engraver of the U.S. Mint responsible even though he was an engraver in the Philadelphia Mint, not Denver.

Coin collectors were not aware of the 1943-D Copper Penny’s existence until 1979. This is the most valuable penny in the world, and it took four years to persuade the previous owner to sell. This one-of-a-kind coin is now in the possession of a major Southwestern business executive who’s been a coin enthusiast since childhood. He is also the only person to ever collect an entire set of original 1943 Copper Pennies, one each from the three U.S. Mints (Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco).

Before getting into the hands of this businessman who wanted to remain anonymous, the 1943-D Copper Penny was donated to a charitable organization by the previous (also anonymous) collector. In retrospect, this is the coin’s journey from its beginning to the famous sale of $1.7 million:

  • The copper penny was examined, and declared genuine by ANACS in 1979 and then sent to NGC;
  • In 1996 the 1943-D Copper Penny received the MS64BN grade by NGC;
  • Since then, the coin has been certified by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS MS64BN);
  • In 1996 it was auctioned for a price of $82,500;
  • The coin was auctioned again in February 2003 for the second highest price ever paid for a Lincoln Penny, a sum of $212,750;
  • In September 2010, numismatic headlines were filled with information on the new record 7 million dollar sale of the PCGS MS64 BN (Brown) 1943-D Copper Penny;

The most valuable1943 Copper Penny with the “D” mint mark had quite an interesting story and journey. Even though this is the only found specimen, do not give up. According to experts’ estimation, two more were minted in the Denver Mint. Who knows, maybe you will be lucky enough to find at least one of these copper pennies and become a legend in the world of coin collectors. Get yourself a magnifying glass and start checking copper pennies!


This highly collectible coin has captivated numismatists with its rarity, historical value, and uniqueness. Indeed, the 1943 Copper Penny is a constant reminder of wartime circumstances (when copper was much needed) and a mintage error that created one of the most desirable coins among collectors.

Hopefully, this article will help you determine the value of the 1943 Copper Penny in your possession or the one you are trying to purchase. One thing’s for sure the 1943 Copper Penny is undoubtedly one of the most valuable copper pennies out there! So, be on the lookout for valuable copper penny specimens on the market. Or, become the new Sherlock Holmes in the world of coins and start using your magnifying glass while checking pocket change. You may hit the jackpot and find some of the remaining 1943 Copper Pennies. Luck strikes when least expected. Enjoy your search!

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  1. Ronald V. Wong says:

    I have had a 1943 P copper penny in my possession for ten years.

    AU 55 estimated grade.

    I am not a serious coin collector, but I kept this because of personal reasons.

    What should I do to grade and to sell this coin?

  2. Pedro harcia says:

    I have a 1 million worth coinwhere can I sell it can u help me

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