In 1943 the world was at war, and the US needed every bit copper it could get its hands on. After testing materials such as glass, plastic, and ceramics, they decided to make penny out of zinc coated steel. At the time the US mints used large hoppers to feed the presses. However, in a rush to get coins out, the mint did a poor job of inspecting the hoppers when the changeover was made.
In 1947, copper pennies dated 1943 began appearing around the country. The first discovered by Dr. Don Ottelin, a second by 16 year old high school student Don Lutes, Jr.
In 1963, a new coin dealer as a joke copper plated a bag of steel 1943 pennies and spent them all over New York. Nearly all 1943 copper pennies offered for sale are fake.
Real ones will pass the following tests:
- Weighs 3.11 grams
- Same long tailed 3 as the steel pennies
- Incredibly sharp details
Numbers Known of 1943 Copper Pennies
Philadelphia - 40
Denver – 24
San Francisco – 24
In 1944 the mint returned to making copper pennies, and managed to screw it up again by producing a few steel 1944 pennies.