Friday, May 06, 2011

The 1943 steel penny

Since the last article I wrote was about the size of the penny. I thought it would be of interest to share with you the only penny ever made, that was not made of copper. This penny was produced in 1943, and it was completely made of steel, and coated with zinc. The penny here is a uncirculated one from that time, but even still, not a rarity. But is it unusual, you bet your life. At the height of World War Two the United States found itself in a short supply of copper. Copper was used in shell casings and many other very much needed items. So it was planned to use steel for the penny. This brought out a host of problems. First since the pennies were steel they would rust from sweat and being touched. Secondly, when new they were very shiny and were confused for dimes (10 cents).
Therefore after 1943, pennies were made from used shell casings and what ever else was available and 1943 would be the only year a coin was produced by the United States Government that did not contain any copper at all. I recall as kid still seeing them in circulation, however now that seems to have ended and they are horded by those who are waiting for them to attain great value. If they ever do, it will be long after this and the next generation have long since passed from the scene. But still as a novelty, or unique coin they have few equals. A memento one may say of a time when the United states was deeply and fervently at war and copper was not to be had.