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He Was Just A High School Student When He Found A Rare $1 Million Dollar Penny In His Lunch Money

Evan Meyer - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

Back in 1947, Don Lutes Jr. was a 16-year-old high school student from Pittsfield, Massachusetts. One day, he found a rare 1943 copper penny in his lunch money.

He held on to the coin for over seven decades, even after federal officials initially declared that it had no special value. Now, the penny could sell for more than $1 million.

After Lutes’ death, the coin went up for sale with Heritage Auctions in 2019. In 2010, a similar penny created with a bronze planchet fetched $1.7 million.

“This is the most famous error coin in American numismatics, and that’s what makes this so exciting: No one really knows what it’s going to sell for,” Sarah Miller, the senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, said.

During the 1940s, copper was needed to make bullets, wire, and other tools for World War II. Starting in 1943, pennies were made of zinc-coated steel to preserve copper.

However, the U.S. Mint made an error, and a small handful of copper pennies made it into circulation by accident.

The copper pennies mixed with the large amounts of zinc-coated pennies, and people across the country scrambled to get their hands on one of the rare coins.

At the time, it was rumored that Henry Ford would give away a new car in exchange for one of the copper pennies. The report proved to be false.

According to the auction house’s website, the Mint denied the existence of the 1943 copper pennies. When Lutes reached out to the U.S. Treasury Department about his find, he was told that there were no copper pennies from 1943 and that all pennies made during that year were of zinc-coated steel.

Evan Meyer – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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