Now, the penny could sell for over $1 million.
More than seven decades ago, a MA teenager found a 1943 Lincoln penny in his lunch change and he made a decision to hang on to it until his death just a few months ago. Now, some 70 years later, the coin is being auctioned off. and the current highest bid is well over $100,000.
Eventually, Lutes gave up trying to cash in on his coin and it stayed in his collection until his death in September. It was a penny.
Made of copper, the 1943 Lincoln penny is described as the "most famous" coin made in error. During World War II, pennies were supposed to be made with steel because copper was needed for other uses.
"Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens had been struck in 1943", Heritage Auctions added, referring to the US Mint, which produces coinage for the US. "PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at no more than 10-15 examples in all grades".
It was even reported, falsely, that Henry Ford would give a new auto to anyone who provided one of the rare coins to him. Lutes heard this rumor and inquired with Ford Motor Company, but they set the record straight, denying that Ford had many any such promise.
Lutes also got in touch with the Treasury Department about his find.
Those bronze planchets then fed into the coin press, leading to the creation of several coins that were "lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents struck in 1943". "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc-coated steel".
After being dispelled by the Treasury Department, Lutes chose to keep his 1943-branded coin for his personal collection. The online auction ends at 6 p.m. Thursday when a live auction will begin at the Florida United Numismatics convention in Orlando.
Heritage Auctions now lists Lutes's authentic 1943 Lincoln cent at a whopping $130,000, which jumps to $156,000 with the added Buyer's Premium.