There are eight avidly collected issues of steel cents–1943, 1943 Experimental Planchet, 1943 Bronze, 1943-D, 1943 D/D, 1943-D Bronze, 1943-S and 1943-S Bronze–but only five are affordable. Chances are you have a copy of any 1943 cent that looks like copper or bronze.
During World War II, the United States needed copper and so switched the composition of the cent to zinc-coated steel.
The lots above, described as proofs, probably are re-plated with zinc, which also can appear to be double die because of the additional overlay.There are no proof steel cents. Zinc is a bluish silver metal. That’s why the telltale “rainbow” appears on re-plated coins.
If a consignor brings you a 1943 cent that appears to be copper, use a magnet. Your fake will be attracted to it. If not, you probably have a 1948 cent with the 8 cut in half to resemble a 3.
There is only one complete 1943-era set. You can read about that here.
Yes, it is true that miraculous finds may still be in the public domain. The question you as an auctioneer have to ask is, “Am I really that lucky?”
When in doubt, have a trusted numismatist describe the coin for you before you stretch the truth by guessing.
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