MIAMI – A one-cent US coin that was minted in bronze by mistake in 1943 sold for more than $200,000 at an auction in Florida, the auction house said on Friday.
Heritage Auctions said that no more than 15 penny coins from the period were minted in copper instead of zinc-coated steel, which was being used during World War II because copper – a component of bronze – was reserved for munitions.
The 1943 bronze penny “is the most famous error coin in American numismatics” and the first of its kind to be put up for auction, Heritage said in a statement.
The story of the bronze penny goes back to 1947, when Don Lutes Jr., then a high school student in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, discovered the coin in the change he received from his school cafeteria.
Being a coin collector, Lutes was immediately aware of its unusual nature and he decided to keep it.
Lutes, who died in September, mandated that the auction proceeds be donated to the Berkshire Athenaeum at the public library in Pittsfield.