Rare penny from school lunch change up for auction

A man's rare penny he kept for decades could be worth over $1 million

A man's rare penny he kept for decades could be worth over $1 million

Now, some 70 years later, the coin is being auctioned off. and the current highest bid is well over $100,000. The young coin collector chose to keep the cent in his collection for more than 70 years, until he died in September.

Back in 1947, a 16-year-old MA teenager, Don Lutes Jr, held out his hand at the school cafeteria for change after paying for his meal.

The Mint initially denied Lutes' claim that he had a 1943 copper Lincoln penny when he first notified notified the US Treasury about his findings. He also contacted the Treasury Department about his find but the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens had been struck in 1943. Heritage believes it could sell for $170,000 or more at auction in Orlando.

A rare coin a teen received from his school cafeteria could fetch well over $1 million at auction.

In 1943, during World War II, pennies were supposed to be made of steel because copper was needed for other uses.

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"This is the most famous error coin in American numismatics, and that's what makes this so exciting", Miller told Fox News.

So, Lutes stopped marketing the coin, and added it to his personal collection where it has remained until now.

But a handful of the coins were mistakenly pressed with copper and Don Lutes Jr. discovered one of them in his change from his MA high school lunch in the forties. Those planchets went unnoticed when the bins were refilled with zinc-coated steel planchets in 1943, Heritage Auctions said. Buoyed by the Henry Ford rumor, he contacted the vehicle firm, but they informed him it was false.

"They eventually became dislodged and were fed into the coin press, along with the wartime steel blanks".

A similar penny sold was sold by a New Jersey dealer for $1.7 million in back in 2010, UPI reported at the time. Legit prints of the coin have been found from all three active U.S. Mints: 10-15 from the Philadelphia Mint, six from the San Francisco Mint and one from the Denver Mint. However, an accident at the U.S. Mint led to the creation of just a handful of copper pennies, which mixed in with the flood of zinc-coated steel coins being sent out.

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