Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Many pennies

My mother's husband, Don, had amassed a modest coin collection by the time he died. I and my husband were in the process of trying to determine valuation of the coins (mostly melt value) when we opened a box containing silver coins from the former half of the 20th c, a handful of 'silver' dollars and 4 small jars each full of wheat pennies. We asked my mom about the penny jars (as in why did Don have them) and she said that they had actually belonged to Don's father. 

We didn't think we had any earth-shatteringly rare pennies among the collection, but decided to hop on the internet to see what rarities might be out there in the US penny world. Using the search term 'valuable pennies' actually yielded an interesting result. We had known that during WWII, copper was commandeered for the making of munitions. Thus pennies minted in 1943 were made of steel. These steel pennies are not rare, but they are magnetic, so that's kind of fun. If one has a copper penny minted in 1943, well that was an anomaly, and it could be worth thousands of dollars, or so says Mr. Internet. Finding such a penny would be like finding a needle in a haystack, but we decided to check the mint mark and year on EACH one nonetheless. We did not strike gold, or rather copper--no surprise--but we did find about ten steel '43 pennies amongst the haul. Two were an interesting copper-like color and that had us thrown for a minute. Did we actually have something valuable on our hands? No. There were steel pennies minted in '43 that were then altered by forgers to appear as if they were copper, so I suppose that's what we might have. They are magnetic, so that's the tell-tale sign regardless of the pennies' appearance. 


Fairly pristine steel '43 penny.

Wheat pennies galore.

Groovy, old jam jars used to hold the coins.





21 comments:

  1. Interesting! I did not know that about steel WW2 pennies -- I wonder if Canada did the same? And I have no idea what American "wheat pennies" are but too bad they're not worth a mint!

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    1. US pennies minted between 1909 and 1958 show two ears of wheat on the 'tail side', hence the name. I can totally imagine CA did the same as us here down south. May the UK did as well...?

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  2. Interesting about the steel pennies in the year of my birth.

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  3. Wheat pennies (and your explanation) is such an interesting name.
    Love that jar lid too...

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    1. Me, too. LOVE the jar lid and jar as well.

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  4. We have my dad's collection of old British silver coins, which prior to certain dates had higher silver content. There are also pennies with mint marks next to the date, i.e. they were made elsewhere from the Royal Mint. We could get a few pounds for them, not a lot, but I don't really want to part with something my dad collected.

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    1. That's really cool that you've coins not minted at the Royal Mint. I've a small coin collection of my own consisting of a few silver US coins. 25 cent pieces were made of some percentage of silver until the year 1965. I'd still find one or two in my change as late as 20 years ago.

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  5. I never collected pennies but I got a lot of them: 1. foreign coins left from travels 2. local coins, not used to buy things.
    I'll have to decide what I do about them.

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    1. Yeah, I've coins from abroad as well. I like to look at them from time to time.

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  6. Sounds like you've been having some fun with the collection. Are you planning to sell off portions of it, or do you plan to hold on to it?

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    1. It's fun and a bit taxing to try to ascertain monetary value of so many dang coins. My mom could really use the money, so we will figure out how to sell it (bit by bit) in order to reap some sort of reward.

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  7. Being a "war baby", I grew up with those coins, steel pennies and wheat pennies. I became the holder of my parents' small coin collection in blue folders, with the appropriate dime inserted in each slot. Then cellophane held down each row, to prevent the dimes falling. It also ruined any value the coins had, as the sticky adhered to each coin and a small chemical deterioration also takes place.

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    1. Oh, yeah. You absolutely know what I'm talking about with these coins! Sorry to read that your parents' collection did not withstand the cellophane. :(

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  8. What a collection! Now that you've handled every single coin and have forged a relationship of sorts with each, will you still bid them adieu from your lives or now feel you must keep the jam jars in perpetuity?

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    1. My mom let me keep a steel penny. It now is part of my fridge magnet collection. If there were someone to purchase the lot of the wheat pennies, then, for my mom, I'd sell them.

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  9. Quite the collection, Bea, and a cool story as well because I had no idea about them being magnetic.

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    1. Yeah, it's kinda fun to be able to put a steel penny on a magnet and have it stick!
      Wheat pennies do look cool and, depending upon their vintage, could be actually mostly made of copper (save for the '43s).

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  10. Interesting in that the book I'm currently listening to takes place in Texas during Depression among horrible sand storm etc. But a family token was a wheat penny. Until a few days ago, had never heard of a wheat penny, but this family considered it a sign about their future which did involve planting wheat. I knew things were made differently during WWII, but didn't know they (the pennies) were magnetic. Cool post, thanks for sharing the info. Maybe you could make a shadow box to display a few of his pennies as a momento and sell the others?
    Sandy's Space

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  11. Oh, that is interesting! Yes, the war effort changed probably the production of more things than we know.
    We hope to sell most of the collection for my mom. The pennies are of little monetary value, unfortunately.

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