The 1943 bronze cents are among the most widely recognized rarities of the 20th century, the stuff of childhood dreams. The change to the wartime composition of zinc and steel for 1943 cents made the date stand out to just about every American alive at that time. When the first reports of examples struck in “copper” appeared, the search was on, as thousands searched through their change. One old wives’ tale has it that Henry Ford once offered a brand-new automobile to anyone who could produce a genuine specimen of this rarity, and a generation grew up reading the backs of comic books where colorful ads offered then unimaginable sums for a bronze 1943 Lincoln cent, a 1913 Liberty nickel, an 1804 dollar, and other rare coins. Though people undoubtedly searched hard, few were fortunate enough to find one.
The blanks for this famous error coin had their origins in 1942. When the mints switched to zinc-coated steel planchets in 1943, it is supposed that a small quantity of bronze planchets from the previous year were somehow caught up in the folds of the delivery carts used for blank planchets. In the course of coining cents in 1943, the stray bronze planchets from the previous year worked their way loose and wound up feeding through the presses along with the new steel planchets. Of the three issuing mints in 1943, Philadelphia seems to have produced the largest number of bronze cents, these being the most "common" today — that word of course is relative, as just a couple dozen or so are known. The 1943-D bronze cent is currently unique and the 1943-S bronze cent is known to the extent of but a half dozen or so examples.
The current example features glossy, golden-tan surfaces with no marks of consequence, even under low magnification. It is part of an exciting presentation of fascinating mint errors of 1943 and 1944, the pinnacle of which is likely to arrive when this coin is offered, as a 1943 bronze cent is always greeted with great enthusiasm. As Choice as this piece is, we expect Lincoln cent and error specialists alike to queue up for this important offering. Beyond this, the 1943 bronze cent is the kind of rarity that appeals to a very wide audience, as many collectors remember learning about this famous coin as children, from the aforementioned comic books and other sources. Though the dreams of few were fulfilled by searching pocket change a half century ago, today competition will likely run strong to fill that long standing desire when this coin crosses the auction block.