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1944 Steel Cent

I first started coin collecting as a youngster in 1941 in Denver, CO. I collected only circulated coins as many young people did at that time. I collected coins until about 1948.

In 1950 while I was a student at the University of Colorado, I received a 1944-D Steel Cent in circulation.

Recognizing the uniqueness of this coin, I promptly placed it into a Capitol holder to keep the coin essentially moisture tight. This proved to be a very effective moisture barrier because the coin, 52 years later, still does not show any sign of rust corrosion. The only time I took it out of this holder was to photograph it. In the 1960’s I sent a picture of this coin to Frank Spadone. He included it in his book, Variety and Oddity, Guide of United States Coins. I realize that his book is probably not as highly referenced today as it was then.

Since I did not know a procedure to have the coin authenticated without mailing it to an authenticator, I kept it in a safe place for the next 52 years. I joined PCGS in the spring of 2002 and hand carried the coin to the Long Beach Spring coin show to have it authenticated while I was there. PCGS authenticated the coin as “PCGS AU58, Struck on Steel Planchet”, (E2725.58/50012674). I sent an E-Mail to Rick Montgomery at PCGS asking if they could have placed “Struck on 1943 Steel Planchet” on the slab rather than “Struck on Steel Planchet.”

In 1944, the Philadelphia Mint contracted to strike 2-Franc coins for the Allied occupied Belgium using left over 1943 steel planchets. There is confusion whether some of the planchets designated for the Belgium coins were accidently struck as the 1944 cent or whether it was steel planchets originally scheduled for the 1943 coins that were still in the system during the change over to 1944.

It is my understanding that the Denver Mint did not mint any of the 2 Franc steel coins for Belgium so there should not be the same confusion about the intent on how these coins would be used. Therefore, my argument was that there should be no confusion about the intent for the 1943 steel planchets used in minting any 1944 D and 1944 S steel cents.

Rick Montgomery replied, “PCGS has made it our policy to plainly state that the coin is struck on a steel planchet without implication as to what the intended planchet was initially made for. It would not necessarily be correct to say that any 1944 Steel Cent was struck on a planchet that was intended to be a one cent coin originally when it could have been slated to be a Belgian piece.”

When I asked Rick Montgomery relevant to the Denver mintage, he said, “Your point that your coin was struck in Denver is a stronger argument, however, for the sake of consistency, PCGS has elected to maintain its description in the generic form.”

I agree with Rick Montgomery that it is better to stay with the generic form since it apparently makes no difference to the potential value of any 1944 steel cent. It is just an interesting area of discussion.

I do not intend to sell the coin at this time. After 53 years the coin is like family to me.




Editor’s note: Rick Montgomery is no longer with PCGS. He has joined NGC as Vice President.

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