From the Heritage Auction listing:
The 1943 bronze Lincoln cent is one of the most famous and sought-after error coins of all time. The rare Mint errors became legendary when nationwide rumors surfaced in the late 1940s that Henry Ford would give a new car to anyone who could find him a 1943 “copper” cent. The rumors were false, but they made the 1943 bronze cent an overnight sensation. When a few bronze cents actually turned up in circulation in 1947, they inspired numerous ads and stories in magazines and comic books throughout the 1950s and ‘60s. The publicity engendered by these coins captured the imagination of the general public to a high degree. Although the issue was controversial, the coins brought high prices whenever offered and the public’s fascination with these pieces has never diminished. Heritage Auctions is privileged to offer a Condition Census example of this fabulous rarity in just its first auction appearance.
Even non-numismatists are familiar with the 1943-dated zinc-coated steel cents that were produced to conserve copper for the war effort in that critical year. The “steelies” have always been extremely popular with Lincoln cent collectors, and the great majority of those coins were culled from circulation by 1960. Apparently, a small number of cents were erroneously struck on bronze planchets left over from 1942 and slipped into circulation undetected by the Mint’s quality control measures. This occurred when some bronze planchets from the previous year became lodged in the trap door of the tote bin used to feed planchets into the delivery system of the coin presses. When the tote bin was refilled with steel cent planchets the following year, the bronze blanks were dislodged and fed into the coin press along with the new steel planchets, creating the fabulous Mint errors. This phenomenon occurred at all three active U.S. Mints in 1943, and examples of 1943 branch mint bronze cents have survived, as well as the Philadelphia issues. A single 1943-D bronze cent is known, and five or six 1943-S specimens have surfaced over the years. The Philadelphia Mint coins are more numerous, and we have compiled a roster of survivors below, based on population data from the leading grading services. It is likely that some duplication is included in these grading events, due to resubmissions and crossovers. PCGS CoinFacts estimates only 10-15 examples of the 1943 Philadelphia bronze cent are extant.
The present coin is a new discovery that has been in the consignor’s family for many years. It is tied with one other specimen at PCGS for second-place in the Condition Census. The design elements are sharply detailed in most areas, with just a trace of the always-seen softness on Lincoln’s beard. The glossy walnut-brown surfaces show a few hints of olive and only minor signs of contact are evident. One tick above the 4 in the date acts as a possible pedigree marker. We believe this is the first time an NGC-graded specimen of this popular issue has been offered publicly. We expect intense competition from series specialists and error collectors when this lot is called.
1943 Philadelphia Bronze Cents Certified Populations
This is a listing of the certified grading events at PCGS and NGC. Duplications and crossovers are likely; some genuine examples may be omitted.
1. MS62 Brown. Found in circulation by Marvin Beyer, Jr., age 14, around 1957; ANA Convention Sale (Abe Kosoff, 1958), where the coin was withdrawn by Marvin Beyer Sr. before the sale; reportedly sold to the Greer Company of Los Angeles for $40,000 in 1959; Pre-Long Beach Sale (Superior, 10/2000), lot 4146, as MS61 ANACS, $60,375; Benson Collection, Part II (Goldbergs, 2/2003), lot 148 as MS61 Brown PCGS, $97,750 (certification #50035361); subsequently graded MS62 Brown PCGS Secure; Bob Simpson (9/2012); Simpson Collection. Beautiful blue-brown surfaces with generous luster, softly struck on Lincoln’s beard and coat. Certification #18523486.
2. MS61 Red and Brown. “James Schirrippa,” per PCGS CoinFacts. Sharply struck with deep orange and purple-blue patina and some brownish toning on the lower reverse, hints of green in the obverse field. Carbon spot at L(IBERTY). V-shaped mark right of C(ENT). In the Staten Island Collection Lincoln Cents, Off-Metal Strikes Registry Set (#2 behind the Simpson Collection). Certification #50040291.
3, 4. MS61 Brown. Two submissions; one is certification #19228068, last seen in the High Desert Collection. Lovely orange-gold and light-blue surfaces on both sides. PCGS still shows two in this grade, although as mentioned, one with certification #50035361 was later upgraded to the #1 Beyer-Simpson coin above. It is unclear if there are still two other PCGS coins in the MS61 Brown grade.
5. AU58. According to a photo (page 322, #8) in the 1996 Wexler-Flynn Lincoln cent Authoritative Reference, this coin was earlier certified by ANAAB with certificate #FD0251. Bob Simpson; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2016), lot 5266, realized $305,500. PCGS certification #25510132.
6. AU55. Americana Sale (Stack’s Bowers, 1/2013), lot 13257, brought $317,250; Regency Auction (Legend-Morphy, 5/2014), lot 12, realized $329,000. Currently in the Numism1 Set Registry inventory at PCGS and contained in the Hoiner 100 Greatest U.S. Coins Registry Set. Well-struck overall with medium milk-chocolate surfaces, small flecks at bottom of coat (below 1) and front of Lincoln’s head above the eyebrow. Weakness shows on O(NE) and AM(ERICA). Certification #26441689.
7. AU50. Sandy-tan example with a few scattered marks. Softly struck on 43 in the date. Photo on PCGS CoinFacts. Certification #22052180.
8. XF45 PQ. CAC. Pre-Long Beach Sale (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 2/2017), lot 756. Not identified by certification number.
9. Genuine PCGS (VF Details). A “teenaged newspaperboy”; bought at a Dearborn, Michigan, coin show around 1987; Goldberg Auctions (9/2007), lot 2462, brought $60,375. PCGS #21445581, no longer listed. Some unfortunate test cuts are made in the surfaces. Photographed as #4 in the Wexler-Flynn reference.
These grading events will undoubtedly duplicate some coins listed above. We know of no prior public trades of any of these listings.
10. MS63 Brown.
11. MS62 Brown. Certification #2067200-002. An attractive walnut-brown specimen with a tick over the 4 in the date. The present coin.
12. MS61 Red and Brown.
13. MS61 Brown.
14, 15, 16. AU58; three grading events. One coin is depicted on NGC Coin Explorer, unidentified as to grade or certification number -- but it is the present Simpson coin, now in a PCGS holder.
18, 19. AU50; two submissions. (NGC ID# 22E5, PCGS# 82709)