Heads Up: Your Old Pennies Could Be Worth $200,000

Elizabeth Gulino
Photo credit: Getty Images

From House Beautiful

Photo credit: Hearst Owned

In today's world, pennies are basically obsolete—how much can we really do with something worth one cent, after all? But before you go ahead and toss your penny collection out for a shiny new credit card, you'll want to take another look—some of your pretty pennies could actually be worth up to $200,000.

Earlier this year, a famous one-cent wonder made headlines when it was auctioned off at Heritage Auctions for a whopping $204,000. The coin that brought in that absurd amount of cash was a 1943 bronze Lincoln.

Back in 1942, the U.S. Mint decided to switch to a zinc-coated steel planchet (that's the metal disk that gets stamped as a coin) instead of the usual bronze they used, so that they could preserve the copper used in bronze for the war. But a few of the bronze coins snuck through in the minting process and were released into circulation.

“One-cent coins have been around since the beginning of the U.S. monetary system,” David Stone, a coin cataloguer for Heritage, told CNBC. “Several prototypes for the cent were produced in 1792, including the large Birch cent.” One of the most pricey pennies, which sold at auction for $2.6 million, was the large Birch cent Stone is referring to—it was minted back in 1792 and currently holds the ironic record for the most expensive one-cent coin.

If you suspect that you’ve got a valuable 1943 bronze Lincoln in your possession, the Mint suggests testing it with a magnet first. If it sticks, it’s not copper, but if it doesn't stick—you may have yourself a winner.


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