Rare coin given to schoolboy as change now worth $2.3m

Lucky Lincoln: Rare 1943 Penny Could Fetch Over $1 Million at Auction

Don Lutes Jr. was a 16-year-old high school student in MA when he stumbled across one of the most famous error coins in American history in the cafeteria in 1947.

The planchet was one of 20 coins accidentally pressed in bronze during World War II when copper, which normally used to press coins, became an important material and therefore steel and bronze began to be used. One teen, 16-year-old coin collector Don Lutes Jr. of Pittsfield, Mass., found one in the change he got after buying lunch at a school cafeteria in March 1947. But on a hunch, Lutes kept it in his collection.

Heritage Auctions says more than 30 people bid on the rare coin Thursday night.

A similar coin auctioned in 2010 sold for $1.7 million.

A penny is only worth one cent, but not this one! While a pretty penny, it was far below the million dollars-plus experts said the coin might fetch.

Sarah Miller of Heritage Auctions told SWNS (via Fox): "This is the most famous error coin in American numismatics and that's what makes this so exciting".

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Lutes knew his coin was rare and held on to it.

Lutes's coin, now verified, will remain on auction until January 10, according to Fox News. Zinc-coated steel plates were "considerably harder" than those used in earlier designs, so penny pressers had to strike the blank steel coin much harder.

When he inquired with the US Treasury about the coin's value, he was told that it was "fraudulent" and all pennies issued in 1943 were made from zinc-coated steel. After Lutes's health started to decline, he moved to a nursing home.

All proceeds of the sale will go toward the Pittsfield Public Library, where auction officials say Lutes often visited before his death in September. "The few resulting "copper" cents were lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents and escaped detection by the Mint", Heritage officials said in a press release.

Lutes also reached out the the Treasury Department about his find, but he was met with a stale and standard response that all collectors were given.

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