The penny was put up for auction, and as of Wednesday morning, January 9, the bid was at $120,000. That year, during World War II, the U.S. Mint was striking one-cent coins using zinc-coated steel instead of previously-used copper, which is used in bronze.
Lutes took the Treasury statement for fact and kept the penny in his personal collection.
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.
So amongst the millions of "steel" pennies were a tiny number of "copper" cents that managed to quietly enter circulation. "Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens that had been struck in 1943".
The coin, produced accidentally by the U.S. Mint, has been described as the "most famous" coin made in error, according to Heritage Auctions.
The coin is one of 20 1943 Lincoln pennies mistakenly pressed with copper.
This mysterious and ultra-valuable coin Lutes came across?
Heritage Auctions will offer the coin from January 10-13 during its Florida United Numismatists Show in Orlando.
Only a handful of such coins have ever been discovered, according to Heritage Auctions.
The pennies "captured the imagination of coin collectors, school children, and members of the general public alike", but alluded even the most persistent collectors; only a handful of legitimate specimens have turned up in the following seven decades - including the one belonging to Don Lutes Jr, who passed away in September. Those planchets went unnoticed when the bins were refilled with zinc-coated steel planchets in 1943, Heritage Auctions said.
But when Lutes contacted the Ford Motor Company, he was told the rumor was false. When they became dislodged, they were printed and circulated with the millions of steel copies.
Between 10 to 15 of the coins with a copper appearance made in facilities including the Mints of Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver are thought to exist today. However, in 2010, one certified by the Professional Coin Grading Service was sold for a record $1.7 million by Legend Numismatics.