The penny is now up for auction and the current bid is at $130,000.
Intrigued by his new coin, Lutes asked the U.S. Treasury for guidance and was told it had not made any 1943 copper pennies. But as his health declined past year, Lutes made a decision to sell the coin, said Peter Karpenski, a friend and fellow coin collector.
The auction house says Don Lutes Jr., who died a year ago, discovered the coin among change he received from his high school cafeteria in 1947.
"In regard to recent inquiry, please be informed that copper pennies were not struck in 1943", the response read.
The Mint denied issuing any copper coins but speculation grew about the existence of the rare pennies, with auto manufacturer Henry Ford stating he would give a new vehicle to anyone who could source one for him.
"Despite the mounting number of reported finds, the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens had been struck in 1943".
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'This lot represents a true "once in a lifetime" opportunity'.
Lutes's coin, now verified, will remain on auction until January 10, according to Fox News.
Around the end of 1942, a small number of bronze planchets - a plain metal disk that is stamped as a coin - got caught in the trap doors of the mobile tote bins used to feed the blanks into the Mint's coin presses, according to Heritage Auctions. 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.
Don Lutes, Jr., of Pittsfield, Massachusetts discovered a rare "copper" 1943 Lincoln Penny in his lunch money in 1947.
The 1943 copper penny "is the most famous error coin", according to Heritage Auctions.
But when Lutes contacted the Ford Motor Company, he was told the rumor was false. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steal [sic]". When they became dislodged, they were printed and circulated with the millions of steel copies. In 2010, a 1943 penny created with a bronze planchet sold for a record $1.7 million. "PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at no more than 10-15 examples in all grades".