1944 Steel Penny Value: Find Out Now!

If you’ve ever wondered why coin collectors hunt for a 1944 steel penny, keep reading. They are some of the most valuable pennies in the world, and a few are worth over $100,000.

During World War II, the U.S. Mint struck millions of steel pennies to conserve copper for wartime development of military technologies, including communications and sonar systems and radar. 

In 1943, due to an error somewhere along the production line, about 35 examples of the zinc-coated steel cent were unknowingly struck bearing the date 1944, making these among the rarest Lincoln cents ever made.

History of the Steel Penny

During World War II, copper was a vital metal needed for war materials. The U.S. Mint made pennies out of steel covered in zinc to conserve copper. This experiment worked well, and they continued to produce steel pennies until the end of 1943.

1944 steel pennies

How to Tell if a 1944 Wheat Penny is Steel

A few 1943 pennies were struck in bronze (copper). Bronze cents metal errors are extremely rare, valuable pennies, and command a huge premium.

Numismatic professionals speculate they were struck by accident, while others believe they were deliberately struck as souvenirs for Mint officials.

Copper prices dropped after the war, and pennies returned to the material in 1946.

The 1944 steel cent (also known as a steelie or a war penny) is a scarce Lincoln cent struck in steel with a zinc coating at the Philadelphia Mint in 1944 during World War II.

These penny coins were struck accidentally and are, therefore, quite rare. 

1944 steel penny values

The scarcity of this penny and its historical significance make it an attractive item for many coin collectors. Several factors can determine whether it’s worth more than just one cent if you come across a steel penny.

Why Do 1944 Steel Pennies Exist?

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States of America halted the production of copper pennies.

The U.S. Mint used other materials to make pennies, including steel and zinc-coated steel. These materials were used to make one-cent pieces through the end of World War II.

After the war, the U.S. Mint returned to copper planchets to strike pennies. 

Some collectors and experts theorize that steel blanks, or steel planchets, were left in the hoppers and accidentally struck, then distributed. As a result, a small mintage number of 1944 steel cents were produced and released into circulation by mistake.

1944 steel penny
This is the PCGS MS64 graded 1944 steel penny sold for $180,000 in 2021.

The Steel Planchets

It’s also possible that the steel planchets for Belgian two-franc coins (produced by the Philadelphia Mint for a short time while minting foreign coins) were struck with the dies for Lincoln cents by accident. 

Belgian two-francs resemble pennies in size (although slightly larger), so it’s conceivable that the Philadelphia Mint struck those planchets by mistake.

The 1944 Philadelphia-minted steel penny is one of the rarest American coins ever produced by the United States Mint.

For years, it has been speculated that only around 35 of these penny errors were ever circulated, but recent findings have shown that there may be a few more than experts estimated.

1944 steel penny
The 1944 Steel Penny

How Much Are 1944 Steel Pennies Worth?

The 1944 steel Lincoln penny is worth between $75,000 and $110,000, depending on its condition.

1944 Steel Penny with No Mint Marks

Typically, the error coin has value because of its rarity. The 1944 steel penny is no different. Coin values for steel cent errors can reach tens of thousands of dollars.

Spotting Counterfeit 1944 Steel Pennies

How can you identify fake 1944 steel wheat pennies? If you have a 1944 steel wheat penny and want to know if it’s real or fake, you can spot a few details to confirm.

most valuable 1944 steel pennies

The date should be stamped nicely on your coin with no signs of fading or doubling. The Lincoln wheat penny should also have nice, even wear across its face and “wheat” imprints on the reverse (back) of the coin.

The coin’s color should be light silver-gray with no brown spots or discoloration anywhere on the coin.

How to Tell if a 1944 Penny is Steel

If you think you have a 1944 steel penny, you should weigh it first. 1944 steel pennies weigh 2.7 grams, while an ordinary copper coin weighs 3.11 grams.

Another trick would be to use a magnet to see if there’s steel in the penny. It will stick to the magnet if it’s a 1944 steelie.

It’s important to know that the 1943 copper and the 1944 steel penny are among the most forged U.S. coins today. You are far more likely to run into a fake 1943 copper penny or 1944 steel wheat penny than an authentic coin.

A quick search online will reveal several reproductions, fakes, and other forgeries for sale at fairly hefty price tags.

As with collecting Indian Head pennies, half dollars, or any other rare coin, do your homework before buying one of these rare pennies. Speak to an expert for authentication before purchasing an expensive rare coin.

1944 steel pennies
As you can see, the 1944 steel penny comes in a variety of different shades. Don’t let one slip through your fingers!

Appraisal and Selling

The first thing you should do is take the coin to an appraiser or have it looked at by a professional coin dealer. They can tell you more about the coin, but they can also tell you how much it could be worth.

A third-party authenticator will help you determine whether your coin is genuine or counterfeit. These coin grading companies will grade your coin based on several factors

The 1944 Steel Penny Mint Mark

The first is the mint mark, which indicates which U.S. Mint struck the coin.

For example, a 1944 steel penny with no mint mark was made in Philadelphia; one with a “D” was made in the Denver Mint, and one with an “S” was made at the San Francisco Mint.

The next factor is the actual condition of the coin itself. This condition is graded from 1 to 70, with 70 being perfect (extremely rare and valuable coins).

A well-preserved, uncirculated 1944 steel penny might be valued at $100,000 or more.

steelie penny pcgs
The 1944 Steel Penny graded in with a PCGS AU55 rating.

PCGS Ratings and Grades

There are several PCGS grades for a 1944 Steel Penny. Mint state (M.S.) is a coin’s highest grade on the PCGS rating scale.

Mint State is ranked 70 to 65, with the MS70 rating being the perfect coin.

For the average condition 1944 steel penny, values can still be tens of thousands. Here’s a look at a few PCGS-graded 1944 steelies and the final sale price of the most recent transaction.

MS64 Sold on 6/2021 for $180,000

MS64 Sold on 8/2021 for $108,000

MS63 Sold on 8/2018 for $87,500

AU55 Sold on 2/2001 for $11,500

AU55 Sold on 1/2010 for $25,300

AU53 Sold on 4/2008 for $34,500

EF45 Sold on 1/2008 for $29,900

Pennies Struck with Shell Casings

From 1944 to 1946, the penny was struck with copper shell cases from used ammunition shells. During World War II, copper was a vital component of the war effort.

Once the war ended, copper shell casings were melted down and used to strike new Lincoln Wheat cent pennies.

The coins are very common, and most are worth face value. They can still be found in pocket change.

Selling a 1944 Steel Penny

You can put your 1944 steel penny on eBay and hope for a reasonable price, or you can go to a professional coin dealer to get what it’s worth.

Coin dealers are professionals who buy and sell coins for a living. They know all the ins and outs of coin collecting and have built a good reputation in their area.

1944 steel penny pcgs
So far, there are only four MS64 graded 1944 steel pennies in the entire world. The current estimated value for one MS64 coin is $185,000.

The Rare Coin Collectible

Regardless of whether your 1943 or 1944 steel penny is graded as genuine, you should be proud.

The 1943 copper penny and 1944 steel penny are highly sought after by collectors and coin enthusiasts due to their historical value.

Their value greatly depends on the state of preservation, but for the most part, these pennies are rarely found in anything less than fine shape, as many have spent their lives in the hands of collectors

1944 Steel Penny Value

The Hunt for the Steel Penny

At the end of the day, whether a 1943 copper cent or a 1944 steel cent is worth more money is a subject best left to the professionals. 

With that being said, if you own one of these coins and want to know what it’s worth on today’s market — or if you want a ballpark estimate — you can contact grading service companies, such as NGC, that specialize in coins that are graded as authentic.

1944 steelie
The 1944 Steel Penny, an impressive coin!

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