Don Lutes Jr. collected the 1943 cent with a relief of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln when he was 16 years old from a school canteen as change and kept it over 70 years.
Less than 20 of the rare 1943 Lincoln pennies were ever made, and that was due to an error.
At the height of World War II in 1943, copper was a strategic metal used to make shell casings, telephone wires, and other wartime necessities.
Don Lutes Jr. found this rare penny in 1947.
Lutes's friend, Pittsfield resident Peter Karpenski, 71, said Lutes was an avid coin collector, and the 1943 penny was his favorite.
It was many years before the truth came out about the rare pennies, according to Heritage Auctions. The online auction ends at 6 p.m. Thursday when a live auction will begin at the Florida United Numismatics convention in Orlando. Made in error by the U.S. Mint, the penny is now going on auction and expected to reach over $2 million.
It was even reported, falsely, that Henry Ford would give a new vehicle to anyone who provided one of the rare coins to him. While a pretty penny, it was far below the million dollars-plus experts said the coin might fetch.
The Mint initially denied Lutes' claim that he had a 1943 copper Lincoln penny when he first notified notified the US Treasury about his findings. Lutes died in September 2018 at the age of 87, according to Miller. The resulting "copper" cents were lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents, escaped detection by the Mint's quality control measures, and quietly slipped into circulation.
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.