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1944-D Steel Cent Error to be Auctioned by Heritage


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Dallas, TX: During World War II, copper was in short supply. Vital to the war effort for everything from ammunition to military equipment, the US Mint researched alternative metals from which one-cent coins could be made, thus increasing the supply of copper for military purposes. Various metals were explored, as well as plastics, but eventually zinc-coated steel was decided upon. All three mints - Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco - produced these coins in 1943, but problems with the new metal were soon discovered, including a tendency to rust and their confusion with dimes, and the zinc-coated steel production was abandoned the following year in favor of salvaged brass shell casings augmented with pure copper.


"As with many mintages, errors naturally occurred," said Greg Rohan, President of Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, "including off-metal cents of 1944, struck in the previous year's zinc-coated steel instead of the then-current shellcase alloy. David Lange, Director of Research for Numismatic Guaranty Corp. (NGC), noted that these rare cents are offered far too infrequently to establish a firm value, yet Heritage has had an uncommonly strong showing of such pieces in 2007. The Central States auction had two such coins, a 1944 and a 1944-D, while the June Long Beach auction had a 1944-D as well. Despite longstanding market conditions that gave the edge, in terms of price, to its 1943 bronze counterparts, eager bidding has narrowed the gap, particularly for high-end examples."


"Not surprisingly," Rohan said, "these off-metal strikes are exceedingly rare and popular among all coin collectors. Of the 27 off-metal pieces certified as genuine by ANACS through 1990, Lange reports an estimate of 'no more than 10' of the 1944-D variety. The Select Uncirculated 1944-D example offered in our upcoming auction continues Heritage's improbable run of branch mint steel planchet errors. The surfaces of this attractive piece have pleasing blue-gray patina with lavender elements and a single spot of darker color below the space between OF and AMERICA. The strike is well-defined by the standards of the steel cent, with strong detail on the portrait and crisply defined wheat ears. The fields are lightly marked overall, and a pair of abrasions appear on the chin. These flaws define the grade, yet have little impact on the coin's substantial visual appeal. This is the single finest 1944-D steel cent certified by NGC and ranks among the best-preserved examples of the 1944 steel planchet error from any mint, and as such, its sale creates a tremendous opportunity for the error collector and Lincoln cent enthusiast."


1944-D 1C --Struck on a Zinc-Coated Steel Planchet--MS63 NGC:


ESTIMATE: $75,000 - $100,000


For more information about Heritage's auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HA.com.


To reserve your copy of any Heritage auction catalog, please contact Client Services at 1-800-872-6467, ext. 150, or visit www.HA.com/Catalog to order by email.

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