Tyler Heldt's Blog

02 Nov 2021

America's forgotten coin

Coins | Tyler Heldt

Did you know that there is a coin that is made out of steel? Well there it is the 1943 steel wheat cent. The steel cent as i'm going to call it is very unique and has a very good story about it

During World War II copper was used as a war metal and the US was in a war metal storage. To combat this, the US government decided to contract out the findings of the new materials and how to make them to several US companies. But with this new contract there was a whole lot of failure. New coins were experimented with such as different colors, fibers, zinc and even glass. The mint made some bronze cents just to try it out, but was proven too costly. And eventually it was chosen to be zinc coated steel to be the alloy which is the steel cent we have marked in history.

During WWII they needed a new cent to be made out of a different material because copper was a war metal and the US was in shortage of it. To make this cent was a challenge to say the least and there were problems from the start. First, the steel cents were hard to make. The original recipe for the planchets was 95% copper and 5% tin. This was a lot more malleable than steel . At the Philadelphia mint, they were having problems with the stamping process because the machines did not have the power to stamp the plachets on the dies to make it look good. This resulted in some lite strikes on the plachet and it did not look good. Also, some of the planchets got stuck in the machine and caused problems. This error also damaged the machines and halted the minting process for them to be fixed. Originally the United states mint wanted to use bronze sense; they have already had experience with it with the three cent coin. The United States mint did not use bronze because of the need to save copper for the war. Once they were minted the zinc coated steel coin almost immediately started to show spots and another word for the coin would be ugly. Almost as soon as they arrived to the general public the United states mint received complaints about the coin about how ugly they were. Also, during transport, lots of coins rusted and were tarnished and lost their mint luster just by being exposed to the air. Consumers and merchants mistook them for dimes. In addition, most coin operated machines would not accept them and would spit them back out. This was deemed a failure by the public and the lincoln steel cent is down in coin history.



Level 6

Good job. Well done.


Level 6

Nice blog! Enjoyed it! ; )


Level 5

Like the high grade steel cents. How will time effect a slabbed steel cent. Might become rare in years to come?


Level 5

Great blog!


Level 7

If Do you could put the bibliography up. I would like to read more about these problems? Thank you very much..

Tyler Heldt

Level 3

Yes I’m the official red book of Lincon cents there is a whole page dedicated to the steel cent

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Very interesting blog, thanks!

AC Coin$🌎

Level 6

Still that steel cent is a star shinning in every collector mind . They are rare.

Tyler Heldt

Level 3

I agree they are part of the colorful coin history of the United States

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