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ORLANDO (CBSMiami) — A rare penny that was found in a teen’s cafeteria change in 1947 is being auctioned off this week in Florida.

Don Lutes Jr. kept the 1943 copper penny he stumbled upon in his high school cafeteria seven decades ago in a safe behind a wall in his Massachusetts home.
(Source: Heritage Auctions)

The coin was mistakenly minted in copper in 1943 when all US pennies were supposed to be made of zinc-coated steel during World War II.

Don Lutes Jr. discovered the coin seven decades ago and knew it was very rare, so he hung onto it. Only a small number of cooper pennies were minted, making them very special to coin collectors.

Heritage Auctions estimates the coin may go for upwards of $170,000.

The top bid after a two-week online auction is $130,000, 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.

The 1943 copper penny “is the most famous error coin,” according to Heritage Auctions.

Another 1943 bronze cent minted in Denver sold for a record $1.7 million in 2010. There are only 10-20 other coins like Lutes’, which was minted in Philadelphia.


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