The 1944 steel penny (also known as a steelie or a war penny) is a scarce and valuable coin that was minted during World War 11. A shortage of copper brought on by the war forced the US Mint to discover substitute materials to use in the production of pennies. As a result, it produced steel pennies from 1943 to 1944.
Despite having a one-cent face value, the 1944 steel penny is much more valuable due to its scarcity and historical importance.
Let’s find out more about the 1944 steel penny.
1944 Steel Penny Details
- Category: Lincoln Cents, Wheat Reverse
- Mints: Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver
- Total mintage: 40 or a little more
- Observe designer: Victor D. Brenner
- Reverse designer: Victor D. Brenner
- Face Value: $0.01
- Edge: Plain
- Diameter: 19mm
- Thickness: 1.5mm
- Composition: Steel-coated zinc
- Weight: 2.7g
1944 Steel Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good||Fine||Extremely Fine||Uncirculated|
|1994 No Mint Mark Steel Penny Value||$0.02
|1944 “S” Steel Penny Value||$0.02||$0.03||$400,000||$739,200|
|1944 “D” Steel Penny Value||$0.02||$0.03||$32,500||$59,900|
1944 No Mint Mark Steel Penny Value
A small letter or symbol indicates where the coin was minted. The mint mark should be visible on the back side of the 1944 steel penny, just above the year. The Philadelphia Mint uses a “P” as its mint mark while the Denver and San Francisco mints use a “D” and “S” as their respective mint marks.
However, some 1944 steel pennies were struck in Philadelphia without the mint mark, although the cause of this is unclear, it is thought to be the result of a die mistake. It is believed that a small number of 1944 steel pennies were produced using leftover steel blanks from 1943, which were not properly marked before being sent to the mint. It is also possible that a coin-striking die was defective or that the mint purposely omitted the mint mark as an experiment.
Whatever the cause, the 1944 steel penny without a mint mark is a highly sought-after coin among enthusiasts. According to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), only about 25 to 30 of these coins are known to exist. The 1944 no-mint mark steel penny is more valuable than its face value of one cent, but its actual worth will vary depending on how it is preserved. A 1944 steel penny without a mint mark that was auctioned off in 2018 for $282,000 became one of the most expensive American pennies ever sold.
In addition to its rarity, the 1944 steel penny without a mint mark is also fascinating because it is one of the few U.S. coins that was produced during a time of war using a non-traditional metal. These coins serve as a remembrance of the sacrifices made during World War 11 and the U.S. Mint’s creativity in the face of a serious national emergency.
1944 – S Steel Penny Value
The 1944 S Steel Penny minted in San Francisco, California, as indicated by the “S” mark is one of the rarest coins in the steel penny series. Because they were only made for a brief time and a large portion of them were ultimately melted down, these coins are now even rare to find.
The 1944 S steel penny’s worth can change based on its condition and other elements. While a coin in excellent shape might be worth thousands of dollars, one in poor condition might only be worth a few cents. However, these coins are the rarest of the 1944 steel series, with only 2 known copies. The coins go for just under $400,000 in an EF 40, while an MS 60 could bring in almost $750,000. The greatest sale price ever in MS63 was over $1.1M. One of these coins sold in MS 66 for more than $370,000. The currency was slightly underweight, weighing 2.6g as opposed to 2.7g.
For collectors and investors, the 1944 S steel penny represents a special piece of American history. The coin is a valuable addition to any collection due to its rarity and historical importance. While some coin collectors only concentrate on collecting steel pennies, others look for particular dates or mint marks.
1944 – D Steel Penny Value
A few steel pennies produced in 1944 were stamped with the Denver Mint’s “D” mint mark, showing they were made there. Currently, it is known that there are only about seven or ten of these steel pennies with the “D” mint mark in existence, making them incredibly uncommon and expensive. Due to their rarity, coin collectors highly sought after 1944 steel pennies with the “D” mint mark. These pieces sell for just over $30,000 in MS 60. Prices are a little more expensive than 1944 no-mint mark pennies. Over $37,000 was paid for an AU 53 1944 D steel penny. It is said that a single 1944 steel penny with the “D” mint mark was sold for over $1 million in 2010, making it one of the most expensive pennies ever sold. These coins are extremely rare, which contributes to their high value, but they also have historical importance as a wartime measure.
It is important to have a 1944 steel penny authenticated by a reputable coin dealer or grading service if you chance to find one with the mint mark “D”. Being cautious when buying or selling these coins is essential because there have been instances of 1944 “D” steel pennies that are fake.
History of the 1944 Steel Penny
In 1943, the United States government issued a mandate that all pennies produced that year were to be made of steel, rather than copper. This was due to the need for copper in the war effort, particularly for the manufacture of shell casings and other military hardware. The steel penny was meant to serve as a temporary measure until the war’s end when coins would once more be made of copper. The public did not like the steel penny because it was readily mistaken for a dime due to its weight and color similarity. The steel of the penny was also susceptible to rusting, which made them look bad and hard to manage.
In 1944, the mints restarted producing copper wheat pennies as copper became more widely accessible. However, some of the fresh copper was combined with steel plates that had been overproduced during the conflict. Because of this, it is considered one of the wheat mistake pennies from 1944.
In general, the coin is referred to as a “Lincoln penny” because it features his likeness. The head’s side (observe), however, has honored Lincoln since 1909, while the tail’s side (reverse) has altered at least four times. He was born on February 12 and was killed on April 15, 1865. In honor of his 100th birthday, the coin was unveiled after his passing. Abraham Lincoln always appears on the front of a Lincoln Cent coin, so the reverse design is more frequently used to identify the pieces. This features the four designs on the bicentennial penny (2009), the wheat sheaves on the Wheat penny (1909 to 1958), the Lincoln Memorial on the Memorial Penny (1959 to 2008), and the Union Shied Penny that is still in circulation today (2010 to date).
1944 Steel Penny Grading
The currency grading system, known as the Sheldon grading scale, is widely used. The highest grade a coin can earn is 70 on the scale, which runs from 1 to 70. A coin with a grade of 1 is considered to be severely worn, while a coin with a grade of 70 is considered to be in perfect shape.
A 1944 steel penny of grade 65 or higher is regarded to be in excellent condition, and coins in this range can fetch a high price from collectors.
Check how to grade your steel penny from this video.
Rare 1944 Steel Penny Error Lists
Coin errors can be found at the factory, in the bank, or by members of the public. Some of these imperfections have considerable value. Since genuine mistakes on low-grade coins could be worth hundreds of dollars, knowing where these steel pennies originated and why some errors occurred might also be useful.
1. Planchet Struck Error
The majority of these planchet mistakes were discovered during the quality control procedure, making them relatively uncommon and ensuring that very few of them were ever distributed. But there are still a few 1944 steel penny planchet-struck mistakes in circulation, and collectors prize them greatly.
The 1944 steel penny’s “double denomination” piece is its most well-known planchet struck error. This currency has the same size and shape as a dime because it was produced on a planchet meant for producing dimes. Only a small number of known examples of these coins are in existence, making them extremely rare. Because of their great value to collectors, they can sell for tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.
2. Double Die Obverse Error
When the coin is struck twice with the same die, a double die error occurs, making the design components on the coin’s surface appear twice. With the phrases “In God, We Trust” above and “Liberty” below, the profile of Abraham Lincoln is depicted on the 1944 steel penny’s obverse. The words and profile are visible twice and look slightly out of alignment on the double die error.
The 1944 steel penny’s double die obverse error is noteworthy because it is the only known case of a double die error on a steel penny. In addition, collectors prize any variation of the currency due to the rarity of steel pennies in general.
Depending on the coin’s condition and other variables, the double die obverse error can cost anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to well over a million dollars.
3. The Off-Center Strike Error
The off-center strike error of the 1944 steel penny occurs when the coin is struck off-center during production. This indicates that the coin’s design is not correctly centered and may be partially or completely cut off. The extent of the off-center can vary, with some coins having a small portion of the design missing and others having the complete design shifted off-center.
Although it is not as valuable as the double die obverse mistake, the off-center strike error is a rare and prized coin among collectors. However, this error is a distinctive addition to any coin collection due to its rarity, and it can still bring in a high price at auction or from a coin dealer. The degree of the off-center strike, the coin’s condition, and its rarity can all affect the worth of a 1944 steel penny with an off-center strike. Coins with a more severe off-center strike typically have a higher value than those with a slight design change.
Curious to find out more about the 1944 steel penny errors? Watch this video.
1. What Is A Quick Way To Check The Authenticity Of A 1944 Steel Penny?
Examine the coin using a magnet. Coins made of real steel will stick to the magnet, but coated coins won’t.
2. How Many 1944 Steel Coins Are Still In Circulation?
There are currently only four 1944 steel pennies known in the world and they are graded MS64.
Finally, it should be noted that the 1944 steel penny was a mistake production that has since become a famous part of American numismatic history.
Although it was produced to save copper for the war effort, the move to steel turned out to be a mistake in terms of the durability and longevity of the penny.
Today, the 1944 steel penny is a rare and valuable collector’s item that serves as a reminder of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the U.S. Mint during a time of war.