NGC Certifies Rare 1943 Copper Cent Found in Gumball Machine


Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC)  has certified a 1943 Copper Cent that was found in a gumball machine decades ago. The 1943 Copper Cent is generally regarded as the most famous of all mint errors.

1943 1C Bronze NGC XF Details
This rare 1943 Copper Cent, graded NGC XF Details, was found in a gumball machine. Cents from 1943 were suppose to be struck in zinc-coated steel.

All 1943 cents were supposed to have been struck in zinc-coated steel so that copper could be conserved for more important uses during World War II. Nevertheless, a few were mistakenly struck in copper (its composition is technically bronze) and found their way into circulation.

Examples are known from all three mints that produced cents that year: Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver, with the Philadelphia examples being the most numerous. Still, only about 20 Philadelphia examples are known to exist.

The 1943 Copper Cent recently certified by NGC was found in a gumball machine in Philadelphia in 1976. It was then sold to a collector for the then-significant sum of $1,000.

The buyer passed down the coin to his children, who decided to submit it to NGC for certification after seeing that another NGC-certified 1943 Copper Cent — the Don Lutes, Jr. Discovery Specimen — had sold for $204,000 at auction in January. That specimen is named for the teenager who discovered the first 1943 Copper Cent in 1947 in his change.

The family checked the NGC Dealer Locator on to find an NGC Authorized Dealer who could assist with the submission. They found Hudson Rare Coins, which submitted the family heirloom to NGC on their behalf. NGC graded it XF Details.

"When someone calls to say that they have a 1943 Copper Cent, you never expect it to be real. It was therefore an incredible thrill when NGC confirmed this coin as a genuine example," says Mitchell A. Battino, president of Hudson Rare Coins. "Now that it is certified by NGC there will never be any doubts about the authenticity of this great rarity."

Hudson Rare Coins will represent the family in the sale of this recently NGC-certified example of the "king of mint errors."

NGC has certified more than 42 million coins, medals and tokens. Founded in 1987, the company provides accurate, consistent and impartial assessments of authenticity and grade. For more information about NGC and its grading services, visit

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David OBrien

I still believe these coins were deliberate, not accidental. Same as the 1944 steel cents. Some workers had their heads screwed on straight and messed with the US Mint.


That’s always possible, but if so why didn’t they keep the coins rather than letting them slip into circulation? Unless of course it was a pure prank and no one expected the coins to become superstars.