The Lincoln penny has been produced almost the same amount of time as the United States mint has existed. The 1944 Lincoln penny is coveted by collectors for its design as well as its rarity. The front of the coin has Abraham Lincoln’s profile, and the word Liberty is to the left. The date, 1944, is to the right. There is an inscription across the top that reads, “In God We Trust.”
The back of the coin has two inscriptions in the center. It says “One Cent,” and “United States of America.” There are also two stalks of wheat on the left and right edge, which is why this penny is often called the Wheat penny. The phrase E Pluribus Unum is along the top of the back of the coin. You need to have the penny graded based on its condition if you plan to sell it to a dealer.
Wheat pennies made from 1944 to 1946 often were made using recovered ammunition shells from World War II. In 1943, the pennies were made from a zinc-coated steel to help save copper for this ammunition. The problem is that it resembled a dime, so officials changed it back to copper, but they made it using spent shell casings.
When they switched back in 1944, some of the steel planchets were left in the presses, so there were about two dozen steel pennies made in 1944. These can be valuable. Read on to learn how to tell if a 1944 wheat penny is steel.
Look at the Color
The first thing you can do is look at the color of your penny. While there is no silver in the penny, it looks silver and some people call them silver pennies. However, these pennies are zinc plated steel with a silver color, similar to the 1943 penny. However, finding that you have a 1944 penny that is silver in color is not definitive proof. Both steel pennies from 1944 and copper cents from 1944 appear silver in color. This matters because a 1944 steel penny can be worth more than $100,000, and there are only 15 to 20 in circulation.
The Magnet Test
Once you have a silver colored penny from 1944, you can do a simple magnet test to find out if it is the valuable steel penny or not. Basically, if your penny sticks to the magnet, it is a steel penny, and if it does not, it is copper. This is a fairly reliable test, and if you find that you have the elusive 1944 steel wheat penny, you have something with significant value.
Weigh the 1944 Penny
You will need a scale that goes to tenths of grams to use the weight to find out which penny you have. When you weigh the penny, if it weighs 3.11 grams, it is a copper penny. However, if it weighs 2.7 grams, it is a steel penny.
It is important to make sure that your scale is accurate, because the difference is just over 4/10 of a gram. If you think you have a steel penny, you should go to a third-party coin authenticator to find out. You will want to keep this penny under lock and key because it is very valuable.
People love to collect coins, and they are always looking for a rare find, such as the 1944 steel wheat penny. Many people get excited when they see that they have a silver penny, but this could be steel or copper. The copper version is worth around $100, so it does have some value. However, if you have a rare steel wheat penny, it could be worth more than $100,000. Use the tests above to find out if you have one of these pennies, and have it authenticated as soon as possible.