For some reason during times of war the U.S. Mint produced some very desirable and collectible minting errors. It's often argued that the minting errors are due to the Mint having to hire replacements for skilled workers who answered the call of duty and went off to fight the war. The replacements were not properly trained because there wasn't enough time. Production quotas increase during times of war and the quotas had be met, so training had to be done quickly. Whatever the reasons, war years have produced some spectacular mint error coins.

In 1918 World War One was still being fought, the U.S. was fighting in the trenches in Europe, and someone at the Denver Mint decided to reuse the 1917 die to strike 1918 Buffalo nickels. The old die was altered by engraving the number "8" over the "7." As strange as it may seem, someone at the San Francisco Mint did the same thing, altering the old 1917 die to produce 1918 coins. In this case the altered date was on the Standing Liberty quarter. These two over-date coins were produced in small quantities. Because of their rarity they bring very high prices when they turn up at auction.

It 1942 America was at war again. It had just entered World War II in December the previous year. The U.S. Mint again found itself hiring new workers to replace the skilled workers who answered the call and went off to war. This time the coin had a blatantly glaring minting error. The old 1941 Mercury Dime die was returned to service and engraved with a "2" to alter the date, but for some reason the "2" wasn't engraved exactly over the last number of the date, but engrave just to the right of it so that the date appears to be 19412. Small quantities of this rare dime were minted at the Philadelphia Mint and also at the Denver Mint. Collectors have paid tens of thousands of dollars for one of these rare coins.


When 1943 rolled around America decided its copper reserves were needed for fighting the war and would not be available for the making of the bronze used in minting pennies. Bronze is comprised of copper, tin, and zinc. The Mint switched to using zinc-coated steel to meet the demand for coins. Somehow, when the Mint switched to zinc-coated steel planchets (coin blanks) a few of the bronze planchets remained in the system and a very small number of bronze pennies with the date 1943 were struck and distributed. The existence of this small quantity of bronze 1943 pennies didn't come to light until years after the war. One was sold at auction in 1981 and the winning bid was $10,000. The 1943 "copper penny" is perhaps the most well known and sought after mint error coin.

The Mint returned to producing bronze pennies in 1944 because the zinc-coated steel coins turned out to be problematic; they looked too much like dimes and later on, after being in circulation for sometime, they had a tendency to rust. The concern over copper shortages had abated as the war pressed on. When the Mint switched back to bronze pennies in 1944, a few of the coins were struck using zinc-coated steel planchets that were still in the system. Though the 1944 "steel Penny" is as rare as the 1943 "copper penny" it hasn't gained as much of a following nor has it enjoyed the higher prices as its bronze cousin.

Article Source: Coin Collecting Guide
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