As rumours swirled about the rare copper coins, it was even reported that auto magnate Henry Ford was offering a free vehicle to anyone who could give him one. It was found in MA in 1947.
When Don Lutes Jr. was just 16 years old, he discovered a rare Lincoln penny among his lunch money change while getting food at his MA high school back in 1947.
Lutes took the Treasury statement for fact and kept the penny in his personal collection.
A rare coin found by a high schooler in his lunch money has been valued at nearly $1.7million, following the owner's death.
At the time, it was falsely reported that vehicle magnate Henry Ford would give a new auto to anyone who could give him one of these 1943 "copper" pennies.
During World War II, cooper was needed for wartime necessities like bullets and wire.
Don Lutes Jr. was 16 when he discovered the rare coin at school in March 1947.
"Stories appeared in newspapers, comic books and magazines, and a number of fake copper-plated steel cents were passed off as fabulous rarities to unsuspecting purchasers", according to Heritage Auctions. Buoyed by the Henry Ford rumor, he contacted the vehicle firm, but they informed him it was false. He also contacted the Treasury Department about his find but the Mint steadfastly denied any copper specimens had been struck in 1943. Legit prints of the coin have been found from all three active U.S. Mints: 10-15 from the Philadelphia Mint, six from the San Francisco Mint and one from the Denver Mint.
"In regard to recent inquiry, please be informed that copper pennies were not struck in 1943", the response read.
Lutes heard about the rumours of the coins and wondered if his was one of them.
"The few resulting "copper" cents were lost in the flood of millions of "steel" cents struck in 1943 and escaped detection by the Mint's quality control measures", Heritage Auctions said. "As a coin collector, he set the coin aside for future study, but did not publicize his find until years later".