1943 Steel Wheat Cent

The 1943 Steel Wheat Cent was produced during wartime. It was made from steel instead of copper due to the copper shortage during war. These steel cents would often corrode and rust after a certain amount of time in circulation. Many coin sellers would strip off the old zinc and replate them with zinc of chrome in order to sell this collector’s item.


Front / Obverse

The front of the 1943 steel cent is a side profile of President Abraham Lincoln.
Designer: Victor D. Brenner

Rear / Reverse

The reverse of this coin has “One Cent” written on it. On each side of the coin is a wheat head.
Designer: Victor D. Brenner



During WWII, copper was in great demand. The U.S. Mint made a decision to manufacture these 1943 pennies in 99 percent copper and one percent zinc. Because of the uniqueness of the composition for this coin, it has received many nicknames such as the “wartime cent,” “steel war penny” and (our personal favorite) “steelie.” This steel cent is the only American penny that can be picked up with a magnet!