1944 Wheat Penny

1944 Wheat Penny

As you know, the world was at war in 1944.  The United States needed to save copper for things like shell casings and wiring on boats, tanks and planes.  The penny, which was made from 95% copper, was changed to steel coated in zinc in 1943.  The 1943 steel penny only lasted one year because of a flaw in the design.  But the 1944 wheat penny would not be completely back to normal.  This penny is sometimes referred to as “The Shell Case Penny” because these pennies were actually made from old shell casings!  

The United States had used 95% copper, and 5% tin and zinc to manufacture the Lincoln Cent up until 1943 when they changed to steel.  The steel penny had a layer of zinc coated on the outside of the coin to prevent rust from forming.  The pennies still rusted because of the flawed minting process which allowed moisture to create rust on the coins. Almost all the 1943 pennies were in poor shape in less than a year, so the 1944 wheat penny was back to copper. 

Metal Composition of the 1944 Wheat Penny

The 1944 wheat penny was a little different in composition.  It is made from 95% copper and 5% zinc.  There was no tin in any of these coins because they were actually made from recycled shell casings.  The shell casings were made from brass, which is a yellow alloy of copper and zinc.  So it seemed like a waste to let all these shell casings go to waste.  The United States minted these “shell case pennies” from 1944-1946.  These are highly collectible for many collectors.

There were actually 1,435,400,000 pennies minted in 1944.  This was the first time the United States Mint actually broke the 1 billion mark in minting the penny.  Now days (2018) we produce billions of pennies!  

One thing to notice about the 1944 wheat penny is the color.  Because this coin does not contain tin, the copper and zinc create a yellowish color.  These coins will have a yellow look to them when you hold it beside a 1942 or older penny.  

A Valuable 1944 Wheat Penny to Watch for

1944 steel wheat penny

Even though all the pennies minted in 1944 were supposed to be made from these shell casings, there have been errors found!  There have been 1944 wheat pennies found made from steel!   Since there was a change at The Mint, there is the possibility for a transitional error coin.   This transitional error coin is because of the change in metal composition.   Error coins like these can prove to be extremely valuable! 

The 1944 transitional error coin is made from steel.  It is thought that maybe there were some coin blanks left over from 1943 that got mixed in with the 1944 coin blanks.  There have been several examples found.  These coins sell for thousands of dollars if authenticated and certified.  Even if they are not certified, they can still sell for several thousands. 

This error coin is very easy to spot.  Just look for a silver colored penny (steel coated in zinc) that has 1944 on it!  You could also take a magnet and run it through your coins.  After you run it through your coins, if you have one on the end of the magnet that has the date 1944 on it… you have a winner!

Other Errors to Look for on the 1944 Wheat Penny

There are several other error coins to keep a watch for from 1944.   The 1944 D over S wheat penny is one of these to watch for.  This coin is a little difficult to spot sometimes.  You will definitely need magnification to be able to find this error coin.  

There are actually 2 different 1944 D over S errors to look for.  Check out the pictures to know exactly what you should look for.  There will be a D mint mark that is minted on top of a S mint mark.  The S is sometimes hard to see..   If you find this error, you could be looking at $2500!  I believe the average price of this error coin is around $900, which is still great!

1944 d/s wheat penny

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