Most of us never take a second glance at the pennies in our wallets. In fact, a lot of people think of the one-cent coin as something just taking up space. However, there is a particular penny in circulation that is worth way more money than all of the other change you have combined.
The 1943 copper penny is a highly sought-after coin that can rake in thousands of dollars. In 2017, one sold for $282,000 at an auction in Denver, according to news reports. What makes this penny so valuable compared to all the other pennies rattling around in your purse? It’s important to remember what was happening in history when they were minted.
It was WWII and copper was badly needed for ammunition and equipment, so they stopped making pennies out of copper and used steel coated in zinc instead. But according to the United States Mint, 40 copper pennies were accidentally struck before the steel was swapped into the presses that year — and if you happen to find one, you’ve hit the jackpot.
If you come across a penny from 1943, there are a few factors that will validate its authenticity. Unfortunately, these pennies are easily and often faked. Counterfeiters will shave down the numbers on other pennies from 1948 and ’49, or cover up pennies from 1943 with copper plating. The US Mint recommends using a magnet to test whether or not it’s actually copper. If the coin sticks to the magnet, it’s a fake — if it doesn’t stick, there’s a chance you’ve found the real deal.
Now go ahead and spill all your coin jars out to see if you’ve been sitting on one of these pennies worth a lot of money. Just be sure to get your find verified by an expert before splurging on any expensive treats.
This post originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.