JL H. writes: About 20 years ago, my grandmother was given a 1973, Denver minted, silver penny (by mistake for a dime) while working as a sales associate. Thinking it was quite unique, she kept it in a box for many years. In 1981, she found and article in “American Collector” magazine that read as follows:
‘For Sale: One 1973 silver penny valued at $35,000. Only 13 silver pennies were made…”
My Grandmother has since given me the penny to secure its worth in the rare coin market as of today. What I’d like to find out is, how much would one of these pennies we worth today? I’d appreciate any information you could give. Thank you for your time.
Fascinating story but there never were any U.S. cents minted on silver flans. The usual material was copper or an alloy mixed with zinc and tin. In 1973 there weren’t any regular issue coins minted in silver. Dimes, quarters and half dollars ceased being minted from 90% silver alloy at the end of 1964. As the U.S. government hates creating rarities, if such a coin was surreptitiously made, it would be confiscated as soon as it was offered for sale. Officially, there are no records reflecting the minting of such a coin.
You might have a cent struck on a clad, copper-nickel dime planchet. This would be the same size, weight (2.27 grams) and color as a dime but look like an Lincoln cent. As the cent is larger than a dime, the outer part of the design would be missing. Wrong metal error, cent on clad dime blank, would bring close to $100 in the collector market.
There are some other cents that look “silver” but were made in other metals. Some examples are the 1943 cent minted from steel (common), a 1944 steel cent minted in error (rare) and a 1974 pattern cent minted in aluminum (very rare…only a few samples made).
I’ve also seen silver plated cents, but these were done outside the Mint for an unknown purpose, possibly for some promotion but these have no value. If the “silver” cent weighs 3.11 grams it’s a copper cent.