1944 1C Steel MS64 Certification #18523968, PCGS #82722
The 1944 Steel Cent is a very rare off-metal striking created when 1) a steel blank left over from 1943 was struck in the normal production run of 1944 Bronze Cents or 2) a steel blank meant for a foreign coin accidentally made it into a bin of bronze cents. Experts estimated the surviving population of the 1944 Steel Cent to be in the range of 25-30 pieces, or about double that of the known population of 1943 Bronze Cents. The finest example (the one illustrated here) is part of the Simpson collection of off-metal 1943 and 1944 Cents, the only complete collection ever assembled of these hugely popular coins.
Important note: Until recently, PCGS certified 1944 Steel Cents under their Mint Error program, which assigned the coins certificate numbers which were subsets of the normal 1944 Bronze Cents. Thus, the PCGS Population Report data for the 1944 Steel Cent is understated and should be ignored.
The following is excerpted from a PCGS presss release dated January 17, 2000, written by the late Bruce Amspacher, :
The first 1944 steel cent to be submitted to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) under its new Mint Error Program has been certified as authentic and graded MS60. The off-metal rarity is one of the few mint state examples of this error known to exist. "The 1944 steel cent is regarded by many as the poor sister of the more famous 1943 copper cent, but in reality it's a great rarity in and of itself," said Fred Weinberg, mint error specialist/consultant for PCGS and a world-renowned authority. "This is one of the neatest of all mint errors, and there are probably less than five mint state pieces known to exist. One specialist was able to trace only two examples in mint state." Not only is the coin a rarity in all grades with an estimated 75 pieces thought to exist, but most of the survivors are not certifiable due to extreme environmental damage.
The steel cents were officially issued only in 1943, as copper was needed for the war effort. In 1944 the composition was changed as the cents were made of "shell case bronze" from recycled shell cases for the next two years. The 1944 steel cent is noted on the holder as "Struck on Steel Planchet" rather than "Struck on 1943 Steel Planchet" because there is a possibility that the blank came from a 1944 Belgian 2-Francs coin. The US Mint was under contract to produce 2-Francs pieces for Belgium in that year, and the composition and weight of the planchets is indistinguishable from the 1943 "steelies."