Coin Keeper's Blog

13 Dec 2021

US Coins During World War II

Coins-United States | Coin Keeper

World War Two started when Germany launched an attack on Poland in September 1, 1939. In response, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. In December 7, 1941, the Japanese made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. On December 8, the United States of America declared War on Japan.

During the war, many things were rationed. One of the first things rationed were tires. There was a shortage of natural rubber for the tires, because the Japanese conquered the rubber-producing regions of Southeast Asia. Synthetic rubber was in production at that point, but it was unable to compete with natural rubber commercially, thus the US did not have enough manufacturing capacity at the start of the war to make synthetic rubber.

Sugar was the first consumer commodity to be rationed. Civilians first received their ration books on May 4, 1942. It was considered patriotic to not use all of the stamps. It is possible to buy ration books today for between $4 and $8, and partial books for between $2 and $4.

Coin mintages were also affected by the war. In 1943 the mint replaced the copper in the one cent coins with zinc coated steel. The reason for this was that the copper was necessary for ammunition and other military equipment.

Problems started to occur soon after the one cent coins were first minted. Freshly minted, they were often mistaken for dimes. Magnets placed in vending machines (witch used one cent coins) were placed to pick up steel slugs (steel slugs are counterfeit coins used to make purchases from a coin-operated devise.) These magnets also picked up the legitimate steel cents. Also, because the zinc didn’t cover the edges of the coin, sweat would quickly rust the metal.

Because of these problems, the mint stopped making them the following year. Instead, the mint used a process where they salvaged brass shell casings, and added copper into it to increase the purity.

There are two very rare metal errors on the 1943/1944 cents. One of them is a 1943 copper cent. This error was made when the copper planchets (the blank metal disks that the design is struck onto) were left in the press hopper and press machines during the change from copper to steel. The other error is the steel 1944 cent. This error was made in a similar way to the 1943 copper cent. A 1943 tin cent was also found in 2019. It was graded by NGC, and it was composed of 86% tin.

In October of 1942 the mint started to Produce the wartime silver five-cent piece composed of fifty-six percent copper, and thirty-five percent silver. The reason for this is that the nickel was a very important metal for the war effort, along with the copper. Nickel was used for tank armor, anti-aircraft guns, and was even used for portable bridges. The mint made these coins between the years 1942, and 1945. These coins can be distinguished by the large mintmark above the dome of Monticello.



Level 4

Wartime US coins are very cool and unique looking. One of my favorite types of coins for sure.

The 1943 copper cent got me into coin collecting. I was looking through every penny I could find! I found a 1946 cent, and thought it was worth like $40,000. XD


Level 6

Well written blog! Enjoyed reading it! ; )


Level 6

Beautiful coins! ; )


Level 6

These coins make a nice exhibit or program


Level 4

Nice blog. I consider WWII a great subject, for coins and history. Great blog Coin Keeper!


Level 6

Nice job. Well written blog. Thanks.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Well done blog!


Level 5

Great blog and a very nice looking nickel! Thanks for sharing!


Level 7

There great coins. I was lucky got the war nickels in A/U. They look great. They were all nice coins the steel cent. The mercury dimes. Thanks for the information. Keep up the good work.

AC coin$

Level 6

Wooow ! Beautiful coin and great blog W W 2 , Thanks for sharing


Level 5

Very nice reading about coins and the war. Amazing the country was able to get through the war rationing and doing what was needed. Sacrifices were made, especially by the military. Good blog.

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