They have been called "Wheat Pennies" and "War Time Pennies". Today in 2008 they are making a return in a vengeance.
The impending recession is leading people to dig deep into their savings for payment of ordinary items such as soda, gum, etc.. It is making them reach for their coins, their piggy banks to be exact, and these "War Time Pennies" are being relinquished at an astonishing rate. If someone doesn't look closely enough, at first glance they can be passed off as dimes.
This evening a gentleman came to a local store with a handful of pennies all from 1910 to 1950 bearing the wheat symbol. Amongst the pennies were the infamous tin pennies plated during the war when there was a copper shortage, and the copper was needed for ammunition and casings.
It's ironic during an impending recession people do not think of the value of what they are giving up. Being an avid collector of coins, I quickly made the exchange and pocketed the bills and coins as they turned up one by one. When I arrived home I went to the American Numismatic Association to check the value. To my surprise they were all worth more than a penny making the find a profitable one.
As a collector I was more interested in the elusive 1943 copper penny. This coin one of the few solid copper coins minted prior to the copper shortage and has a value well in excess of $100K. When I arrived home I was pleasantly surprised to realize I would still be on my quest for this coin, but I was thrilled to have yet another piece of coin history.