Lutes, who had the coin authenticated in 1958 by expert Walter Breen during a New England Numismatic Association convention in Worcester, died in September of previous year and the coin was given to Heritage to auction off.
In 1947, MA teenager Don Lutes Jr, who was just 16 at the time, was given a rare 1943 Lincoln penny in his change after buying his lunch from the school cafeteria, Fox News reports.
So amongst the millions of "steel" pennies were a tiny number of "copper" cents that managed to quietly enter circulation.
The 1943 coin, described as "the most famous error coin in American numismatics", is one of only about 15 made - and it could be worth a fortune. The U.S Mint rejected claims that the 1943 Lincoln copper cents existed.
So, in 1943, Lincoln pennies were made of zinc-coated steel to preserve copper. Lutes even tried to get the authenticity of his penny verified by the Treasury Department. Buoyed by the Henry Ford rumor, he contacted the auto firm, but they informed him it was false. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steal". "This lot represents a true "once in a lifetime" opportunity". The penny was created after "a small number of bronze planchets was caught in the trap doors of the mobile tote bins used to feed blanks into the Mint's coin presses at the end of 1942", according to auction house.
Don Lutes Jr. kept the 1943 copper penny he stumbled upon in his high school cafeteria seven decades ago in a safe behind a wall in his MA home.
Its unclear how much it will sell for, but a similar coin struck at the Denver Mint fetched a record $1.7 million when it was auctioned off in 2010. When they became dislodged, they were printed and circulated with the millions of steel copies.