Rare glass penny to be auctioned in Fort Lauderdale Thursday by Terry Spencer
- The Associated Press | January 04, 2017
Faced with a copper shortage
at the beginning of World War II, the U.S. Mint authorized
experiments to make pennies from other metals, plastic and
A Tennessee company made some from glass
and failed so spectacularly that only one known unbroken
penny remains — and it is scheduled to be auctioned Thursday.
Another broken piece is also known to exist.
The Fort Lauderdale-based Heritage Auctions
will conduct in-person and online bidding for the coin that
it hopes will exceed $30,000.
The coin is owned by Roger Burdette, who
wrote a book about World War II experimental coins and purchased
the piece during a small online auction last summer "for
several thousand dollars." He declined to be more specific.
"I knew pretty well what it was from
the illustrations, but I couldn't be sure without examining
it and that wasn't a possibility without buying it,"
Burdette said Tuesday. "These things have been so poorly
After the U.S. entered the war in late 1941,
the military needed most of the nation's copper to make
ammunition and equipment. The U.S. Mint handed out dies
to companies willing to make experimental, uncirculated
pennies as it tried to find a suitable replacement.
The Blue Ridge Glass Co., a Kingsport, Tennessee,
manufacturer that no longer exists, made an unknown number
of pennies from a hardened, yellow-amber glass — Burdette's
survivor looks something like a round cough drop.
Burdette, a retired Potomac Falls, Virginia,
technical researcher, says that according to a report the
company filed with the Mint, the glass coins didn't have
the precise images needed and couldn't be made a uniform
size and weight. The coins also developed sharp edges that
could cut fingers.
He believes the company destroyed or threw
away most of its stock. He said he tried to contact the
previous owner to find out where he got the survivor, but
In 1943, the Mint made pennies from low-grade
steel covered with zinc. Those shiny coins came with their
own problems, including looking too much like a dime. By
1944, the Mint began making copper-based pennies again,
using shell casings collected from military training sites.