One of the things about "treasure hunting", other than finding interesting stuff and all the possibilities of what you can do with it, is how much you learn along the way. One of my latest finds, provided by my #1 Top Treasure Hunter, otherwise known as my husband, was a bag of 1943 Steel Wheat Pennies.
Just a little history...
The 1943 Steel Cent, also known as the Steel War Penny, or Steelie, was a variety of the US one cent coin that was made out of steel due to war time shortages of copper. However, this new shiny steel coin wasn't much of a crowd pleaser.
The steel penny is the only US coin ever issued that contains no copper at all and the only coin that can be picked up with a magnet. This caused problems in vending machines because the magnets installed to pick up steel slugs or "fake" coins, actually picked up the legitimate steel penny, as well. Also, the brand new minted steel penny was often mistaken for a dime.
After much public outcry, new versions of the penny were minted using salvaged brass shell casings from the troops, with a little added copper. These were used until 1946 when they went back to the prewar version using only copper.
I never really enjoyed history much in school, but as an adult I've learned the importance of understanding events that happened in the past and the significance of those events on our lives today. Even something as small as a penny can illustrate the effects of war, on our resources, and in the daily lives of people.
Having something tangible from the past, something that someone held in their hand, jingled in their pocket, or got stuck in a pop machine, is just a really cool connection to the past and the lives of Americans during World War II. I think of the men having gone off to war, the housewives going to work in the factories, scarves around their heads Rosie the Riveter-style, and can almost hear the Big Band sound of songs like, "In the Mood".
These old steel pennies that my husband found at an auction were all a bit tarnished, so I polished them up a little, making sure to leave some patina to keep that worn,vintage charm.
The necklaces were made using a special coin bezel to hold the penny so that either side can be shown, and finished with a Swarovski pearl.
A remnant from the past, redesigned into something special for today. And now that we know the back story, a great conversation piece as well!
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