You might want to take a second glance at all those pennies you have lying around. According to Little Things, a few World War II era pennies still in circulation are worth around $85,000.
These particular pennies are so valuable because the government made a mistake when making them. During World War II, copper became harder to find, so pennies got a makeover. In 1943, the government began making them out of stainless steel instead of copper.
That was the only time the government used stainless steel to make pennies. Not only did they rust quickly, but they were incredibly easy to mistake for dimes. In 1944, copper again became the material of choice for pennies until 1982, when they again received a copper overlay.
While stainless steel was the material of choice for pennies in 1943, those making the pennies made a mistake. 40 pennies came out of the plant were still made from copper. Today, only 12 of those pennies still exist. Over the years, some of these coins have surfaced. In 1958, someone sold one for $40,000. But in 2004, a mint-conditioned one sold for $200,000.
If you happen to run across a penny you think might be the golden ticket, there are a couple of ways to test it. First, you should see if a magnet can pick it up. Copper pennies won't attach to a magnet. Second, you should take it to a coin specialist to have it authenticated.
Remember, these pennies are extremely rare, so even ones in poor condition could be worth a fortune. Of all the coins in American history, pennies from the World War II era are the most valuable. Even the steel coins that the government made that year can fetch a pretty penny.
You can find out more about what your old coins are really worth here.