1943 Lincoln Wheat Cent (Steel). During World War II, copper was needed for manufacturing ammunition and other military equipment, leading to a shortage of the metal for minting cents. In 1943, zinc-coated steel was selected to produce Lincoln Wheat Cents. The following year, the U.S. Mint returned to a copper alloy made from used ammunition casings; thus, 1943 is the only year during which pennies were made of steel. 1943 steel pennies were produced at the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mint locations. Please call or visit our showroom for pricing and availability.