A First-Release 1943 Steel Cent

A recent trip to one of my favorite internet auction services produced a 1943 steel cent in Mint State. Though it is not a rare item by any stretch of the imagination, the coin I now own is housed in a faintly tattered manila paper envelope which reads: “HERE IS / YOUR NEW / WAR-TIME / PENNY / Obtained for you from / the U.S. Treasury, / Washington, D.C., by / PATHFINDER, several / weeks in advance of / general circulation” on 10 lines in red ink. It is machine signed “E.H.” in fancy script. This is the first one of these I have ever seen in 50+ years of collecting, and I immediately purchased it for well under $10. The leading third-party grading services churn out “First Release” and “Early Release” slabs at every turn whenever a new issue is minted. I can’t help but wonder whether I could get this Mint State 1943 “steelie” in a “First Release” holder from one of the grading services? After all, it is a bona-fide early release!   

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