The 1943 coin, described as "the most famous error coin in American numismatics", is one of only about 15 made - and it could be worth a fortune.
A penny pressed in 1943 is fetching well over $100,000 at auction.
Heritage Auctions now lists Lutes's authentic 1943 Lincoln cent at a whopping $130,000, which jumps to $156,000 with the added Buyer's Premium.
Intrigued by his new coin, Lutes asked the U.S. Treasury for guidance and was told it had not made any 1943 copper pennies.
And despite a growing number of reported finds, the Mint "steadfastly denied any copper specimens had been struck in 1943", Heritage Auctions wrote. But some bronze blanks caught in the machine and mixed in with the "steelies".
The coin was one of just 20 created by the US Mint in 1943 with a copper-looking surface, Heritage Auctions, who is selling off the coin after Mr Lutes' recent death, explained on its website. They quietly slipped into circulation, to amaze collectors and confound Mint officials for years to come. PCGS CoinFacts, which offers information to all collectors of USA coins, estimates that there are only 10 to 15 such pennies.
When then 16-year-old Lutes was handed the copper cent, he recalled the "steel" cents created in 1943, and was intrigued by the specimen's copper finish, Heritage Auctions stated.
But when Lutes contacted the Ford Motor Company, he was told the rumor was false. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc coated steel". "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc-coated steel". Lutes even tried to get the authenticity of his penny verified by the Treasury Department. He kept it in his collection for decades, but sold it before passing away in September.
"No one really knows what it's going to sell for".
A popular rumor among collectors at the time claimed Henry Ford was offering to trade a new auto for one of the rare "copper" pennies struck in 1943, but Lutes made a decision to just keep the coin after contacting the Ford Motor Company and discovering the offer was nothing but an urban legend.