Copper Pennies FAQ
Copper Penny Investing Questions and Answers
A simple questions-and-answers style breakdown on pennies.
Why does your website say copper pennies as opposed to just pennies?
- Because not all pennies are made of the same metal composition. The most valuable pennies from an intrinsic metal standpoint are the copper pennies. We sort out the pennies you do not want from the pennies you do want.
You sort pennies?
- Yes. The majority of pennies are not copper pennies. We sort the less valuable pennies out, and keep the more valuable pennies which we provide to you. This is the basis of Gresham’s law.
Wait. What is Gresham’s law?
- Gresham’s law states that when government compulsorily overvalues one money and undervalues another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood into circulation.
The more popular catchphrase of this law states ‘bad money drives good money out of circulation; the superior currency will tend to be hoarded and the inferior will thus dominate the circulation’ – zinc pennies are the inferior currency and thus are the ‘bad money’ dominating circulation. Copper pennies are the superior currency and are the ‘good money’ being hoarded. Therefore, zinc pennies drive copper pennies out of circulation. This is why if you went to the bank today and asked for a dollar in pennies, the vast majority would be zinc pennies.
So this means there will be less and less copper pennies over time. But if copper price keeps rising, then demand for copper pennies should increase, taking more out of circulation. Are there enough copper pennies to go around?
- For now, yes. But not for long. The supply of copper pennies has greatly diminished over time, even though demand for copper pennies continues to dramatically rise. It is basic supply and demand principles. As supply decreases, the value goes up. As demand increases, the value goes up. Except in the case of the copper penny, both supply is decreasing and demand is increasing. Copper pennies are not made anymore so there is no possibility of increasing the total amount in circulation.
What years were the copper pennies made?
- U.S. copper pennies are 1982 and prior. Approximately halfway through the year 1982, the U.S. mint changed the composition from the copper penny to the penny composition that we know today.
What is the metal composition of a copper penny?
- 95% copper, 5% zinc. The U.S. pennies known as “wheat cents” may also contain some tin, but the quantity is too insignificant to calculate – Source.
What is the metal composition of the penny after 1982?
- 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper.
How many pounds of copper pennies does it take to equal a face value of $100?
- Approximately 68 pounds equals $100 in face value of copper pennies. Read more on pennies per pound.
What does the face value of copper pennies mean?
- Simply put, one cent equals one cent. The face value is the value the coin claims to be. Just like how a one dollar bill may be made of paper, but printed on it states it is valued at one dollar. Therefore, a one dollar bill has a one dollar face value. A quarter has a face value of 25 cents. A ten dollar bill has a face value of ten dollars. Etc.
So the reason to buy copper pennies is because of the actual physical metal used to make the copper penny is worth more than the face value?
- Yes. Exactly. The copper metal is worth more than the face value of the penny. A lot more.
Can I melt my copper pennies?
- No. It is illegal to melt the U.S. penny at this time. We do not support any actions, direct or indirect, that result in illegal activities.
It is illegal to melt U.S. pennies? Is there a link to the laws that state that?
- Yes, please feel welcome to visit our Disclaimer Page for a link to these laws. This FAQ is important, however, the laws are of the utmost importance to understand.
So it is illegal to melt U.S. coins?
- Good question. It is illegal to melt the U.S. penny and the U.S. nickel. But that’s it. The others are fair game. Why is this? Because why melt a dime, quarter, half, or dollar coin when the face value outweighs the metal value? Sure, there are still a few silver coins out there worth more in metal, but the amount of silver to non-silver ratio is so low, it wouldn’t have much of an effect on coin in circulation. The penny and nickel, however, would greatly effect circulation if people melted them. Therefore, the laws surrounding making it illegal to melt the penny and nickel.
Why is it illegal to melt the penny and nickel?
- The U.S. Government knows that the metal value outweighs the face value of the copper penny and the nickel. Therefore, if it were legal, no one would be selling them as coin collections to be hoarded for metal content. The people selling would simply be melting them down. This would take literally billions of coins out of circulations. So many pennies and nickels would be removed that the U.S. government would have to start minting billions of coins to replace the ones taken out of circulation which is very expensive to do. Eventually, inflation will result in the penny (and later on, the nickel) from being eliminated as a currency and removed from circulation. But due to political lobbying, it hasn’t happened yet. Don’t worry though, basic economic and monetary principles clearly show that it has to happen. The latest fiscal policies of the U.S. government combined with current and future global economic climate will bring that date along faster and faster for it to be legal to melt down the penny.
Okay. So then I should wait until it is legal to melt pennies before I buy copper pennies, right?
- No. Think of it this way. If it was legal to melt pennies then everyone would do it. Why would we sell to you when we could melt them and get spot price? The only reason there is a market available to you is because it is currently illegal to melt them. Once they can be melted, you will not be able to buy them at such great pricing. That is why we strongly encourage you to Buy Copper Pennies now, before it is quite literally too late. The greater the cost to make new pennies, the sooner it will be that the penny will be removed as legal tender.
How much does it cost to make a penny?
- A lot. You can read all about it on our Cost to Make a Penny page.
Have other countries stopped making their lowest coin denominations like the penny?
- Yes. Many have. You can read all about it on our Coin Elimination by Country page.
Wow. A lot of countries have gotten rid of their versions of the penny, the nickel, and even up to the quarter! Why has the United States not done this yet?
- The United States has had legislation pass to Congress to achieve these goals, however lobbyists have stopped the legislation from passing to date. You can read all about it on our U.S. Penny Legislation page.
What is the ‘genie in a bottle’ image in the lower right corner of all of your web pages?
- We are a member of the American Numismatic Association and that is their member symbol. We feel it is important to support organizations that are based on educating the public. The ANA is a nonprofit organization that specifically works to achieve that goal. Feel welcome to visit them by clicking here.
Still have questions?
- Explore our website or please feel welcome to go to our Contact Us page and ask anything. No question to basic or complicated!