Penny Year Compositions


What is the Penny Made of Today

The new penny is made of a metal composition of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. Furthermore, the current penny is often referred to as a “Zincoln”. This merges the word zinc with Lincoln since pennies today are called Lincoln cents.

Current model of the Lincoln cent has the Union shield on the reverse (tail). In addition, it is called a Lincoln Union Shield cent. The last year pennies were made of copper was 1982. However, the penny composition material used to make a penny has changed over the years. Compositions of the penny are listed below:


Penny Composition

Penny Metal Composition by Year:

1793-1837 – Pure copper.

1837-1857 – Bronze (95% copper, 5% mixture of tin and zinc).

1857-1863 – 88% copper, 12% nickel.

1864-1962 – 95% copper, 5% zinc (Trace amounts of tin).*

1962-part1982 – 95% copper, 5% zinc (No tin).

part1982-present – 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper (Copper plated: Inclusive of bicentennial 2009 cent and Union Shield cent).**
*the exception 1943 – pure steel, zinc-coated with rare 1943 error copper minted pennies.
**exception 1983 – rare 1983 error copper minted pennies.

The composition materials in pennies are primarily zinc. Zinc prices have risen as of late. Inflation is rising as well. Consumers using the penny may find less in circulation due to rising costs to mint the coin.

In addition, penny composition has been speculated to change. The Coin Modernization Act of 2010 researched this possibility where the results were inconclusive. Furthermore, countries such as Canada have eliminated their penny giving rise to potential elimination in the United States.

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