Wednesday, February 01, 2012

95% Copper Pennies Give a 50% Return

In April 2011, I started a silver coin hunting project with my daughter.  We ended the project in July 2011 after finding on 5 silver half dollars out of 5000 searched.     However, we decided to start a coin collection by continuing to obtain coin rolls in bulk and searching through them. 

Our first project was collecting on the state quarters.  After going through 1500 quarters we've completed 90% of the book.  (No silver quarters were found :-).  Concurrently, we have been searching through 2500 pennies and have nearly completed the 1959 - 2010 book.   We've only found four wheat back pennies so far.   However, I've just learned that copper pennies have a metal content value greater than face value.

 Pre-1982 pennies (and some 1982 pennies) are 95 % copper and 5% zinc, versus post 1982 pennies that are 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.  The copper in a 95 %copper penny is worth about 1.5 cents, giving the collector a 50% gain.    A great return in today's low interest environment :-)

Based on our experience, an average of 25% of pennies in a roll are copper which makes it easy to find a significant amount.   Of course the challenge is a 50% gain is still only 1.5 cents and making it tough to get rich.   2500 (or $25) copper pennies would still only be worth about $37.50.  However, for now it's inexpensive entertainment to build a coin collection.  And if copper prices fall, the penny will still always be worth at least one cent.

For more on  The Practice of Personal Finance, check back every Wednesday  for a new segment.

This is not financial or coin collecting advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2012 Achievement Catalyst, LLC


Squeezer said...

Unfortunately, under current law it is illegal to melt down pennies, and you can't cross the boarders into Mexico or Canada with more than $5.00 in pennies.

Super Saver said...

Yes, I knew about the laws against melting down pennies and silver coins. And I have no plans to do any melting.

Marianne said...

I also keep copper pennies and all silver coins and have an OK coin collection. It's been an on again off again hobby of mine since I was little. I too purchase rolls of coins every once awhile just to see what I get. It's a fun way to spend an afternoon. With all the talk of getting rid of the penny there may soon come a time when people can melt down pennies so might as well hold on to as many copper ones as possible. :)