Friday, April 29, 2011

Keep Your Copper Pennies!

This 1973 cent, still found in pocket
change, holds almost 3 cents worth
 of copper at current spot value!
Not too long ago, when I was much younger, copper was going for about 35 or 45 cents per pound at the scrap yard. I gathered up quite a bit of scrap copper over the years for the scrap yards. But now copper is about ten times higher. In fact, as of the day of this post, copper is at US$4.2345. That means one copper penny holds nearly 3 cents worth of copper! Imagine a coin still available in circulation that is actually valued at nearly 3 times face value. Will copper continue to rise? Ten years from now will that copper cent be worth 10 times face value? Or even more?

How much does it cost you to get a 95% pure copper penny? Well, right now if you take the time to look at your pocket change you can find some of them for free, or rather for 1 cent. And if the bad times come and you have to break into the bank you can always spend them right? But I don't think you will want to spend them once you realize their value.

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In 1982 the US Mint finally decided to change the composition of the penny because copper was getting too costly. It had reached the point to where the cost of minting a one cent coin was higher than a penny. The intrinsic metal value of the US penny had exceeded the face value. It reminds us of the situation with silver coins in 1964. In fact copper is right now at the same levels as silver was not too long ago.

Keep in mind that it takes about 115 copper pennies to equal one pund of copper. So if copper is at $1.15 a copper cent would be worth about 1 cent. At $3.45 per pound one penny holds 3 cents worth of metal.

Pennies minted before 1982 (and actually the first ones minted in 1982) were made of 95% copper. US cents are now made to include just 0.05% copper; they are almost entirely zinc with just enough copper to give them the color.

Back in the 1980s at one time I was working at a metal heat treatment place. I saw a guy take two pennies. One was a pre-1982 and the other a newer one. He dipped the older cent into the molten metal (it was on a wire) and brought it back out. It was red hot and when it cooled it was discolored a bit but intact. He did the same with the newer cent. The zinc penny evaporated in a puff of smoke before it even reached the surface of the molten metal!

Now, I am not suggesting that you take your can of copper pennies to the scrap yard to sell them for copper. But think about it. Do you really want to spend a penny at the store that is really worth nearly 3 cents and has the likelihood of getting higher? Not only that but these coins are no longer minted so they will become more rare as time passes, more rare as people realize their true value and set them aside. You can be sure of one thing though; others ARE melting these copper pennies down and just like it was in the 1960s with silver so will it be now with copper. Many of the copper cents will be worth more than just the copper because of collectability.

Say what?! Keep an eye on your pocket change and keep out any 1981 and earlier pennies you find. Don't spend those suckers! Put them in a jar or a sock somewhere and save them!

More good stuff about copper and copper pennies:

Save Those Copper Pennies!

How to Hoard Copper Pennies

Kitco - Spot Copper Historical Charts and Graphs

Current Primary and Scrap Metal Prices

I like these old vintage ads so thought I would include one here too:


  1. Good idea, I have been doing that myself for awhile now. Whenever I am by the bank I usually get a handful of penny rolls and go through them in spare time. Its hard to say for sure but on average I usually find 10 or 15 good pennies in a roll but sometimes nearly an entire roll is copper or zinc

  2. Hey Steve, thanks for the comment. I think most people underestimate this opportunity and I predict there will be many people who will say things like "Why, I remember when we use to see those all the time." and "Oh how I wish I would have saved all those..."

    I believe this will be significant and we shouldnt underestimate it because we are thinking "oh, its just a penny"

  3. I have been saving copper pennies for a few months. I find one occasionally but mostly they are the newer ones.

  4. I predict that a pre-82 penny in decent condition (not necessarily mint state) will easily sell for from 50 cents to $1.00 each in just a few years. Even if they were only selling for 25 cents it would be 25X face value!

  5. Well, now we are seeing rolls of average circulated pre 82 copper pennies being listed on eBay. I saw some that actually sold for $5 roll including shipping. Not a fortune but just another step in the rising value of these coppers.

    Save your coppers! (Or you can give them to me for a zinc cent)

  6. Nice Info! There are many ways to scrap the metals and earn some amount of money through it.

    Sell Scrap Copper | Lead Scrap Prices