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amakarevic 07-23-2008 01:40 PM

is a US penny in scrap worth more than US$0.01 ?
i am sure it is illegal to destroy currency of any sort or value but i heard a rumor that people take US pennies to scrap yards to recycle them and they get more value for it than US$0.01. what would happened if the scrap yard got busted ?

i am almost 100% sure this is just a rumor. otherwise people would be exchanging 1000s of $ in banks for pennies and taking them to scrap yards all day long ... perfect and very easy arbitrage ...

nap 07-23-2008 04:42 PM

a real quick look on the net tells me a pre '82 penny wieghts 3.1 grams. If it is 100% copper (not sure it is 100% but at least it isn;t the post '82 copper plated zinc pennies).

at 3.1 grams, my little calculator tells me it would take about 148 pennies for a pound. The last time I checked any prices #1 copper was buying at 3.05/pound so that would mean you could sell $1.48 worth of pennies for $3.05.

that is a $1.57 profit.

So, 100 pounds of pennies would profit you $157.00. 100 pounds of pennies would be 14800 pennies, if my calculations are correct.

Oh, I have since found that a pre 82 penny is 95% copper and 5% zinc. Not sure what grade copper price you would get for that.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-23-2008 11:02 PM

Yeah, but if you go to a bank and buy a roll of pennies, they will all be 2008 vintage pennies. It is the banks that distribute currency for your government, so if you go to a bank and ask for pennies, you'll get brand spanking new ones.

I suppose you could head down to the local landfill sites and check the backs of the couches there for pre-1982 pennies.

The other option would be to keep a sharp eye out for people that collect pennies in large 5 gallon glass carboys and see if you can figure out a way to separate the carboy from it's owner.

And, there's always the option of finding some way to manipulate the space-time continuum...

nap 07-24-2008 12:50 AM


Originally Posted by Nestor_Kelebay (Post 142426)
I suppose you could head down to the local landfill sites and check the backs of the couches there for pre-1982 pennies.



true. newer pennies are 95% or so zinc.

Charles 07-24-2008 10:51 AM

I actually sort my change and save my older pennies that are made out of copper. Interestingly enough, my friends sometimes call me a penny pincher and I'll bet if they knew that I would never hear the end of it.

It is important to note though that melting down pennies or nickels is illegal and it is also illegal to export them for melting. While the scrap yards in my area do look the other way in some instances, they would not accept pennies or any form of currency.

Kap 07-24-2008 11:35 AM

Penny less than sum of parts

By Rob Amen
Sunday, January 29, 2006

Your two cents might be worth more than you think. That's the case if you're holding pennies minted before 1982.

For just the second time since 1793, when the U.S. government authorized the minting of one-cent coins, a penny is worth more than one cent because the price of copper has skyrocketed to historic highs. It barely eclipsed that threshold -- and only briefly -- in the late 1980s.

But it has surged well beyond that recently, thanks in part to strong demand from China, where manufacturers have been stockpiling the metal before the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins today.

Today's pennies are copper-plated and mostly zinc. But from 1864 to mid-1982, the coin was 95 percent copper and weighed 3.1 grams. With copper selling for $2.23 a pound, a pre-1982 penny actually is worth about 1.45 cents -- 45 percent above face value -- based on its copper content.

Someone with a pile of pennies gathering dust in a jar could melt them down and sell the copper for a tidy profit. It's perfectly legal. "If you have money, and it belongs to you, you can do pretty much whatever you want with it," said Mike White, a spokesman for the U.S. Mint.

But good luck finding a willing smelter.

"If someone had 500 one-cent pieces, and they're worth $7, they probably can't do anything with them. If they knocked on a refinery door, they would probably tell them to go away," said Dave Bowers of Wolfeboro, N.H., a 1960 graduate of Penn State University who has written 40 books on coins.

Asarco, a Tucson, Ariz., refining company specializing in copper, does not melt down
pennies, a spokeswoman said.

Several scrap-metal dealers in Pittsburgh said they don't melt coins, either.
Doing so is only worthwhile when copper sells on the commodities exchanges for at least $1.55 a pound, the threshold at which a pre-1982 penny surpasses its face value. Copper has remained above that price since July and peaked Dec. 27 at $2.28 a pound.

The only other time since 1900 that a penny crossed the $1.55 barrier was in December 1988 and the following month, according to information provided by the New York Mercantile Exchange and Daniel Edelstein, a copper commodity specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Copper's market price fluctuated then and eventually dropped below $1.55 at the end of January 1989, according to NYMEX.

Twice before -- in 1857 and 1982 -- the rising price of copper prompted the U.S. government to modify the penny's composition.

From 1795 to 1857, pennies were pure copper and weighed nearly 11 grams, Bowers said. The government made wholesale changes in 1857, when it approved a smaller version weighing about 4.5 grams, he said.

The 11-gram pennies, even at copper's 1900 price of about 16 cents a pound, still would not have been worth more than one cent in their day. Copper prices before 1900 were unavailable.

White said he was unsure how many pre-1982 pennies are in circulation today.
The Mint does not recall coins, he said, although some are withdrawn because they become damaged or worn.

The average life span for a coin is 30 years, White said.
"A penny has a different life span," he said. "They get sort of parked in cookie jars and piggy banks."

Coinstar, a Bellevue, Wash.-based company whose machines count coins in exchange for paper money, estimated that $10.5 billion in coins sit idly in American homes at any given time.

That's about $99 per home, said George White, a Coinstar spokesman.
That makes for a whole lot of cents.

And, in a way, sense.
After all, a penny saved is more than a penny earned.

Copper's currency

Copper is one of the oldest metals ever used and was an important material in the
development of human civilization.

It has become a major industrial metal, ranking third after iron and aluminum in terms of quantities consumed.

It is a better conductor of heat and electricity than any other metal except silver.

Electrical applications such as power transmission and generation, building wiring and telecommunications, account for about three-quarters of total copper use.

Copper turns green when it reacts with atmospheric pollutants and corrodes.

The Statute of Liberty contains 31 tons of copper.

Chile is the world's leading copper producer.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of Energy and National Park Service

Kap 07-24-2008 10:57 PM

That article was from Jan. 2006. In Dec. 2006, they passed a law making it illegal to melt down nickels and pennies for scrap, and limited how much you could take out of the country/export.

And here's an interesating link-tracking the value of coins:

JohnDIY 08-18-2008 06:48 AM

They have this problem in India. A rupee is worth more melted down and made into a razor blade than it's cash value. So many people are melting them down that there are running out of them!

MrShadetree0222 10-12-2008 01:49 AM

Just wanted to comment that as an uneducated individual i find this topic to be very interesting!

7echo 10-25-2008 09:11 PM

I know this is an old thread, but...

We (taxpayers) pay more to make a penny than it is worth. If I remember correctly, in late 2007 it cost 1.6 cent to make a penny, and over 9 cent to make a nickel.

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