Copper cents (pre-1982) worth more than Face Value?

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by rbf, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. rbf

    rbf Member

    I notice the price of copper has been rising a lot in recent years. I'm wondering if copper cents in circulation are now worth more for their metal content than their face value. How much is a copper cent really worth now in melt value? As the price gets higher, do you think people going to start hoarding copper cents like they hoarded silver coins back in the 1960's?
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  3. Troodon

    Troodon Coin Collector

    Copper would have to go WAY up for people to much care. There was specualtion of copper going up significantly in 1982 which is why they took copper out to begin with (most of it... modern pennies are about 2.5% copper by weight). Early on a few people hoarded them in speculation of copper going way up, but nothing much came of it. You can easily find tons of pre 1982 pennies in ciruculation without even trying hard, while pre-1965 quarters and dimes are almost never seen (I've seen them in circulation only on very rare ocassions).

    I'd think copper would have to at least quadruple from its current price for people to take serious interest in hoarding pre-1982 pennies.
  4. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    Copper has tripled in about the last year and copper pennys are worth one
    and a third cents for their metal. Zinc has about doubled in this time and
    the mint is losing money on this coin because of coining costs. It's apparent-
    ly a much different world than in 1974.
  5. Troodon

    Troodon Coin Collector

    Maybe the mint will revisit the aluminum cent idea again...

    But currently what the mint loses in zinc is made up for by clad coinage which has intrinsic value lower than face still. So likely not going to be considered a serious problem for a while.
  6. smithrow1

    smithrow1 New Member

    This site will tell you what each coin is worth in the metal value of the coin.
  7. Cloudsweeper99

    Cloudsweeper99 Treasure Hunter

    Long gone are the days when "coining" money meant that the government was certifying the metal content and purity of the coin. Now there isn't even the attempt to pretend that the coins themselves have any intrinsic value. When the dollar is so depreciated that it becomes difficult to find anything worthless enough to use as coin-money, something is wrong. Welcome to bizzaro-world!
  8. Just Carl

    Just Carl Numismatist

    Copper has been in large demand for a very long time. Enough so that copper wires and tubing is stolen everywhere. The usage for large amounts of copper for electrical wiring, electrical contacts, jacketing for bullets, etc has made it a wanted metal for a long time. That stuff dissapears from construction sites really fast. Copper coins are frequently melted down illigally for the copper for resale as a bulk metal.
  9. OldDan

    OldDan 共和党

    There are those that do this now, but they usually never collect enough volume to make it acturally pay off very much. Think of how many thousands of pounds of this stuff you would need to make it "really" pay.
  10. txwille

    txwille New Member

    Went by an estate sale the other day and noticed they had "wheaties" in small sealed plastic bags going for prices that averaged ten cents per coin. The lady putting on the sale said they had really sold at a fast pace. Guess people were buying them with the hopes that they would find a "rare one". Fat chance, but there's always a maybe.
  11. mmarotta

    mmarotta Perpetual Newbie

    Do the Math

    Off the top of my head, the break point on the old "copper" (French bronze, actually) cents pre-1982 is $1.55 per pound for copper. Right now, copper on COMEX is at $2.05. So, it is technically worthwhile to hoard those old copper cents.

    However... (and it is a big "however") ... these prices are for pure "electrode" copper. The coins would have to be purified. Typically, copper from the mines is purer than coin bronze, and it is still sold to refiners who make it 99% pure and keep the trace elements -- silver mostly; some gold; etc. In fact, most of the silver in the world today comes as a biproduct of copper production.

    Anyway, there is about 25% more than a cent's worth of metal in a pre-1982 cent... before the cost of refining.

    (Incidentally... I found this...
    Copper prices hit record after China trader's loss
    By David Lague International Herald Tribune
    FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2005

    Copper hit a record $4,160 a metric ton on Thursday before falling back slightly on Friday after Chinese state media reported that Liu Qibing, a futures trader based in Shanghai, had amassed futures contracts on the London Metal Exchange betting that prices would go down. Instead, prices have continued to climb sharply this year on strong demand from China's booming economy and some unexpected supply shortfalls from major producers in Chile and the United States.

    Some traders and market analysts have suggested that China may refuse to honor the contracts, which come due on Dec. 21, after Beijing denied that Liu had been working for the government's secretive State Reserves Bureau when he made the trades.

    Industry analysts said it was doubtful that Liu would make such big trades without the approval of his managers. Analysts also said that Liu was a well-known trader who had earned substantial returns for the government.

    In a departure from China's normally secretive metals trading, the State Reserves Bureau has been advertising copper sales from its stockpiles in recent weeks in what appears to be a concerted attempt to depress prices. The price for copper has climbed almost 40 percent in the last 12 months. Senior officials quoted in the state media have suggested that China was prepared to sell a big proportion of its copper stockpile to bring prices under control.

    The size of China's copper reserves, like its holdings of grain and gold, is a state secret. Estimates of the size of its copper reserves vary from 200,000 metric tons to 1.3 million metric tons, but most analysts maintain that it is unlikely that Beijing has accumulated more than 500,000 metric tons.

    China is the biggest consumer of copper ...
    (more) )
  12. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    END the 1 cent coin
  13. mmarotta

    mmarotta Perpetual Newbie

    Use a scale

    See here:

    The markets are for 300-lbs. (150 kg) cathodes and for logs, 30-feet (10m) long and 8-inches (20 cm) in diameter.

    Anyway you accumulate your cents, you will need a lot of them. There might be scrap yard prices for this stuff. The copper that disappears from construction sites ends up in places like that. Back about 30 years ago, I knew a electrician whose basement was full of the stuff he kept from projects. ("Someday, honey, it will be worth a lot." ... "Someday, dear, I'll have my basement back.") :smile
  14. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    A shrinking penny supply is a hedge against inflation ...

    If all the pennies disapeared in circulation, I wonder if the eonomomy would even notice it.

  15. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    "A shrinking penny supply is a hedge against inflation ...

    If all the pennies disapeared in circulation, I wonder if the eonomomy would even notice it."

    The one cent coin is a drain on the economy. Every time one is made the tax-
    payer becomes a little poorer and everytime one is spent both the reciever and
    the spender become poorer. Even if you throw them away as so many people do
    then they just make more and we are the poorer for it.

    There would be an improvement in the economy if the coin were discontinued. It
    would be a large improvement if it also got the dollar coin to circulate.
  16. Cloudsweeper99

    Cloudsweeper99 Treasure Hunter

    The disappearance of the cent would be an obvious inflation warning and signal to the general public that something is going very very wrong.
  17. Troodon

    Troodon Coin Collector


    Seriously though, they'd have to recalibrate banking software, cash registers, etc, to round everything off to the nearest nickel. And nickels will be thought of the same way pennies are now.

    Besides, it would kill a 200+ year tradition. 2 cent and 20 cent coins were a bad idea from the beginning, and the 1/2 cent and 3 cent pieces outlived their usefulness, but the 1 cent will always be needed, especially with fractional tax rates and the like.
  18. Cashmoney

    Cashmoney New Member

    The penny will last....

    The One Cent piece will never go away. It is a necessary evil. Why??? SALES TAX. No matte how you round the price of a good or service, The applied sale tax on a purchase almost always results in getting change that will include pennies. If any penny haters out there want to forgo those few cents every transaction please say so. I'm sure you'd love to just let the merchant have the chage. I'm sure they would appreciate it very much.

    Also, another consideration. Merchants have a tendency to want to get as much as they can for their products as possible. It is much easier to increase the price of an item a cent here, a cent there, than it is to do it by a minimum of 5 cents. Best example: Gasoline. Ever see a price war between two gas stations at the same intersection? Imagine if an owner only had the option to undercut his competitor by 5 cents per gallon?

  19. coinhead63

    coinhead63 Not slabbed yet

    I agree with cloudsweeper. Given the current state of the economy, removal of the cent could cause problems possibly devalueing the dollar in world markets even more. The US dollar is still a benchmark, however shaky it sometimes seems.
  20. BadThad

    BadThad Calibrated for Lincolns

    Things have sure changed in 5 years, the cent melt value is now 2x higher.

    2005: $0.0133 per cent
    2010: $0.0262 per cent
    2015: $0.0524 per cent ???

    I'm hanging on to my 5 gal pail of copper cents!
  21. mecha1166

    mecha1166 Junior Member

    As long as gasoline is xxx.99 cents a gallon, yep, we'll have pennies.
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