Save Your Pennies & Nickels

Just read an interesting article this afternoon about the requests to the US Mint about the legality of melting pennies and nickels down for their raw materials. So you better not get caught:

The new regulations prohibit the melting of 1-cent and 5-cent coins, with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for people convicted of violating the rule.

Bummer. Since switching to using my credit card a few years ago for practically everything… I’ve not had the familiar feeling of jingling change in my pocket. (I do have some in my drawer at work in case I get the need for a Diet Pepsi out of the vending machine… but that’s about it!)

But in case you’re feeling a bit feisty:

A nickel is 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper. The metal in one coin costs 6.99 cents for each 5-cent coin. When the Mint’s cost of producing the coins is added, the total cost for each nickel is 8.34 cents.

Modern pennies have 2.5 percent copper content with zinc making up the rest of the coin. The current copper and zinc in a penny are worth 1.12 cents. The cost of production drives the cost of each penny up to 1.73 cents.

Pennies made before 1982, which are still in circulation, would be even more lucrative to melt down because they contain 95 percent copper and only 5 percent zinc. The metal value in those coins is 2.13 cents per coin, Mint officials said.


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  1. I thought that I would comment on my post… Found this interesting tidbit today…

    Raw material prices in general have skyrocketed in the last five years, sending copper prices to record highs of $4.16 a pound in May. Copper pennies number 154 to a pound. Prices have since come down from that peak but could still trek higher, Velde said.

    Since 1982, the Mint began making copper-coated zinc pennies to prevent metals speculators from taking advantage of lofty base metal prices. Though the penny is losing its importance — it is worth only four seconds of the average American’s work time, assuming a 40-hour workweek — the Mint is making more and more pennies.

    Velde said that since 1982 the Mint has produced 910 pennies for every American. Last year there were 8.23 billion pennies in circulation, according to the Mint.

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