Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Less Tinkle in U.S. Change?

I dropped some American coins on the desk the other day, and was surprised at the almost nonmetallic sound they made.  It made me wonder what the intrinsic metal value of U.S. coins is these days.  As you peruse the following table from Coinflation.com, remember that the intrinsic value of paper money is zero, and that Canada is abolishing the penny because it is too expensive to make:

United States Circulating Coinage Intrinsic Value Table

This table does not reflect U.S. Mint production costs, but the pure base metal value that composes the coin. Calculations are based on coin weight, metal composition, and base metal prices. The "Metal % of Denomination" column represents the percentage of metal that comprises the denomination's purchasing power. A coin that is over 100% in this category has more base metal value than purchasing power.

Table based on April 13, 2012 closing base metal prices:
Copper $3.6520/lb  0.0891Zinc $0.9016/lb  0.0198Nickel $8.2523/lb  0.1522

DescriptionDenominationMetal ValueMetal % of Denomination
Lincoln Copper Cent Price1909-1982 Cent (95% copper) *


Jefferson Nickel Price1946-2012 Nickel


Lincoln Zinc Cent Value1982-2012 Cent (97.5% zinc) *


Roosevelt Dime Value1965-2012 Dime


Washington Quarter Value1965-2012 Quarter


Kennedy Half Dollar Value1971-2012 Half Dollar


Ike Dollar Value1971-1978 Eisenhower Dollar


Susan B. Anthony Dollar Value1979-1981, 1999 SBA Dollar


Sacajawea Dollar Value2000-2012 Sacagawea Dollar


Presidential Dollar Value2007-2012 Presidential Dollar



* The U.S. Mint issued both compositions in 1982; they can be differentiated by weight (3.11 g copper, 2.5 g zinc). The 1943 steel cent is not included in the table above. Also, a tin alloy is used in one cent pieces from 1864 until 1962, but that value isn't significant enough to calculate.

Base Metal Coin Calculator

Coin values not included above:  Jefferson Nickel1938-1942 Jefferson Nickel,  Buffalo Nickel1913-1938 Buffalo Nickel,  Indian Cent1864-1909 Indian Cent