What’s a Penny Really Worth?

Recently there has been a lot of excitement and discussion about the real value of a penny.  In one article from December of 2011, ABC News(1) talks about the waves of people going out of their way to sort and hoard pennies.  The story mentions one individual who spent upwards of $500.00 on a coin-sorting machine to assist with the process.  Another person made an entire business of sorting and selling them at nearly 50% profit.  This obsession over the smallest unit of our currency got us folks at the American Open Currency Standard thinking, “What is a penny really worth?”

Understanding the Discussion

Every currency has three values, and knowing them is an important prerequisite to joining the penny discussion.

Value #1 – Currency’s Intrinsic Value – a currency’s most basic value, what it is worth intrinsically, or the value of currency as determined by the weight, composition and prices of its material.

Value #2 – Currency’s Value in the Marketplace – the definition of fiat money illustrates its real currency value: marketplace. This value is typically labeled on the unity of currency itself and is also the value at which merchants and business owners accept it (although not necessarily and absolutely by fiat). Simply stated, this value is directly related to what goods and services it gets you in any particular marketplace.

Value #3 – Currency’s Value as a Collectible – this value is determined by things such as the year a particular note or specie was produced and the total number of units issued. A standard $10 Federal Reserve Note would be a good example of the third value if it were much older: take a look at this $10 bill from 1928(2), priced at $1,175.00.

As illustrated, the collectible value can be substantially higher than the intrinsic and market values. In the case of the paper money, such as the $10 bill from 1928, this value is 11,750% of its market value. On the other end of the spectrum, a currency’s intrinsic value is usually substantially lower than the the market value.

Paper money is a good example of why some people think fiat currency is otherwise essentially worthless. A $10 Federal Reserve Note, after all, is nothing but a thin sheet of cotton and linen, right? While many people are quick to suggest that paper money is worthless, it does have some value: you could use it as toilet paper (personal hygiene value) or as a paper airplane (entertainment value) or even to burn as heat (utility value)! As you can see, fiat money is not worthless, but there is a very big gap between the marketplace value ($10 for a $10 Federal Reserve Note) and the intrinsic value of the paper (a fraction of a penny when compared to conventional paper sold by the ream). In fact, if the paper and ink on the federal reserve note is valued at $0.02, the marketplace value is 50,000% greater than the intrinsic value. Though certainly a huge gap, it does mean that paper money is not worthless.

In earlier times, when gold, silver and copper were actually used as currency, there was no gap between the intrinsic and marketplace values. Goods and services were priced by weight of metal. Today, however, the difference between these values is much more significant and in all national fiat currencies, the market value far exceeds the intrinsic value.

The pre-1982 U.S. Penny, however, is a rare exception to the typical relationship between the intrinsic and market values.

What People are Doing

Today’s pennies contain 97.5% zinc and only 2.5% copper, rendering them not much more intrinsically valuable than paper money. But pennies produced in the US between 1909 and 1982 fall in to a different category: at 95% copper and 5% zinc, the metal “melt” value (at current prices) is 247% of its denominational marketplace value of one-cent. For the copper alone, at $3.72 per pound, the intrinsic value is about 2.5-cents. So if you had 100 pre-1982 pennies in a bag with a face value of $1.00, your bag would contain about $2.50 worth of copper. On a larger scale, a $100 face value worth of pre-1982 pennies would net about $250 worth of copper.  Copper is what the penny hoarders really seek.

Criminals are cashing in(3) on spiking copper prices. At the AOCS, we hear stories again and again about how people are stealing copper from air conditioning units and out of pipes in housing and construction sites.  Some are even cutting into live electrical wires(4)! Others are taking a less unlawful position and developing methods of acquiring, sorting and collecting the copper pennies.

Some of these activities are illegal, but all of them are, in our perspective, insane. Let’s take a look at the economics for hoarding pennies.

The Economics of Penny Hoarding

Let’s assume for a moment that collecting and melting pre-82 pennies or treating them in some way for their copper was legal. Would trips to the bank actually yield a high enough number of pre-82’s to make it worth the effort? To answer that question, we went to our local bank and bought a $25.00 box of pennies to see for ourselves. Here are the results:

The $25.00 box of pennies, strangely enough, contained 2,500 coins. Of those, three were Canadian one-cent pieces and one was a five-cent piece from Latvia. 21 pieces were unreadable (covered in unknown growths and substances). Curiously, 42 were from 1982, the year the changeover occurred (some were produced with 95% copper and some were only 2.5%).  So out of our box of 2,500, we could only count 2,433 (97%) of them. Of this 97%, only 438 were pre-1982. That’s 18%. So out of the 2,500 pennies we got from our trip to bank, only about 17.5% were the pre-1982 pennies. Was it worth the effort?

So let’s assume we liked sorting pennies enough to do it for a while…say…the next 10 years.

Each week, for a period of ten years, we make two trips to the bank in the course of our normal lives (no special visits). In each visit, we can reasonably carry two boxes of pennies, each costing $25 (while returning the post-82 from the previous visit). At 2,500 pennies per box, that’s 5,000 pennies per trip. Over 10 years, we’ll make 1,040 trips to the bank yielding 910,000 pre-82 pennies (out of 5,200,000 pennies; 17.5% based on our experiment). We’ve invested $9,100 for these pennies, plus the time, effort and space to hoard them and now we’re ready to melt!

(Editor’s Note: as time goes on, we did not consider that the actual % of pre-82 pennies would decrease as they continue to be removed from circulation by people like you and the banks, which can do it much more efficiently)

Continuing the fairytale, let’s assume for a moment that the laws have changed in our favor and melting pennies is now okay. Let’s also assume that the value of copper, the price of which is largely hinged upon [decreasing] industrial demand, holds its current price of $3.72 per pound. We call around to local scrap yards, since it will be expensive to transport nearly three tons of copper across the country, and find that scrap buyers are paying around 75%-80% of spot for copper. At 2.95 grams of copper per penny, we have a total of 5,919 pounds, which a scrap dealer might be willing to buy for $17,757 ($3.00 per pound).

After 10 years of time, effort, and a few lucky breaks in your favor, our gross profit is $8,657. In the meantime, you tied up $9,100 in capital and barely kept up with inflation.

So what is a penny really worth?

Hoarding pennies is time consuming: the sorting, investment, upkeep, and bulkiness make penny hoarding more labor-intensive and less financially rewarding than what most entrepreneurs seek in a business venture. But to really test the value of a penny, take it to a store and ask the cashier to give you $0.025 or even $0.02 and see if you are successful. You will discover what a penny is really worth…exactly one penny.

If you’re unconvinced and still want to hoard pennies, keep an eye out for a copper penny from 1943(5); you could sell it for as much as $82,500, if not more.  And if you are lazy and one of those people that doesn’t trust banks and refuses to get in to gold or silver (which over the past ten years have produced ‘returns’ far superior to what the penny may be able to do), you just might be better offer collecting U.S. nickels.

Citations:

(1)  http://abcnews.go.com/Business/laws-change-penny-hoarders-cash-thousands-dollars/story?id=15076522#.TxhQw9RSQsI
(2)  https://www.executivecoin.com/p-19567-fr-2003-d-10-1928-c-federal-reserve-ote.aspxgclid=CI7JrfTR5q0CFUFN4AodXmr6tA
(3)  http://gma.yahoo.com/video/news-26797925/copper-prices-soar-thefts-on-the-rise-27718424.html
(4)  http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video?id=4691811
(5)  http://www.usmint.gov/about_the_mint/fun_facts/?action=fun_facts2a

Comments

  1. Nate says

    Your analysis makes several assumptions and has several flaws, some of which serve to support your argument that saving copper pennies is “insane,” and some of which actually work against it.

    1) You based your entire analysis on the percentage of copper pennies you found in a single $25 box, 17.5%. If, as you propose, you were to sort 5,200,000 pennies over the course of ten years, your sample represents only 0.048% of your material pool. Extrapolating data from such a small sample, and applying it to such a long-term analysis, is inaccurate at best, and has brought down entire companies at worst. The percentage of copper pennies in circulation varies geographically and seasonally, among other factors, but averages 20% – 25% nationwide, with some areas as high as 30%.

    2) You discarded the Canadian pennies, but Canadian pennies are copper up to and including 1996, and at 98% copper, they are in fact even more pure than US pennies.

    3) As time goes on, the percentage of copper pennies will indeed decrease. By how much, and how quickly, remains to be seen.

    4) You are assuming that copper prices ten years from now will be the same as they are today. That is a gigantic assumption, and one without any substantive backing. Ten years ago, copper was less than $1 per pound. Today it is nearly $4. You considered inflation for your investment capitol and return, but did not for commodity prices? It is highly unlikely the price of copper will still be $4 in 2022.

    5) Your exit strategy is to sell the copper pennies to a scrap yard, assuming it is even legal at the time. Why? You wouldn’t sell your AOCS copper rounds to a scrap yard, nor do most people sell their 90% silver coins to a refiner. Copper pennies already trade among investors in their current unaltered form, and they will continue to do so. Heck, copper pennies are 95% pure, significantly more pure than 90% silver coins, and 90% silver coins are a staple among investors and major bullion dealers.

    I would not invest 100% of my funds in copper pennies, by any means, but they certainly have a place in balanced metals portfolio, and that is what most people who sort pennies are doing. Most are also invested in gold, silver, other forms of copper, and other base metals. The beauty of copper pennies is that they are a virtually “risk free” investment. At best, ten years from now copper pennies may be trading for 7 – 10 times face value (or more). At worst, they are still worth $0.01. With a solid floor, and a high ceiling, why not give them a shot?

    • says

      Nate,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article and also comment on its
      content. From this standpoint, I believe the article was quite
      successful with my primary goal of beginning an informal discussion
      about copper hoarding.

      You are correct. I did make several assumptions for this article. I was hoping this was made clear by stating this several times in the beginning of my analysis.

      Using one box was indeed a very small sample size, yet for the purpose of the informal nature of the article, properly sufficient. I understand this was an implicit assumption and thought stating so would be unnecessary. If I intended this to be a formal research experiment/paper, obviously this would have warranted much more effort as well as sampling from a higher volume of pennies.

      I ignored Canadian pennies because they are not U.S. currency and they made up a very small percentage of the pennies in the box. The scope of the article was addressing the hoarding of U.S. Pennies for U.S. Pennies.

      Lastly, I wouldn’t sell to a scrap yard for the same reason you wouldn’t. In fact, I wouldn’t sell to an investor at all (why take cash when the metal continues to protect you from inflation?) Most people, however, would. When they do sell, the value of an investment is going to be measured in dollars, which is why I used a scrap yard example (similar to cash for gold and other pawn shop models that many
      people use to cash out of investments quickly and easily).

    • Rand says

      Another purpose of collecting copper coins that neither the article nor the commentators touched on is this: If we ever move to a precious metals cash society, such as might happen if the dollar collapses completely (not outside the realm of possibility these days), then purchases are going to be expressed in units of gold, silver, and copper, not necessarily dollars. If your purchase is costing 1.15 oz silver,what do you use to make small change with? Pennies and copper rounds! Copper pennies are good for making small change just as they are good for making up the difference in a $1.02 purchase nowadays.

    • says

      I take exception to your use of the word pennies ,because pennies do not exist in america , AMERICANS USE CENTS not pennies .
      Further pennies are used in great britian , but not in america , dont believe it check out the mint act
      of I believe 1776 .
      when talking about a quarter would you call it a 25 penny piece ?

      Just my coin lesson of the day PHIL ROLEN

  2. C says

    I’m with Chris, do not collect copper pennies, it’s a hassle, but also with Nate – more for the rest.
    It’s kind of an annoyance that criminal copper thieves are mentioned in every single copper penny article anyone puts together. In Airzona they are I believe legislating to put a smack down on copper thievery.

  3. William says

    To add to the first response, you mention that you tied up $9100 in capital that can not keep up with inflation. Well actually one of the reasons to invest in copper is that it will atleast protect you from inflation because its an industrial commodity.

      • William says

        You said “barely kept up”. Which is not true. Copper as an industrial metal will at least keep up with inflation, not “barely”, and due to demand will most likely beat inflation. A savings account will not keep up with inflation, as the Fed announced that interest rate will probably stay basically zero untill 2014. For someone who does not trust the stock market right now, copper is a great way to protect your money from inflation. Yes it takes time, but look at all the time people waste watching reality TV shows…

  4. says

    You’d be much better off collecting nickels. 100% of them that you get from the bank are worth more than face value and by a larger amount than pre-1982 pennies.

    1946-2012 Nickel
    $0.05
    $0.0589741
    117.94%

      • Tim says

        and the interesting thing is, even if only 18% (as above) are worth 250%, and the other 82% are worth 100% …. then the average value is 127%, which is STILL better than the 118% above, and then you also need to consider that the melt value now, a couple of months later is closer to $0.054, the Nickel is actually 108% of face value…

        But of course, it’s a lot less work….

  5. Anamakee says

    Also, why are you counting your 1982 and later coins as invested capital? Why would you hold onto the 82.5% instead of returning them to the bank and reinvesting?

    Another question, While sorting for copper, wouldn’t it make sence to also sort for rarity?

    A rare penny is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

    • says

      From the article:

      “In each visit, we can reasonably carry two boxes of pennies, each costing $25 (while returning the post-82 from the previous visit).”

      and

      “If you’re unconvinced and still want to hoard pennies, keep an eye out for a copper penny from 1943(5); you could sell it for as much as $82,500, if not more.”

      Thanks for the comment.

      • C M says

        I hate reading but if things are informational then I read. I don’t know why people don’t read and just start spouting things. Good job with the article. Informal may be so but definitely Pro. Thanks for the article. I knew there was a reason that I kept coins. I like to keep older ones. Do you have any cherished coins that you have held on to?

  6. says

    I don’t know why my comment failed to post before, but I noted that nickels are worth 117% of face value right up through 2012, so forget about pennies and just collect nickels!

    • Ted says

      It did post (probably just delayed), so I’ll post my reply again to you.
      Pennies are worth 250% of face value!

      • C M says

        250%. 2.5cents for one Penny. That is a good investment if you have many many Penny. Thanks again for the article. Do you have an article that lists which coins are more valuable compared to others? For example, a 1949 Nickel compared to a 2002 Nickel. That 1943 Penny was a good insert.

  7. bman says

    There are a lot worse ways to spend your time and money then sorting pennies for copper.

    Hey Chris, how much money did you spend playing golf last year and what will your return be in 10 years?

    • says

      You are correct. But as your example suggests, it ultimately comes down to how you like to spend your time. Of course, if you enjoy the task of collecting and sorting the pennies for the pre-82s, then you should do it! But if you don’t enjoy it, then it probably isn’t worth all of the time and effort until you are met with a certain level of return. This level of return, for me and in my opinion in general, just isn’t high enough.

  8. hammerrob says

    Interesting article, thanks for posting it. I have a few comments:

    “you tied up $9,100 in capital”

    Actually, over the course of 10 years you tied up an average of $4,550 in capital.

    Another interesting aspect of the ‘fairytale’ scenario that you don’t mention, is that at the time of investment you can cash in a 50% profit (remember the guy who has a business doing this). You aren’t locked into waiting x-years for the melt ban to be lifted.

    I think the risk-free investment return can’t be beat. The time and effort aspect is what makes penny investing a questionable enterprise.

  9. Aev says

    Also he fails to consider the fact that most people can flip their pennies for a profit then reinvest. I for one have a $1,000 stack that is free and clear. So clearly he has not thought this through.
    I’ll continue to stack and laugh all the way to the bank.

    • says

      From the article,

      “Another person made an entire business of sorting and selling them at nearly 50% profit. This obsession over the smallest unit of our currency got us folks at the American Open Currency Standard thinking, “What is a penny really worth?”

      When I thought this through as I wrote the article, I still was not convinced that hoarding is worth the collecting, sorting, time etc.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • aev says

        What I implied was “rolling the profit” not pulling profit, big difference. If I just say “profit”, which is kind of how you stated it that means I spent the money elsewhere. When you re-invest you build your hoard and before you know it you’ll have tons of FREE pennies.
        I think once you really see how people are doing it you’ll change you mind and refine this article. I’ll also add, no insult taken as most of those who sort for any coins more deeply understand the point of it than this article implies. Let me put it this way. If you sorted with good effort for five years and you did it correctly you would have a good chance of paying for your house in CASH. You have to truely understand it but, once you see the light, well…

  10. Hollis says

    I’ll be 65 next month, what a different 60 years makes. I lived with my grandfather till I was 5. Every Fri. he would bring a hand full of pennies in rolls from the bank when he cashed his check. “We” collected
    Flying Eagle and Indian Head pennies -we were horders I quess. Anyway when I went to college in 1965, the year he retired from the railroad, three rolls of pennies (1.50) paid for my 4 years of college. I’m doing the same for my two grandsons. Sort copper – look for what’s there and save the rest

  11. Robert says

    Nice topic. I like to call the three values
    1) Melt Value
    2) Face Value
    3) Numanistic Value
    The long descriptions are not needed.
    A coin will sell for the highest of these three,
    except, of course, for the US nickel and penny.

  12. Ted says

    Please keep encouraging others NOT to hoard pennies!
    That way there will be more for us who do! Thanks!!!

  13. hags says

    “When I thought this through as I wrote the article, I still was not convinced that hoarding is worth the collecting, sorting, time etc.”

    but, when it does become “worth it”….you’ll be too late to participate….Has this scenerio happened often in your life?

    • says

      IF it actually in fact becomes worth it, to those who had collected and hoarded, I will have no regrets. As I said many times, the potential return is not enough to justify spending hours tediously unwrapping, sorting, wrapping, etc. You have decided it is for you, just as I have decided it is not for me. I see it as an “if” scenario, you see it as a “when” scenario. If your hoarding is rewarded many years from now, I will be happy for you. But just as you chose penny hoarding as your pursuit, I would have equally pursued other opportunities, like many others.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • says

        “the potential return is not enough to justify spending hours tediously unwrapping, sorting, wrapping, etc”

        I don’t do any of these 3 things. Instead, I cut the wrapers open and dump them into a machine that does the sorting for me. I don’t re-wrap them. My bank has a free coin counter that I dump the zinc pennies into and the money is re-deposited into my account.

        None of the time I spend doing these things is wasted either when you consider that I’m listening to eductional audio books or podcasts the entire time.

  14. aev says

    Here is something else to keep in mind. In one form or fashion you are psuhing the aocsmint product.. Why would I ever buy 20, 1oz copper coins for $36 buck when I can pull 32.5678Lbs of copper for $50 bucks? Answer that.

  15. C says

    AEV, I think you got him this time. Still, go easy on the Nate, I think the point has been made, he’s younger, he’s still learning, he’s coming around. Even as Nate dings copper cent collectors, copper is big, it makes the world go around, others invest in copper, many are turning towards copper cents as a cheap, safe portfolio balance, just like all the silver hoards did, the Chinese were using warehouses full of copper as collateral for loans, so many Americans are not in-tune with metals, it’s mostly taken for granted.

  16. rickygee says

    Your honor, this man is truly insane! As proof we now present pictures of his copper penny hoard….

    Hey man. Could this be a “Get Out of Jail Free” card?!

  17. AR says

    The addition of a $500 machine to this activity allows a person who has access to the coins, an ability to do perhaps 100 times per week ($2500 face value) your models scenario. (this presumes you use it about 8 to 10 hours per week, at 325 coins per minute). Yes there are people sorting/hoarding/selling/profiting at this level.
    Please find/cite other machines with a faster more potent pay back for comparison.

  18. says

    Adding to some of the previous objections I want to point out the folly or just tossing all the 82s. About 50% of the 82s are copper. There are three ways to sort them out.

    1. A sorting machine like what you mentioned that uses weight. There are now kits where you can build a machine for under 100 dollars.

    2. Weigh them with an accurate scale.

    3. Ping test, ironically this is something you just wrote about with silver counterfeit detection. Take a 1981 or earlier penny and flick it so it flips in the air and you hear a nice “ping” ringing sound. Do it with an 83 and you hear nothing. So flip your 82s and you get more copper.

    As others have also noted the concept of selling for scrap is not really valid given how many are buying them as bullion right now. I am a huge AOCS Supporter and even worked with you to create the copper survival rounds. So I am a believer in what you are doing I just think this article is a fail. It leaves to much out, it ignores an existing market, it assumes copper will be flat to down over a decade, etc.

    Ironically you also suggest nickles as better than pennies at the end. It is ironic because while yes you don’t have to sort them, it is copper that they derive their largest intrinsic value from not nickle. They are of course nickle jacketed but the core is copper.

    100 dollars of nickels currently have a metal value of 111 dollars.

    100 dollars of copper pennies have a metal value of 248 dollars.

    Personally I think in this case you just didn’t really know the market you were discussing very well. Not to pick on you of course God knows I have fallen flat with such things a few times myself.

    • Rob says

      It was my understanding that it was a 75/25 Cupro-Nickel alloy for nickels.
      Nickel is magnetic, whereas nickels are not, and cupro-nickel alloy is also non-magnetic.

      FURTHERMORE,
      I found this apparent hypocrisy, hit the link to AOCS MINT
      and there it said

      “Copper is swiftly moving from Industrial to Precious (metal status)
      Get it while it’s still affordable”
      then promotes copper rounds that are a much worse deal than sorting pennies!

      While I do not think this cat “Chris Dolland”
      does the ads for AOCS Mint, it was a LOL Moment ;)

  19. Pastor Brian says

    The Latin word “pre” is defined as “before”… hence, the proper phrase would be “pre-1983″, for the higher copper-content coins.

    “Cent”, identifying 1/100th (of a dollar), is the proper word for this coin, of which you are speaking… “penny” is used in the British coinage system.

  20. Chris Beavers says

    I wanted to take a moment to thank Mr. Dolland for this article, if only for bringing this to my attention. Although I am a huge supporter for the AOCS in general, I have always had my reservations about copper as an investment vehicle/sound money. That said, when I read this article, I took the time to look into the copper penny sorting, it became apparent very quickly that it was something that I would definitely be interested in doing.

    I started by looking at what the sorted pre-82 pennies were selling for in bulk on eBay, and I learned very quickly that they sell for basically 1.575 cents/pre-82 penny all day long. I found one seller who had 25 completed auctions averaging $314.11 + shipping for $200 in face value (FV) for his pre-82 coppers over the previous 60 days. After Paypal and eBay fees, he is netting an average of $81.83 profit per $200 FV auction. Additionally, he has a bunch of $100 FV and $300 FV auctions netting about the same margin.

    This is undoubtedly profitable if you you’re prepared to to invest in the necessary equipment and are willing to spend the time screwiing around with it. In my opinion you’d need the right equipment and the times to make it worthwhile because it boils down to whether you’re prepared to do it on a scale big enough to justify the effort.

    Speaking for myself, I have decided to go ahead and buy one of these sorting machines (expecting it tomorrow), and I have the time to fool with this while I get my other work done here at the house. Further, I am not personally interested in hoarding copper as an investment vehicle, but I am for damned sure interested in making enough profit from this to reinvest back into more silver. If I can help others collect/hoard copper at 62.9% of its melt value AND pad my own silver collection in the meantime, I’m in.

    My only real concern was what to do with the post-82 zinc pennies after they were sorted from the copper pre-82s. That concern was alleviated when I was referred to a local bank that would accept the zinc unwrapped in bulk. They will take them, count them, and credit my account a few days later without a fee. Otherwise, I can wrap the zincs and return them anywhere. On a big enough scale, they even make machines that will do the counting and wrapping automatically.

    I was very reluctant to throw my $0.02 in on this topic at first because I really do support the underlying goals of the AOCS in terms of bringing back sound money into the marketplace. That said, my own thought is that saving copper pre-82 pennies or buying them presorted at 60+/- % of the melt value makes a heck of a lot more sense than paying a premium vs. the melt value for pure Cu bars or rounds. Unlike pre-65 junk silver halves, quarters and dimes, pre-82 pennies are readily available all day long for face value. Where it might make sense to buy .999 fine silver vs. 90% junk, I just don’t see how buying .999 copper makes much sense vs. the 95% Cu pennies that are there for the taking all day long at face value.

    I guess my point is that hoarding copper pennies makes sense to me whether it’d done on a $25.00 bank box at time hobby level or with a $500 machine production level. Whether sorting to sell at a profit as I plan to do or for your own personal stash, I think that saving those pennies makes an awful lot of sense. Mr. Dolland and I will probably have to disagree on this one.

  21. Rob says

    Good article, overall.
    Dollar Crash scenario kinda skews everything UP,
    and I kinda thought that would be a no brainer at a site such as this.
    Go Figure

  22. says

    I have been setting aside pre-1982 pennies for fun and now have a 50¢ roll. If I can hand someone 50¢ in exchange for $1, I would be interested in doing that many more times. If they’re moving reliably on eBay then we know there’s a market.

    It’s very easy to build your own machines with today’s off-the-shelf embedded systems. Moving a coin across a magnet, a scale and a camera would be an easy project for someone with enough design experience. You could use a bath to wash the coins whose dates the pattern recognition software had difficulty reading.

  23. says

    Any recommendations on most cost effective and reliable machine for sorting?
    Thanks
    By the way just found 18 out of about 50 pennies pre 82 in my change drawer at my business. Random but interesting 36%.

  24. says

    Twenty dollars worth of the pre 1982 penny bought an ounce of gold. Gold has incresed 90 times and is still under valued. When we return to the Constitutional money, as article 1 section 10 of the Constitution says, only gold and silver are to be legal tender in the US, copper will likely be part of an equal weighted money system, and they could be worth what a dollar is today or more. Either way it is better than investing in paper money or traditional investments.

  25. JD says

    if 1 oz copper round premiums were roughly in line with silver (or gold for that matter), they would be selling for approx 27 cents. Seems to me the motive behind this article is obvious. Nothing wrong with that, I’m just sayin……

  26. jcrowley1985 says

    Keep in mind that Indian Head pennies go for about $1+ each to collectors. And even though they can’t be found in circulation anymore, wheat cents can. Imagine how many wheats you will find in those 10 years and what they will be worth after that time period? Hell, even memorial cents are technicallly discontinued now (2010 was the first year with the “shield” design) so can’t hurt to save them for any potential numismatic value down the road.

  27. Mike says

    for all the people saying it is a hassle they are right to sort pennies by hand is a hassle. BUT (AND THIS A BIG BUT) you can easily make a device (no electronics needed) for around 100-250 dollars and sort 10,000 coins in 3-5 hours so it is worth it 100% if you eliminate the time consuming labor……….

    (do not ask how i made my sorting device i will not share that information because it is extremely simple to make and in all honesty i am greedy and want them for myself)

  28. lisa says

    I have a 1972D aluminum penny with the E missing in E Pluribus Unum. I wipped the copper off it and is in fine condition is it worth anything?

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