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Metal Content of Modern United States Coins The weights and metal compositions of the various United States

coins have changed many times since the first half cent and cent were minted in 1793. Often, these changes have been due to variations in availability and/or costs of the metals used in their production, especially during times of war (e.g., the Civil War 1861 - 1865 and World War II 1939 - 1945). As demand for these metals continues to change, their values and therefore their usage in modern coins change as well. Coins can be thought of as having three values. Face Value is the stated value of the coin as stamped on the coin. Numismatic Value is the value of the coin to a collector, the value usually being based on its rarity. Intrinsic Value is the value of the underlying metals used to produce the coin. Before coins were produced in early America the barter system was the primary method to obtain goods and services. In 1792 the United States Congress passed the first coinage act authorizing the United States Mint to issue coins. These first coins were produced from gold, silver and copper. The value of these coins was directly related to the value of the metals used to make them. A ten dollar gold eagle weighed 17.5 grams of 22 kt. gold, ten dollars worth at that time. A one dollar silver coin was made from 27 grams of an alloy of 89.24% silver which was valued at one dollar. It is interesting to note that the gold/silver ratio at that time was 1:15. Thus it would take fifteen ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold. So the face value of the coin was equal to the intrinsic value. This system was destined to fail. While the price of gold remained stable at $19.39 per troy ounce (31.1034768 grams) from 1792 till 1814, it rose to $21.79 that year and to $22.16 the following year before returning to $19.39. But demand for gold could not be satisfied by the supply and eventually the price began to rise again. The result was that the intrinsic value of coins began to exceed their face value. Eventually this would lead to the elimination of gold and silver and the reduction of copper in our current circulating coinage. While many older coins are worth more for their numismatic value than their intrinsic value, the same is not necessarily true of coins produced in the last hundred years or so. There are of coarse exceptions to this, usually due to the rarity of certain coins. In some cases it is because of low production numbers at certain mints during certain years. In other cases it is due to various minting errors. Whatever the cause, the numismatic value is greater than the value of the metals used to produce the coins, but these are the exceptions. While this document provides some information on the older coins, the focus is on coins produced over the last hundred years or so. Silver and copper have been significant components of many of these coins and ever increasing metal values have pushed the intrinsic values above their face values, in some cases, many times above their face values. In the case of most coins with silver content, the intrinsic value exceeds both the face value and the numismatic value.

Since the focus of this document is on coins produced over the last hundred years or so, the following US coins are not included YEARS MINTED 1793 1857 1864 1873 1851 1873 1865-1889 1794 1873 1875 1878 DENOMINATION Half-cent Two-cent Silver Three-cent Nickel Three-cent Half-dime Twenty-cent

Gold coins are not included either as production of the original coins ran from 1795 to 1933. Beginning in 1984 the United States Mint resumed production of gold coins, but they have sold based on their intrinsic or numismatic values, not their face values. CENT The cent has probably gone through more modifications over the years than any other US coin. The early cents, known as Large cents, were produced from 1793 through 1857 and ranged in diameter from 26.5 mm to 29 mm (more than an inch in diameter). These Large cents were all 100% copper. Small cents were introduced in 1856 and were reduced in diameter to 19 mm, the size of current Lincoln cents. YEARS 1793 1793 1795 1795 1796 1796 1807 1808 1814 1816 1839 1839 1857 1856 1858 1859 1864 1864 1909 1909 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1962 1962 1982 1982 current DESIGN Flowing Hair Liberty Cap Liberty Cap Draped Bust Classic Head Coronet Liberty Braided Liberty Flying Eagle Indian Head Indian Head Lincoln Lincoln Lincoln Lincoln Lincoln Lincoln WEIGHT 13.48 g 13.48 g 10.89 g 10.89 g 10.89 g 10.89 g 10.89 g 4.67 g 4.67 g 3.11 g 3.11 g 2.69 g 3.11 g 3.11 g 3.11 g 2.50 g COMPOSITION 100% copper 100% copper 100% copper 100% copper 100% copper 100% copper 100% copper 88% copper, 12% nickel 88% copper, 12% nickel 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc zinc-coated steel 95% copper, 5% zinc 95% copper, 5% tin and zinc 95% copper, 5% zinc 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper

In 1982, cents were minted on both the old and new compositions, so both are common. There were some cents minted in 1983 and 1984 on older 95% copper planchets. These may have some value to collectors. Cents minted from 1983 through current are composed of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper (these pennies actually have a core that is 99.2% zinc and 0.8% copper that is plated with 100% copper). At the time of this writing (February, 2012), the metal value of pennies minted from 1864 1982 (except the 1943 steel cent) is approximately $0.025 (two and a half times their face value). But before you decide to make your fortune by melting down your old pennies and selling them for their metal content, be aware that on December 14, 2006 the U S Mint announced a new regulation making it illegal to melt down U S cents and nickels. There have been similar bans in the past, e.g., the silver melting ban of 1967 1969 and the penny melting ban of 1974 1978. Only time will tell if this ban will be permanent. NICKEL The term nickel has been used since 1857, though not for the coin with which we are familiar today. The 1856 1858 Flying Eagle cent and the 1859 1864 Indian Head cent were known as nickels due to their composition of 12% nickel and 88% copper. In 1865 the three-cent piece was introduced with a composition of 25% nickel and 75% copper and became the new nickel of the time. One year later in 1866 the Shield nickel was introduced as a five-cent coin. Since that time the term nickel has applied to the five-cent coin like those in current circulation. Since 1866, the design of the nickel has changed, but the weight has always been 5 grams and its composition was only changed once as a temporary measure during World War II. Nickel and copper were needed for the war effort so the less strategically important metals, silver and manganese, were substituted. YEARS 1866 1883 1883 1913 1913 1938 1938 1942 1942 1945 1946 current DESIGN Shield Liberty Head V Indian Head / Buffalo Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson WEIGHT 5g 5g 5g 5g 5g 5g COMPOSITION 25% nickel, 75% copper 25% nickel, 75% copper 25% nickel, 75% copper 25% nickel, 75% copper 56% copper, 35% silver, 9% manganese 25% nickel, 75% copper

Note: there is an unofficial variant of a 1944 nickel known as a Henning nickel which is easily detected. This was a counterfeit coin produced in 1954 by a man named Francis LeRoy Henning. These nickels were quickly spotted as Mr. Henning had not included the large mint mark over Monticellos dome that was common to all the silver bearing wartime nickels. He is also known to have minted nickels dated 1939, 1946, 1947, possibly 1953, and perhaps one other date. The nickels were minted from the same metal alloy as genuine nickels.

At the time of this writing, the common nickel made of cupronickel is worth $0.0578, slightly over its face value. See the note above regarding the illegality of melting pennies and nickels. Wartime nickels, with their 35% silver content are worth about $1.92 each. DIME The first dimes minted for circulation were produced in 1796. The design, weight, and composition of the coin have been changed as summarized below. YEARS 1796 1807 1809 1837 1837 1853 1853 1873 1873 1891 1892 1916 1916 1945 1946 1964 1965 current DESIGN Draped Bust Capped Bust Seated Liberty Seated Liberty Seated Liberty Barber Winged Liberty Head / Mercury Roosevelt Roosevelt WEIGHT 2.70 g 2.70 g 2.67 g 2.49 g 2.50 g 2.50 g 2.50 g 2.50 g 2.27 g COMPOSITION 89.24% silver, 10.76% copper 89.24% silver, 10.76% copper 90% silver, 10% copper 90% silver, 10% copper 90% silver, 10% copper 90% silver, 10% copper 90% silver, 10% copper 90% silver, 10% copper 91.67% copper, 8.33% nickel*

* In 1965, due to the increasing cost of silver, the US Mint changed the composition of its silver coins to a clad material. The clad coins have outer layers made on an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel bonded to a pure copper core. The overall composition is 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel. In 1992 the United States Mint resumed production of coins with pre-1965 compositions of 90% silver and 10% copper. These coins were minted for inclusion in Proof Sets and were not intended for use in general circulation. All Proof coins are minted in San Francisco and bear the S mint mark. The current intrinsic value of the 1837 - 1964 dimes is about $2.47 each. QUARTER As with dimes, the first quarters were minted in 1796. YEARS 1796, 1804 1807 1815 1828, 1831 1838 1838 1853 1853 1873 1873 1891 1892 1916 1916 1930 1932 1964 1965 current DESIGN Draped Bust Capped Bust Seated Liberty Seated Liberty Seated Liberty Barber Standing Liberty Washington Washington WEIGHT 6.74 g 6.74 g 6.68 g 6.22 g 6.25 g 6.25 g 6.25 g 6.25 g 5.67 g COMPOSITION 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 91.67% copper, 8.33% nickel*

* In 1965, due to the increasing cost of silver, the US Mint changed the composition of its silver coins to a clad material. The clad coins have outer layers made on an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel bonded to a pure copper core. The overall composition is 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel. There were some special Bicentennial coins minted in 1975 1976. They were all dated 1776 1976 with the S mint mark. They were silver clad and sold in 3 coin Mint Sets and Proof Sets that contained a silver clad Washington quarter, Kennedy half dollar and Eisenhower dollar. The quarters weighed 5.75 grams. Silver clad coins have outer layers of 80% silver and 20% copper bonded to an inner core of 20.9% silver and 79.1% copper. Their overall composition is 40% silver and 60% copper. This silver clad material had been used previously in the minting of the 1965 1970 40% silver Kennedy half dollars. In 1992 the United States Mint resumed production of coins with pre-1965 compositions of 90% silver and 10% copper. These coins were minted for inclusion in Proof Sets and were not intended for use in general circulation. All of the silver Proof coins have been minted at the San Francisco meant, so they all bear the S mint mark. The intrinsic value of quarters produced from 1873 1964 is about $6.19. HALF DOLLAR The half dollar coin has been minted since 1794, two years earlier than the dime and quarter. YEARS 1794 1795 1796 1797, 1801 - 1807 1807 1836 1836 1839 1839 1853 1853 1873 1873 1891 1892 1915 1916 1947 1948 1963 1964 1965 1970 1971 current DESIGN Flowing Hair Draped Bust Capped Bust Capped Bust Seated Liberty Seated Liberty Seated Liberty Barber Walking Liberty Franklin Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy WEIGHT 13.48 g 13.48 g 13.48 g 13.36 g 13.36 g 12.44 g 12.50 g 12.50 g 12.50 g 12.50 g 12.50 g 11.50 g 11.34 g COMPOSITION 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 40% silver, 60% copper* 91.67% copper, 8.33% nickel**

* silver clad coins have outer layers of 80% silver and 20% copper bonded to an inner core of 20.9% silver and 79.1% copper. Their overall composition is 40% silver and 60% copper. ** In 1965, due to the increasing cost of silver, the US Mint changed the composition of its silver coins to a clad material. The clad coins have outer layers made on an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel bonded to a pure copper core. The overall composition is 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel.

There were some special Bicentennial coins minted in 1975 1976. They were all dated 1776 1976 with the S mint mark. They were silver clad and sold in 3 coin Mint Sets and Proof Sets that contained a silver clad Washington quarter, Kennedy half dollar and Eisenhower dollar. The half dollars weighed 11.50 grams. Silver clad coins have outer layers of 80% silver and 20% copper bonded to an inner core of 20.9% silver and 79.1% copper. Their overall composition is 40% silver and 60% copper. In 1992 the United States Mint resumed production of coins with pre-1965 compositions of 90% silver and 10% copper. These coins were minted for inclusion in Proof Sets and were not intended for use in general circulation. All of the silver Proof coins have been minted at the San Francisco meant, so they all bear the S mint mark. The intrinsic value of half dollars produced from 1892 1964 is about $12.39. The 40% Kennedy half dollars minted from 1965 1970 are worth about $5.06. DOLLAR Dollars, like half dollars, have been minted since 1794. YEARS 1794 1795 1795 1804 1836 1839 1840 1873 1873 1885 1878 1904, 1921 1921 1928, 1934 - 1935 1971 1976 1971 1978 1979 1981, 1999 2000 current 2007 2016? DESIGN Flowing Hair Draped Bust Gobrecht Seated Liberty Trade Dollar Morgan Peace Eisenhower Eisenhower Susan B. Anthony Sacagawea / Native American Presidential WEIGHT 26.96 g 26.96 g 26.73 g 26.73 g 27.22 g 26.73 g 26.73 g 24.59 g 22.68 g 8.1 g 8.1 g 8.1 g COMPOSITION 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 90% Silver, 10% Copper 40% silver, 60% copper* 91.67% copper, 8.33% nickel** 91.67% copper, 8.33% nickel** copper, zinc, manganese, nickel*** copper, zinc, manganese, nickel***

* silver clad coins have outer layers of 80% silver and 20% copper bonded to an inner core of 20.9% silver and 79.1% copper. Their overall composition is 40% silver and 60% copper. ** In 1965, due to the increasing cost of silver, the US Mint changed the composition of its silver coins to a clad material. The clad coins have outer layers made on an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel

bonded to a pure copper core. The overall composition is 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel. *** The Sacagawea dollar is a clad coin. The outer layers are a specially designed manganese brass alloy that provides the unique golden color. The outer layers are bonded to a pure copper core. The outer layers are composed of 77% copper, 12% zinc, 7% manganese and 4% nickel. The overall composition is 88.5% copper, 6.0% zinc, 3.5% manganese and 2.0% nickel. The Sacagawea dollar has evolved into a series of Native American dollars. The 2000 2008 dollars featured a flying eagle on the coins reverse. Beginning with the 2009 dollar, the reverse is being changed each year to celebrate an important contribution of Native Americans. This series is scheduled to continue through at least 2016. There is also a Presidential dollar series in current production. These dollars are made from the same material as the Sacagawea dollars. Four presidents are honored each year. The US Mints current production schedule only includes presidents through Gerald Ford, to be minted in 2016. It is not known whether this series will be continued for the 39th (Carter) through 44th (Obama) presidents and beyond. There were some special Bicentennial coins minted in 1975 1976. They were all dated 1776 1976 with the S mint mark. They were silver clad and sold in 3 coin Mint Sets and Proof Sets that contained a silver clad Washington quarter, Kennedy half dollar and Eisenhower dollar. The dollars weighed 24.59 grams. Silver clad coins have outer layers of 80% silver and 20% copper bonded to an inner core of 20.9% silver and 79.1% copper. Their overall composition is 40% silver and 60% copper. The intrinsic value of the Morgan & Peace dollars is currently about $26.51 each. The silver clad Eisenhower dollars are worth about $10.84. Clearly, the simple system of minting coins with face values equal to their intrinsic values no longer works in our modern world. Constantly evolving technology drives changes in demand for raw materials. Old supplies are depleted and new sources discovered. Other factors such as political issues contribute to metal markets where prices change on a daily basis. Even our current cent, re-alloyed in 1982 to a 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper composition, is worth over a half cent in metal content. The nickels intrinsic value is over face value at $0.0584 cents, and they are still being produced. The chart below shows the metal composition and current metal value of the coins being produced for general circulation by the United States Mint. COIN FACE VALUE INTRINSIC VALUE INTRINSIC VALUE % FACE VALUE 57.33% 116.93% 21.68% 21.69% 21.69% 06.62% 06.62%

Cent Nickel Dime Quarter Half dollar Sacagawea dollar Presidential dollar

$ 0.01 0.05 0.10 0.25 0.50 1.00 1.00

$ 0.0057 0.0584 0.0216 0.0542 0.1084 0.0062 0.0062

This table is based on values at the beginning of February 2012, with copper at $3.85 / lb., zinc at $0.96 / lb., nickel at $9.65 / lb., and manganese at $1.40 / lb.

The information contained in this document is believed to be correct, however, this information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon to be accurate. The reader is advised to verify any information presented herein before using it for any purpose. FrugalRefiner February 6, 2012