How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they useful?

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Brainless's picture
Brainless
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How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they useful?

I received a very very large amount of coins from a family member. They are all types that are still in circulation although the newer version are made of different materials starting from end 2008 (steel and 2%copper). (I wonder why... :) )

I am trying to find out the copper content of these coins. They are the smallest denominated coins.

The coin is 1.9 grams and is made of 92% copper, 6 % aluminum and 2% nickel.

Is this normally by weight or volume? I hope it is just 1.9 x 0.92 = 1.748 grams, or do i have to look at atomic weights/volumes and more...

I am used to metric and the price of copper is in pounds. So hopefully i have the right numbers to calculate with. Today (3 januari) it is 4.4570 per pound. Converting that to Kg would be 9.826. This would give the result: one gram = 0.009826 US$. This coin would then be 1.748 x 0.009826 = 0.01717 US$. Is this the correct way to calculate?

When comparing to the face value of the coin it is a little more than double.

I am sure the price for copper in coins is lower then the ready made product, is there a price for that on the market?

Any suggestion how i can use this heavy 'treasure'? 

I though about melting, another thought is to just leave it like it is because the coins are familiar and keeping them in the coin form might be better for later. Would buying a lot more of these coins be a smart thing to do? My feeling is that when copper prices stay at higher levels it would be interesting and with a build in intrinsic value of at least the face value the risks are very minimal. Trading paper for coins would seem the smart thing to do, but will copper be a good store of value and not to difficult to trade when economies are in turmoil . I already have enough gold and silver, started to accumulated it a few years ago so i have no need to buy more of those. Land, shelter and food are secured as we live in a small community which produces so much food it is ending up in the compost or being sold. Still never ready and solar/wind and better water reserves is the next thing on the list.

If inflation happens i will profit from the higher copper prices. If deflation happens it is still some form of cash although buying a bread with hundred coins seems a little difficult. :)

Your opinions please.

 

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

You can find out the content online pretty easily by checking the dates and getting the copper content. Be aware that it is illegal to melt down U.S. coins...

 

CS

jrf29's picture
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

Clearly these are not U.S. coins, as the U.S. doesn't use aluminum in any of its coins.  I know that Thailand makes a 1.9 gram coin using the metal composition mentioned.  It should have a light copper appearence, due to the aluminum and nickel content.

In metal alloys, percentages always refer to weight.  Therefore, each of these bronze coins will be 1.748 grams of copper, 0.114g Al, 0.38g. Ni.  The pound/gram conversion factor is 0.00220462262, so (price of copper per pound) x 0.002205 x 1.748 = 1.7 cents worth of copper per coin.  Yes, you are calculating correctly.

You are correct that the price for this type of bronze will be significantly lower than the price for pure copper, because there is a limited market for a 92% Cu, 6% Al, 2% Ni alloy.  You can do some reseach and see whether there are any commercial uses for this type of bronze, other than coinage.

I would also be inclined against melting these coins (or ever melting any copper coin, for that matter).  The whole idea of a mint is that the mint stamp identifies and guarantees the metal composition of the coin: people see one of these coins and they immediately know its weight and metal content.  If you melt it what do you get?  A blob of yellowish metal that could be anything, and would have to be assayed to determine its metal composition.

What would I do with the coins?  Well, I'd probably keep them.  Would I buy more?  No, unless I could first determine that there is a market for this alloy.

Your best bet is pre-1982 copper U.S. pennies.  These are composed of a very simple brass alloy:  95% copper, 5% zinc, and are worth almost 3 cents in todays metal prices.  That's what I call a return on investment!  (Pennies minted after mid-1982 are 97.5% zinc and are worth about 1/2 cent in metal).

It is against Tresury regulations to melt U.S. coins, but again, you would never want to melt coins unless you are an end user:  the mint mark identifies and guarantees the weight and the metal content, which is what would allow them to flow in trade.

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yoshhash
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...
jrf29 wrote:

What would I do with the coins?  Well, I'd probably keep them.  Would I buy more?  No, unless I could first determine that there is a market for this alloy.

I don't understand this statement.

Does the fact that they are pennies (and the logic for keeping them as coins), and the illegality of melting them make them unusable?  Does this mean that if copper prices shoot up, they would not consider melting/purifying/using the copper contained within?

I've also wondered about the value of pennies- in Canada, we are getting close to phasing them out.

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Re: How to calculate silver content in dimes.

Is it true that US dimes minted at or before 1964 are pure silver?

Like .999 or mostly silver with some nickel? Anyone know?

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Re: How to calculate silver content in dimes.
Johnny Oxygen wrote:

Is it true that US dimes minted at or before 1964 are pure silver?

They are 90% silver, 10% copper.  Hence the term 90% for junk silver coins.

Coinflation is the site you want.  They show metal content of coins and value at current metal prices: http://www.coinflation.com/

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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

To take this in a slightly different direction, with apologize to the OP, for those of us with limited investing means, is there value to saving modern pennies and nickels in hopes that the metal value will make them worth having saved?  I think inflation is going to do them in as currency, but...nickels?  Sounds like pre-1982 pennies are the ones to save...I already comb through my spare change just to see if any old silver dimes made it through.  Is saving nickels, and perhaps pennies, a waste of time or something to consider doing?  (Sounds like modern dimes are stainless steel, so not as worthwhile as nickels...)  What do you think?

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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

Amanda,

I know in 1964 my parents saved many rolls of old silver coins and I wish they would have saved more.  I think in todays environment it is a no-brainer to start saving pre-1982 pennies and all nickels if you have the time and space.  There really is no downside and can be done slowly over time, with very low costs of entry. 

I doubt anyone is going to get rich this way but every little bit helps.

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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

According to the www.coinflation.com site the metal content of current US coins is as follows:

Penny (1909-1982) 95% copper and 5% zinc

Nickel (1946-2011) 75% copper and 25%zinc

Dime (1965-2011) 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel

Quarter (1965-2011) 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel

So given the high copper content of all of these wouldn't it make sense to save them all? Unless the issue is only whether the metal content exceeds face value, in which case it only makes sense to save the pennies and nickels.

 

 

capesurvivor's picture
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

I guess the question is whether "junk copper" will be as feasible to sell in the future as "junk silver" coins are now. You'd probably need a lot more of them.

Jeez, even I didn't know there's NO nickel in a nickel.

 

SG

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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

Amanda,

I think that until we get to an all-out collapse, it is not really worth your time going through coins (in terms of time invested/reward).  It might be different if you have access to huge collections- something you already have, you work as a cashier, etc.

However, I will say it is absolutely worth your time to learn what an old silver quarter looks like- if you know, they really stand out.  As a kid, I used to occasionally run across them, and in my early twenties, I was working as a cashier and a guy came in and bought a pack of cigarettes with a handful of old ugly dull quarters- probably stolen, obviously not a coincidence.  that alone was worth quite a haul.

I suppose it's not very likely that you will just run across silver quarters, but it also is not much time invested.  Sorry if I'm stating the obvious.

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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

The old English penny of the 20th century, prior to decimalisation in 1971, was a bronze coin of 95.5% copper weighing 1/3 oz. 240 of these pennies worth 1 GBP contain 76.4 oz of copper. Since copper is $4.30 per pound this amount is worth $20.53 or 12.86 GBP. In other words paper has fallen to less than 8% of these lowly pennies since 1971.

FWIW, these are the most valuable copper coins I know in terms of current value/face.

yoshhash's picture
yoshhash
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a trader who literally bought 20 million nickels

http://steadfastfinances.com/blog/2011/02/02/long-the-nickel-michael-lew...

or for canadians:

http://watch.thecomedynetwork.ca/#clip410180

 

interesting clip on a trader who literally bought 20 million nickels based on its metal content.

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
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Re: a trader who literally bought 20 million nickels

I've never liked Colbert, a loudmotuh, IMHO, who doesn't let his smarter guests talk.

 

I'll bet you can legally smelt 20 million U.S. nickels in a foreign country (if you get them there), say,..Canada.

 

SG

SteveW's picture
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

For Canadians, Michael Lewis interview with the nickel comment at the end.

http://watch.thecomedynetwork.ca/#clip410183

Brainless's picture
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

One of the reasons i asked if it is worth saving them is because i have a large amount of coins AND i have access to lots and lots more, hundreds of thousands are easily available for face value. Some craftsman that make jewelry use the coins in quantities of a few kilo per month. I found it a telling sign that the government changed the composition of the coins end of 2008.

 

 

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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

 

I'll bet you can legally smelt 20 million U.S. nickels in a foreign country (if you get them there), say,..Canada.

 

 

  And you could have done the same with junk silver in 1970..

 But...  the wisdom of doing so.. when you already have a recognisable known weight and purity coin AND a guaranteed legal tender fiat value as well... escapes me.

 For anyone of very modest means... some of the government minted coins are one of the very best means of wealth preservation....

 Zero markup.

 Liquid as hell.

 And an option to excercise the better of:

 Intrinsic value. (free market price)

 Fiat value. - (legal/financial system price)

( there's also the slim possibility that in the event of a re-valuation 10 old dollars for one new .. the coinage will be left as it is.. giving you an instant 10* appreciation in fiat value... )

 The notes... less so... mind with cotton on lock limit up these days.. that may change for the lowest denominations... *grin* !!

 The electrons in the banking system... hmm.. not so much.

cf. Parable of the widows mite...

  the joke is..  now it's true.. certainly in intrinsic value terms.

 Aside - does anyone have any information about the performance of COINAGE during the Weimar hyperinflation ?  Don't think I've ever heard it mentioned... but I assume it did rather better than the notes...!

 http://worldcoingallery.com/countries/Germany_all3.html

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_papiermark

 

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

True.

I'm not smelting anything, just wondering out loud about the thread originator's ideas.

Pre-1964 silver would have been a good thing to have stocked up on.

Just not on the same page at that point.

CS

SPAM_KC8690's picture
SPAM_KC8690
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

To Brainless-

There's a website that will do all kinds of weight conversions for you. It is CureZone.com/conversions.asp

For the metal content, weight, and worth of your coins, check out a site called CoinFlation.com

Certain coins, because of the value of the metals they are made from, have intrinsic values that are greater than their face value. For example; Quarters minted before 1965 are worth more than $5 each because of their silver content. And, surprisingly, currently circulating nickels are worth more than 7 cents based on the value of the copper and nickel they are made with. Check out CoinFlation.com to find the intrinsic  value of all U.S. coins. As for the numismatic (i.e.: collectable) value, I can't help you on that one but it is probably something you should look into before getting rid of any of your coins.

Any of your coins that have intrinsic values greater than their face value are definitely worth hanging onto as hedges against the tsunami of inflation headed our way.

 

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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...

SteveW,

Just tried to watch your clip and it said; "Not Available in Your Region". My region is the US (specifically New Orleans). Do you think we have the Mexican drug cartel bringing drugs into the U.S. and then smuggling nickels into Canada for smelting. They can launder money that way and make a 20% bonus....(snicker, snicker)

SteveW's picture
SteveW
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Re: How to calculate copper content of coins, and are they ...
ljhaines wrote:

SteveW,

Just tried to watch your clip and it said; "Not Available in Your Region". My region is the US (specifically New Orleans). Do you think we have the Mexican drug cartel bringing drugs into the U.S. and then smuggling nickels into Canada for smelting. They can launder money that way and make a 20% bonus....(snicker, snicker)

The clip was reported in:

which is viewable from your region.

It might be better to wait until our $ gets to US$1.50 then we can slip the US nickels into circulation and make a small profit in excess of the nickel content without the bother of melting them down. Wink

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