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RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Penny for your thoughts... Is this a viable way to save?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (29471 points ) September 29th, 2009

Did you know that Lincoln pennies minted between 1909 and 1982 are actually worth 178.87% more than their street cash value? They are 95% copper and worth more melted down.

Check it out at www.coinflation.com

The Coin Melt Value Calculator says that $1000 worth of pennies is actually worth $1788.77. That’s a considerable return for any investment. Pennies minted after 1982 are mostly zinc and practically worthless.

I have little future faith in invisible electronic bank money. Even less in paper dollars. But this penny melting scheme seems viable if I can work out the storage in my garage and justify breaking my back hauling them to the furnace.

I have pennies stashed everywhere and a quick check proved that nearly half of them were before 1982. Is it worth changing dollars into pennies at the bank and returning the newer ones?

What thinks you?

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11 Answers

kevbo's avatar

I guess it still holds true that it takes money to make money.

eponymoushipster's avatar

lurve don’t cost a thing.

dalepetrie's avatar

Melting pennies and nickels became illegal at the end of 2006, you could face 5 years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. This is because the government is well aware that the melt value has begun to exceed the face value (which is why they switched to zinc composition in 1982 in the first place), and does not want to face a coinage shortage.

But even if you were willing to risk a fine and imprisonment, consider how much effort it would take to sort through 100,000 pennies. I would estimate that you would need about 3 seconds per coin just to ascertain the date on average. Not to mention the time spent opening 2,000 penny rolls. And hey, what percentage of pennies are gong to be pre-1982. I might suggest that a LOT of the rolled coins one buys from the bank are actually rolled direclty at the mint that year, you would be very likely, say if you brought $1,000 to the bank and got 2,000 rolls of pennies (if they even HAD that many, they would probably refuse to sell you more than a couple hundred rolls at a time, meaning 10 trips to the bank), you would likely get a whole BUNCH of rolls of brand new 2009 pennies. I’d be willing to bet that at BEST, 20% of the coins you’d get by doing this would be pre 1982. This means you’d have to unroll 10,000 rolls of pennies and sort through half a million pennies, make 50 trips to the bank and you’d have to schlep 400,000 pennies back to the bank to get your $4 grand back for the pennies at par value. So, let’s say 15 minutes per trip to the bank for the first 50 trips, probably a good hour and a half to run the 400,000 pennies back through a coin sorter, and 3 seconds per penny for half a million pennies. So, 25,014 hours to make $788.77. If you’re willing to work for 3 cents an hour, I’ll be more than happy to pay you to do some work around my house…hell, I’ll even pay you in pre 1982 pennies!

thanatos's avatar

How much is your time worth?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dalepetrie

Hhmmmm… So it’s off the table? Better return these coin wrappers then… Thanks!

dalepetrie's avatar

Also don’t forget that some coins are collectable. From the coinflation site if you drill down further, here’s a partial list of values of some more rare specimens:

Year Mintage Numismatic Value Range
1909 72,700,000 $1.50 – $90.00
1909 VDB 27,995,000 $10.00 – $100.00
1909 S 1,825,000 $64.00 – $2,100.00
1909-S VDB 484,000 $710.00 – $10,000.00
1910 146,798,813 $0.30 – $200.00
1910 S 6,045,000 $10.00 – $800.00
1911 101,176,054 $0.30 – $400.00
1911 D 12,672,000 $5.30 – $1400.00
1911 S 4,026,000 $15.00 – $4000.00
1912 68,150,915 $1.50 – $300.00
1912 D 10,411,000 $7.50 – $1900.00
1912 S 4,431,000 $12.00 – $2000.00
1913 76,529,504 $0.80 – $400.00
1913 D 15,804,000 $2.80 – $2200.00
1913 S 6,101,000 $7.80 – $5200.00
1914 75,237,067 $0.50 – $400.00
1914 D 1,193,000 $140.00 – $6500.00
1914 S 4,137,000 $10.00 – $12500.00
1915 29,090,970 $1.30 – $2000.00
1915 D 22,050,000 $1.80 – $1100.00
1915 S 4,833,000 $11.50 – $5000.00
1916 131,832,627 $0.30 – $400.00
1916 D 35,956,000 $1.30 – $2400.00
1916 S 22,510,000 $2.30 – $6400.00
1917 196,429,785 $0.30 – $400.00
1917 D 55,120,000 $1.30 – $2400.00
1917 S 32,620,000 $0.50 – $4400.00
1918 288,104,634 $0.30 – $400.00
1918 D 47,830,000 $1.30 – $3400.00
1918 S 34,680,000 $0.35 – $5700.00
1919 392,021,000 $0.20 – $100.00
1919 D 57,154,000 $1.20 – $2100.00
1919 S 139,760,000 $0.25 – $3050.00
1920 310,165,000 $0.25 – $250.00
1920 D 49,280,000 $1.25 – $2250.00
1920 S 46,220,000 $0.75 – $3400.00
1921 39,157,000 $0.75 – $400.00
1921 S 15,274,000 $1.50 – $4900.00
1922 D 7,160,000 $12.00 – $3000.00
1923 74,723,000 $0.50 – $425.00
1923 S 8,700,000 $2.50 – $13425.00
1924 75,178,000 $0.25 – $350.00
1924 D 2,520,000 $16.00 – $4000.00
1924 S 11,696,000 $1.50 – $10000.00
1925 139,949,000 $0.50 – $90.00
1925 D 22,580,000 $1.10 – $4000.00
1925 S 26,380,000 $0.75 – $6000.00
1926 157,088,000 $0.25 – $50.00
1926 D 28,020,000 $1.25 – $4050.00
1926 S 4,550,000 $5.00 – $48000.00
1927 144,440,000 $0.20 – $70.00
1927 D 27,170,000 $1.25 – $1500.00
1927 S 14,276,000 $1.50 – $5500.00
1928 134,116,000 $0.10 – $90.00
1928 D 31,170,000 $1.10 – $950.00
1928 S 17,266,000 $1.00 – $3600.00
1929 185,262,000 $0.20 – $80.00
1929 D 41,730,000 $0.50 – $490.00
1929 S 50,148,000 $0.50 – $500.00
1930 157,415,000 $0.15 – $30.00
1930 D 40,100,000 $0.25 – $80.00
1930 S 24,286,000 $0.25 – $40.00
1931 19,396,000 $0.50 – $140.00
1931 D 4,480,000 $5.00 – $1050.00
1931 S 866,000 $65.00 – $1000.00
1932 9,062,000 $1.50 – $100.00
1932 D 10,500,000 $1.20 – $80.00
1933 14,360,000 $1.20 – $75.00
1933 D 6,200,000 $3.50 – $100.00
1934 219,080,000 $0.10 – $10.00
1934 D 28,446,000 $0.15 – $20.00
1935 245,388,000 $0.10 – $10.00
1935 D 47,000,000 $0.15 – $16.00
1935 S 38,702,000 $0.15 – $16.00
1955 doubled die unknown $1525.00 – $50000.00
1970 S small date unknown $15.00 – $200.00
1972 doubled die unknown $285.00 – $1000.00

There are others with values exceeding 1.7 cents as well, unless you are a collector, I wouldn’t recommend melting pennies as you may be losing value on the deal.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Good advice Dale.

kevbo's avatar

If you somehow could get into
the coin sorting biz (like Coinstar), then people would be bringing the change to you, and you could make money with that and hedge on pennies. Personally, I would hold them until they are discontinued and then melt them due to the illegalities. At least you know they won’t go below a penny.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

A sorted affair indeed.

dalepetrie's avatar

I would also say, if you truly believe that the US monetary system will crumble some day, what you SHOULD do is this. Instead of making a concerted effort to get x number of pennies, what I would do is first start saving all my pocket change. Next thing would be to educate yourself a little bit about US coinage and how it has changed over the years. For example, you can save yourself a lot of time by knowing that pennies minted between 1909 and 1959 were wheat pennies, and pennies minted before 1909 were Indian Head pennies. As such, if you encounter ANY pre-1959 pennies, SAVE THEM, they are worth more to a collcter than 1.78 cents without question. Yes, some might be worth 2 cents, but some could be worth significantly more. And really only a certified appraiser would be able to tell you exactly what the exact condition of your coin was. And even then you have to realize that a coin dealer will sell these coins retail for more than you’d be able to sell them for yourself either to a dealer or via ebay. But they’re still worth more than 2 cents on average. Nickels, I would use 1945 as a cutoff date, because the basic nickel design didn’t really change between 1938 and 2004, but during the war years of 1942 to 1945, the nickels had a slightly different composition. As such, I tend to save all nickels that are from 1945 or before. Dimes, the basic design is the same since 1946, but up until 1964, dimes were made of mostly silver. As such, I’d save any dimes minted before 1965. Quarters again, same design from 1932 to 1999 (when the state quarters started), but just like the dime, they were silver until 1964. Half dollars a a little different, basically they have been the same since 1964 when Kennedy replaced Ben Franklin on the face. In 1964 they were mostly silver…from 1965 until 1970 they were 40% silver. From 1971 to 1986 and again from 1988 to 2001, they were minted in the current clad versions and those years are not so valuable, but in 1987 and starting in 2002, the mint began only minting half dollars for collectors. So with ½ dollars, I’d save everything to be quite honest, if you get one, keep it. Then of course there’s dollar coins…I’d keep any Ike dollars, basically anything prior to 1979 when they started with the Susan B. Anthony dollars, and to be honest, I think the SBA dollars are probably by and large worth more than face these days, so anything 1982 or before. Beyond that it’s up to you whether to collect coins, like the state quarters or Presidential dollars or the special nickels and pennies they’ve been minting recently, they may go up in value, they may not.

Next thing I would do is to get a coin value book from the library, and with more modern issues of coins not covered here (like post 1959 pennies, post 1945 nickels), etc., write down what specific coins are actually worth significantly more than their face value to collectors. Now, armed with this information, you could probably maybe once every 6 months to a year go through all your loose change that you’ve been saving with your list and these guidelines in hand. And when you have a respectable collection of rare coins, research the value, and go armed with that information to a collector or dealer and try to get a value approaching what you think your collection to be worth. You will make a LOT more money with a lot less effort than by trying to melt coins for metal value.

gussnarp's avatar

I do save all pre-1965 quarters and dimes, they’re mostly silver. Scroll down the coin inflation page and you’ll see they’re a much better investment than pennies. Then again, I’ve been on the lookout for them for years and have only come across a handful in my change.

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