Archive for January, 2013

The Truth Behind the Penny


Often when the word ‘copper’ is mentioned a mental picture of a penny comes to mind.  I hate to burst your bubble but, pennies haven’t been made out of real copper since 1962. Even then the penny wasn’t fully made out of copper, it was also made with 5% zinc and tin. Nowadays, copper is no longer used for pennies due to the realization that it costs more to make a penny than its worth in US currency. Today’s pennies are made up of 97.5% zinc. Pretty wild!

There's quite a difference between today's pennies and this 1937 penny.

There’s quite a difference between today’s pennies and this 1937 penny.

There is an estimated 140 billion total US pennies in circulation today. Of that incredibly outrageous number, even if only 10%  of those pennies happen to be from the copper making era, that’s still a hefty 14 billion copper pennies. If you do that math, that’s roughly $380 million in copper profit. Hold your horses friends, although the pennies pre 1962 were primarily copper, it’s not legal to scrap them. In 1974, The Treasury Head made it illegal to melt down currency in order to gain a larger profit. Read it and weep: New rules outlaw melting pennies, nickels for profit.

At Upstate Metal Recycling, we can understand the frustration caused by the inability to scrap these coins, but we can also understand the hassle if we were actually able to collect them.  When taking your items to  a scrap yard the items must be weighed in order to determine authenticity and the price.  When brining in bags/boxes/jars of pennies, many things need to be considered.  The pennies would need to be sifted through to ensure nothing was included in the mix (helping to increase the weight of the change), but also each penny would need to be individually examined to ensure that all were made no later than 1962. Even the thought is tedious!

That’s not to say that one day the ban will be lifted, but for now the penny will just remain a mere collector’s hobby.

At Upstate Metal Recycling we take great pride in taking your legally collected scrap metal. If you’re interested in recycling your own scrap, bring it to Upstate! We’ll recycle your scrap while giving you the best price in exchange! Upstate Metal Recycling will take your steel, aluminum, brass, copper, electric wire, cars, shingles, etc. You can even ‘Like’ them on Facebook for a coupon on your next visit to the yard.