Can I Scrap Copper Pennies? NO!

can I scrap pennies?Not only is it illegal to scrap copper pennies or any US currency but it can come with a costly fine and a visit to prison. Many times scrap yards are asked by people if they take pennies or other coins for scrap. While occasionally scrap yards “accept” coins as scrap, it is completely illegal in the US and both parties can be arrested for it.

According to the United States Mint, melting coins down is illegal and can land you with a $10,000 fine and/or 5 years in prison. For the effort and the turnaround on the scrap value, scrapping pennies (or any other coins) is stupid and a waste of time.


What’s In Coins?

Now that we have determined that you cannot scrap pennies or any other currency in the US, so now it’s time to discover what kind of materials and metals can be found inside of coins, so you don’t have to find out the illegal way.

  • Pennies – Pennies today are made from a copper plated zinc. The pennies now cost less to manufacture because they weigh 20% less than the previous pennies made from 95% copper and 5% zinc. Pennies predated 1981 were made from 100% copper.
  • Nickels – They are made from a cupro-nickel clad made up of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
  • Dimes & Quarters – Also made from a cupro-nickel clad, dimes and quarters also have a copper core with an outer layer made up of 75% copper and 25% nickel alloy.


Many people try to collect predated pennies from 1981 in hopes to “melt” them down to create a copper bar for scrap. However trustworthy scrap yards will see through these attempts and will deny those who have copper bars or trying to scrap pennies. Often not only for legal reasons will scrap yards not buy them, but they have no where to sell them.Depending on the commodities marketing sometimes the metals in a penny are worth more than a penny even zinc. Some coins scrap yards may buy are silver coins for anywhere from 3 to 15 times their face value.

Fun Facts About Coins

scrapping copper pennies
  • You may have wondered why some coins like, quarters and dimes have grooves on the edges of the coins, where nickels and pennies do not. The reason is because they are there to prevent counterfeiting with the higher value coins. These coins were once produced with precious metals like gold and silver and the grooves were there to also prevent fraudulent use of filing down the edges to recover the precious metals.
  • On the penny, Lincoln’s portrait faces the right whereas the other coins the portraits are facing the left. When President Theodore Roosevelt was choosing the design of the coins, he really liked the sculpture done by Victor David Brenner of Lincoln and decided to use that design on the penny.
  • The average lifespan of a coin is 25 years.
  • When coins are mutated or so worn from use, they are sent to the mint. From there they are melted down into their metals and sent to a fabricator to be reused in producing new coins. If you have mutated coins you can redeem them for their full value at any Federal Reserve Bank.


Related Articles:

Sources:
United States Mint Limits Exportation & Melting of Coins
United States Mint – Coins & Medals
History – Why Do Coins Have Ridges?
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