United States Coins Melt Values

As an entrepreneur it’s important to find the inefficiencies around us at all times in order to profit from them. About a year ago I did some research in to coin melt value and came up with some very exciting conclusions. The following details the melt values of the various United States coins. In just a few years the spot price for many of the precious metals found in some United States coins has risen dramatically. Since January 2004 to the present the spot price for copper has risen from $1.00 a pound to $3.05 a pound. Similarly the spot price for silver has also risen dramatically. During the same time frame silver spot prices have traveled from $6.00 an ounce to a little over $19.50 an ounce.

Considering that in theory some of the United States minted coins that contain these precious metals are still in circulation, I began to collect a fairly large volume of coins in order to exploit this inefficiency in the coins face value versus the spot price. I’m happy to say that my efforts were not in vain and that there is some money to be made if you are willing to sort through coins in large volumes.

United States Coins Containing Precious Metals

Of the main coins in circulation there are two types of precious metals to look for. In pennies pre-dating 1983 the composition of the coin is largely copper. Similarly in Quarters, Dimes, and some Nickels a significant amount of the composition is silver making them far more valuable than face value, though these are much harder to find in my experiences

Copper Pennies

Fortunately for us, a good percentage of the pennies in circulation today still contain silver content, most notably the Copper Lincoln Cent. The most recently minted pennies containing 95% copper are dated between 1959-1982. These pennies have the face of Abraham Lincoln on the front of the coin and the back sports an image of the Lincoln Memorial. Pennies dated prior to 1959 in the years ranging between 1909-1958 are called “wheat ears” or simply “wheat pennies”. Both Pennies are composed of 95% copper and 5% zinc. They are said to weigh 3.11 grams though with age, wear, and dirt they can vary slightly in weight now. However keep in mind that the 1943 steel cent does not have copper/zinc composition and is instead composed of steel being that it was during WWII.

At the time of this writing the zinc price per pound along with the copper price per pound rates these pennies to have a melt value of $0.00220462262, or over double the actual face value of the penny itself.

Surprisingly, you can still find these pennies fairly often. When receiving change it wouldn’t be absurd to think you might get 1 or 2 pennies composed of 95% copper. This makes penny collecting a fantastic way to build a portion of your portfolio in precious metals. Because copper is widely used in the manufacturing of goods, it’s believed that the price of copper will continue to rise making these pennies only more valuable in the future.

Quarters Containing Silver

Unlike copper pennies, collecting quarters that have a silver content is much more difficult. Though rightly so, the price of silver has shown a dramatic increase over the past decade and continues to rise as fiat currencies continue to be undermined by the Finance Industry’s malpractices. i.imgur.com_aagjcm8.jpg It’s very unlikely that you’ll find Quarters that date prior to 1932 in change or even when coin roll hunting. So I will only mention the Quarters that you might find here. Silver Quarters dated between the years of 1932 -1964 have an imprint of George Washington’s face on the front and a Bald Eagle on the back. They are said to weigh 6.25 grams but again this can vary slightly depending on wear, and large amounts of dirt particles that attach themselves to some coins.

The Quarters matching the date mentioned above contain silver content of 90% and 10% copper content. The current silver price per ounce plus the current copper price per pound rates these Quarters to have a melt value of $3.5849684025. An amazing approximately 193% more than the face value of the coin.

That being said, there is a huge incentive to hoard the Quarters that are dated within the years of 1932 and 1964. It’s much more common to see people sorting through Quarters in huge volumes with specialized sorting machines making these incredibly difficult to coin roll hunt for without the proper resources. However I have found a couple of Quarters with silver content in the past by hunting through only a couple dozen rolls, so it is still possible with a bit of luck.

However with the difficulty to find these quarters being so high, it makes it economically improbable to make a living sorting through Quarters as a day job, making this more of a hobby for your spare time than anything else. With the silver prices rising so dramatically over the last decade, searching for silver quarters in your spare time is a good way to add silver to your precious metals portfolio.

Dimes Containing Silver

The Silver Dimes minted between the years of 1946-1964 contain 90% silver content and 10% copper content similar to that of the silver Quarters. These dimes as we have all noticed are significantly smaller than Quarters and weigh only 2.5 grams each. However there is still a significant amount of silver content for such a small coin to make this worth looking for. i.imgur.com_2vu1lnp.jpg At the current copper price per pound along with the current silver price per ounce the precious metals content of these dimes is rated to have a melt value of $1.4332638692. As you can see this is still a fantastic return for finding such a small coin filled with precious metals content.

These Dimes are incredibly hard to find in my experience. Though you can pull out much larger volumes of coins from the bank as opposed to Quarters, the dates are so tiny and difficult to discern that it makes it much more time consuming to sort through rolls of Dimes. Additionally, I am confident in saying that in the past I have searched through at least $100 of Dimes (made up of rolls $5 thats 20 rolls) and have yet to find any Dimes at all with silver content. This could potentially be a result of the presence of other coin roll hunters in my area sorting through Dimes with equipment made for this task, so do take my experience with a grain of salt.

Finding Dimes dating prior to 1946 is also a treat, though selling them solely for the content of their metals is not recommended. Because Dimes pre-dating 1946 are so rare now, it’s easy to find coin collectors willing to pay high prices for Mercury Dimes depending on their condition.

Nickels Containing Silver

Of the coins I have sorted through Silver Nickels have been by far the least satisfying. Not only are they incredibly hard to find because of the silver content, but the only Nickels that contain any silver were made only between the years of 1942-1945. The silver Jefferson Nickel shows an image of Thomas Jefferson on the face side, and Monticello, the Virginia mountaintop home of Thomas Jefferson. i.imgur.com_isxo7ox.jpg These Nickels are often referred to as “War Nickels” were minted with silver content due to the rationing that took place during World War II. Nickel, being highly sought after for use in armor plating, lead to these Nickels being composed of 35% Silver, 56% Copper, and 9% Manganese. The Nickels weigh 5 grams each and when taking in to consideration the silver price per ounce, copper price per pound, and manganese price per ton these Nickels are rated to have a melt value of $1.1315071174.

Because of the short year range of production of these Nickels, the high silver hoarding incentive, and tiny date imprinted on the relatively small coin, it’s incredibly difficult to find a wartime Nickel. In my experience I searched through quite a few rolls of Nickels and have not once been able to find a War Nickel in the bunch. Though again this could have been the effect of previous sorting from other individuals, I wouldn’t recommend investing too much time in to these efforts.

Half Dollars Containing Silver

Though the Silver Half Dollar is not widely used today it is still possible to head to the bank and ask the teller to withdraw a portion of your balance in these coins. Personally I don’t have much experience hunting through these coins because I can imagine the large content of silver has driven high incentive to hoard for some time now. i.imgur.com_pwjf49k.jpg The Silver Kennedy Half Dollar was minted between the years of 1965-1970. The coins themselves weighed a whopping 11.5 grams and were composed of 40% Silver and 60% Copper. The front of the coin sports John F. Kennedy’s face in commemoration of his passing, and on the back a bald eagle with several other symbols of American history.

With such a large coin, 40% silver is a significant amount. It’s silver content alone is worth $2.9238. When calculating for the silver price per ounce and the copper price per pound, these coins end up being rated at a melt value of $2.9699903972.

Even more rare is the 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar. This half dollar is composed of 90% silver and 10% copper and weighs in even higher at 12.5 grams per coin. Considering such a high silver content, these coins must be fairly obsolete in circulation today. This specific year half dollar is rated to have a melt value of $7.1554689691

Aside from the Kennedy Half Dollar there are still several other half dollars that contain silver. Though unlikely, it may still be possible to find a half dollar between two prior year ranges of 1916-1947 and 1948-1963. These Half Dollars are called the Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollar and the Franklin Silver Half Dollar respectively. Again these have a significantly higher silver content than the common Kennedy Silver Half Dollars and have a melt value price of approximately $7.1615.

Again I do want to state that these coins are highly sought after and are probably very rare to find in circulation. I personally have not found and half dollars with silver content myself, though I do enjoy trying to search through a couple of rolls from time to time to test my luck.

Final Thoughts

Coin roll hunting seems to have grown in popularity over the past decade as I have seen many forums and online communities popping up about the topic. It’s safe to say that one day it will be nearly impossible to find any American coins with precious metals content in circulation. That being said, I do enjoy taking the chance to search through coin rolls of various denominations in hopes that I’ll come across a coin with metal content priced above the face value of the coin.

If you are considering expanding on your portfolio, or just looking to make a few bucks selling rare coins to precious metals dealers there is still an opportunity to do so. Though increasingly difficult, now is an exciting time in history where we are given the chance to search through large volumes of coins at no risk to us. If the coins you withdrew from the bank have no precious metals content, you can always return them to that very bank and receive their face value!

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