How to make money collecting copper pennies

Many investors who buy gold and silver bullion coins and coin collectors who study the coins have probably never considered collecting copper pennies for a worthwhile profit. You’ve probably heard “a penny saved is a penny earned,” because the humble penny is worth a penny. While most pennies have a meager face value, did you know that all copper pennies are worth twice their face value?

Pennies minted between 1909 and 1982 were made of 95% copper and 5% zinc. You may not think that copper has much monetary value, but it is an extremely important metal. Copper is widely used in industry, especially in electricity, construction, transportation, and many other areas. That’s why copper is pretty well priced because it’s also the best conductor of electricity, it doesn’t tarnish, and it’s malleable. To find the melt value of copper, we need to know that a pound of copper is currently worth about $3.12. 154 copper cents equals one pound. So 3.12 divided by 154 is roughly 2 cents to every penny.

Since the value of each copper penny is 2 cents, it can be a small investment. The more copper pennies you have, the higher the investment. So how do you get a copper penny at face value? First, you can find pre-1982 pennies by examining your daily change, or you can buy rolls from banks.

In addition to the fact that each copper penny is worth twice as much, its numismatic value is also important. Examining the dates and condition of each coin the way a coin collector would might give your copper even greater value. But you don’t necessarily need to have the knowledge of an experienced coin collector. Many rolls contain older “wheat” cents that were minted before the modern Lincoln cent (1959 – now). It’s easy to spot a wheat penny: look at the dates, minted between 1909 and 1959, and the reverse where the words “ONE CENT” are centered between two stalks of wheat.

Depending on the condition, Wheat Pennies are rarer and more valuable. The better the condition, the more they will be worth. When looking for rolls, I usually find wheat pennies in “good” to “very good” condition. These could fetch 10 to 15 cents on eBay. It is not uncommon to find many old wheat pennies and copper Lincoln/Memorials in a bank box of 50 rolls. To get a better understanding of terms and prices, I would go online and search for “worth in cents per year” or “what is the value of my coin.” You can also purchase the latest “Official Red Book: A Guide to United States Coins,” which is available at bookstores or on

The boxes of pennies you buy at the bank contain $25 of pennies in 50 rolls, for a total of 2,500 pennies. Unless you want to go through each roll and examine each one one by one, you can buy a copper penny sorting machine that allows you to separate the coppers from the zincs. If you’re not in a hurry to sort them out, you can buy a basic “EZ Copper Penny Sorter” for $30 to $60. To quickly sort lots of pennies, you’ll need a “Ryedale Apprentice Penny Sorter” that sells for $500.

Another reason to collect copper pennies is that one day, when the Mint takes them out of circulation, it will be legal to cast them into bars. The bars are much more manageable to set aside rather than cling to huge jars or containers that can hold hundreds or even thousands of pennies.

The wonderful advantage you receive when buying circulating penny rolls is that it won’t cost you more than what you paid for. It won’t cost you a hundred, so to speak, because you buy all the penny rolls at face value. You will not only find many copper pennies, but also older wheat pennies, which only add value.

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