Just to get it out of the way, melting down or defacing the United States penny is a crime in case anyone was thinking of selling them for bulk copper. However, mass amounts of pennies can be used as copper bullion, which isn’t the worst investment vehicle out there.
Copper bullion is something you can do with old pennies
A penny saved is said to be a penny earned, but who wants to keep the darn things around the house? They get everywhere. The couch is full of them and who wants to take the time and trouble to roll them? Not to mention the metal they are made from is more valuable than the penny is as currency.
Heck, Canada got rid of theirs.
Some, though, have the idea that they could melt them down and sell them. That is a legal no-no, as the U.S. Mint, according to the Portland Mint, made it illegal to do so in 2006. However, there may be something you can do with them. According to Daily Finance, one could always just keep them as a form of copper bullion.
Far from the worst investment
Holding pennies as copper bullion, or at least a form of it, is less far-fetched than it sounds. While pennies are considered to be worth only one cent, while used as currency, the current penny itself is worth 2.5 cents, as that’s the value of the amount of zinc and copper the coin contains.
The modern penny is comprised of 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper, after being changed in 1982. Prior to that year, the composition was 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. If a person were to melt a modern penny, the value of the metals would have a “melt value,” or the amount of money the metals are worth if one were to melt them down, of roughly one-half of one cent. A 1981 or previous penny has a melt value of two cents, double the face value of the coin.
However, since melting them is illegal, people have been selling bags of them, as Daily Finance points out, as unofficial bullion.
Tag and bag
Auction site eBay is chock full of people selling consignments of pennies, often going for $2 to $3 per pound, usually in 10 to 15 pound lots. One example cited by the site was for a $1,000 lot, consisting of 100,000 pennies, which went for $1,500, less than the melt value but more than face value. The melt value, since melting is illegal, is theoretical, so anyone looking to get into it should expect less than melt but more than face value.
As the Portland Mint points out, pennies as copper bullion is one of the safest investments there are since, by definition, they have a price floor of one cent. No matter what, they will never be worth less than that.