How Much Longer – Will Copper Cents be In Circulation?

Posted on March 18, 2011 by

As of March 18, 2011 the melt value of a pre 1983 copper Lincoln cent is 2.8 cents each, as the coins contain 95% copper.

Since the metal content in copper cents and Jefferson nickels is worth more than their face value, on December 14, 2006 the Mint imposed restrictions on the melting and transporting of cents and nickels. Finally, on April 10, 2007, the rule became regulated by law (Title 31, Section 5111d).

  • The regulation indicates that travelers leaving the U.S. are limited to transporting no more than $5.00 in cents and nickels out of the country.
  • Additionally, no more than $100.00 worth of cents and nickels can be shipped outside the U.S. in the same shipment, and those that do, can only be shipped for legitimate coinage and numismatic purposes.
  • Finally, there are fines of up to $10,000.00 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both, against any individual who knowingly violates any one of these rules.

    Despite the restrictions on melting cents and nickels the coins still trade at a premium above melt values. Currently there are several dealers who already buy copper cents at a premium from their face value. And even online auctions like this one here where $100 worth of copper cents realized $181.50.

    Ryedale Copper Sorter  – Sorts up to 18,000 coins per hr.

    1c Copper Sorter

    In the past few years copper sorting methods have also advanced, including the development of copper sorting machines which are now sold to the public. Like the one pictured above called the “Ryedale Apprentice Sorter” which sorts up to 18,000 coins per hour.

    Despite the restrictions, pre 1983 copper cents are still being hoarded, bought and sold by many. Since the Mint made these restrictions, I personally have seen far fewer pre 1983 copper cents in circulation. And in a couple of years, most pre 1983 copper cents will probably no longer be in circulation.

    Filed Under: News

    Comments (1)


    1. james wolfe says:

      great story,just like the wheat

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