With the weather outside cold and rainy I thought it would be a good time to buy a few rolls of pennies and sort through them. Stopping in at a local bank, I drop two rolls of half dollars on the counter and ask the teller for twenty dollars worth of pennies. As usual, I get that oh so common strange look. While she is sliding the box full of penny rolls toward me, she asks me if I'm sure I want them. With a straight face and no further explanation, I assure her I do.
Once home I joyfully start unwrapping the rolls in search of my beloved wheat cents and it doesn't take long to go through the forty rolls. Luck was on my side and I found five "Wheaties". Normally I start putting the coins back into rolls but today I decided to do a little test.
Pennies dated prior to 1982 are 95% copper and it takes 145 of them to make a pound. 1982 was a transitional year so some are copper and some are zinc. The easiest way to tell which is which is to weigh them. A copper penny will weigh 3.11 grams while a zinc is 2.5 grams. You can also do this test for the somewhat rare 1983 copper penny.
Out of the twenty dollars worth of pennies I purchased, 394 were copper. I had 68 1982 pennies that I didn't test. There were also five wheat cents, a Canadian penny, and a 1976 & 1960 that were in mint red condition. With spot prices at $3.34 that means I had $9.07 in scrap copper value.
Hoarding of copper pennies isn't an unknown thing and with the cost of producing a penny exceeding it's value, I think it's days are numbered. At this time it is illegal to melt pennies for scrap, but with the high prices of copper that may soon change.
I have mixed feelings on this. I'm all for making a profit, but I would hate to see large quantities of old pennies being permanently taken out of circulation. I think that future generations should have the chance to experience the same joy I get from roll hunting.
Good luck and good hunting!