Why is the outside surface of a penny made of copper and not zinc?

Traditionally, the US penny (or, more properly, the US one cent coin) has been made of copper or copper with a small amount of zinc (except in 1943, when it was made of steel with a zinc coating). During 1982, as the price of copper meant that the "melt value" of the coin was more than one cent (that is, it had more than one cent's worth of copper), the decision was taken to produce the penny out of a cheaper metal - zinc. A coating of pure copper (equal to 2.5% of the total composition of the penny) was added so as not to change the appearance of the penny.
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What dates were pennies made from copper?

1793-1857 : pure copper 1857-1864 : 88% copper, 12% nickel 1864-1942 and 1944-mid 1982 : 95% copper, 5% tin/zinc 1943 : steel plated with zinc mid 1982-present : zinc plat (MORE)

What pennies were made of pure copper?

United States large cent coins (1793-1857) were made of pure  copper.    However small cent coins (1856-present) were never made of entirely  pure copper. Their highest (MORE)

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How and when did pennies start being made of zinc and copper instead of just copper?

It turns out that the solid copper U.S. cent was minted from 1793 to 1837. After that, it was "mostly" copper, and the other metals included in the alloy varied a bit from tim (MORE)

How do you tell the difference between a copper penny and a copper-plated zinc penny?

Well, there are two ways. You could scratch it or melt it over a  flame to check composition. Or, you could check the date.    The first US penny was minted in 1793 and (MORE)

Why are pennies made with copper shells?

They aren't anymore. "Shell-case" cents were only made in 1944 and 1945 when the government had to dispose of huge numbers of casings that had been used for ammunition in WW2 (MORE)

How do you tell if a penny is made of copper?

Assuming you mean a US cent, in general if its date is 1981 or older, it is predominantly copper. The major exception would be 1943 cents that were made of zinc-plated steel d (MORE)

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