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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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One cent worth of silver would be such a small coin they would all be lost. You would need a pair of tweezers to pick one up. At the current price of silver, 1 cent worth woul…d be about 1/100 the size of a normal penny. Also cents are not made of copper anymore. In the early 1980s there was a surge in the price of copper and many people began getting large numbers of pennies and melting them for their scrap copper value (then about 2 to 3 cents). So they were changed to zinc with a thin copper coating in 1982.
The composition of the US penny was changed in the middle of 1982 from 95% copper / 5% zinc to 97.5% zinc / 2.5% copper. With the rising price of copper, the penny was costin…g more than a penny to produce, and actually had more than a penny's worth of copper in it. Zinc was (and is) a less expensive metal than copper, but is not excessively light (like aluminum, another inexpensive metal) or magnetic (like steel). Note that the reformulated penny was produced with a pure zinc core coated with a thin layer of pure copper - thus leaving the appearance of the penny substantially unchanged.
pennies are made of mostly zinc but have some copper in them MoreThe composition of US cents was changed from bronze in mid-1982. The coins now have a zinc core plated… with copper (rather than mixed together). Zinc makes up 97.5% of the coin by weight.
Get it to rust: Green rust: copper, red rust: iron, no rust: silver. Not exactly US cents don't rust (except for 1943 ones). "Copper" pennies are made of bronze which ox…idizes to the familiar dark brown color. And US cents have NEVER been made from iron or silver. Plus letting a coin oxidize is a sure way to destroy any collector value it may have. The best way to tell is by the penny's date and/or weight. Cents up to 1857 were pure copperCents from 1858 to mid-1864 were made of copper-nickelCents from mid-1864 to mid-1982 (except for 1943) were made of bronze.Cents made in 1943 were struck in zinc-plated steel due to wartime shortages.Cents made since mid-1982 are zinc with a thin copper coating.
Zinc pennies are only worth 1 cent. Their metallic value is about half of a cent, so it is worth more to spend it with the face value than trying to sell it for the metal valu…e.
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 highe…st ever copper content was 95% copper and 5% tin/zinc. This metallic composition occurred in cents minted from 1864 to mid-1982. The only exception is the famous 1943 steel cent, minted out of that metal to save copper for use in ammunition during WWII.
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…e to time. It was in 1982 that the big change occurred and the copper content of the cent was cut to the 2.5% copper used in the plating. Hey, why not surf on over to the Wikipedia post on the U.S. cent and look at the handy table showing what was in the penny at different times in history? Oh, and you'll need a link. We've got one for you, and you'll find it below.
Answer If the coin has not been re-plated, the difference should be obvious to look at. The zinc-coated coins will be grayish in color rather than coppery…. However, a lot of people create fake 1943 copper coins by re-plating a steel cent with copper. If you remember back to elementary school science class, copper is not attracted to a magnet, but steel is. Use a small magnet to test your coin. AFAIK all genuine copper 1943 cents are accounted for and in collections somewhere, so if yours appears to be copper I'm willing to guess it will turn out to be plated, unfortunately.
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…ue to wartime shortages. 1982 cents were struck in both zinc and bronze so you need to weigh them - a bronze cent weighs about 3.1 gm while a zinc one weighs 2.5 gm.
Is the ratio of copper to zinc in the pennies made after 1982 higher or lower than the ratio of copper to zinc in the pennies made before 1982?
The pre-1982 pennies are 95% copper and 5% zinc. Post-1982 cents are 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.
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 an…d was 100% pure copper. In 1856 the cent's size was reduced and they were changed to an alloy that was 88% copper and 12% nickel, although pure copper large cents continued to be produced as well for one more year. The nickel alloy was hard to strike and the coins had a whitish appearance so in 1864 a bronze alloy of 95% copper and 5% tin and/or zinc was adopted. In 1943 the US made the famous steel pennies. These were made for only one year and were zinc coated steel. There was a copper shortage because of the war. There were a few copper pennies made that year also and they are now quite valuable. Bronze pennies were resumed in 1944. In 1962 the US stopped using tin pennies and they became just 95% copper and 5% zinc. In the middle of 1982 the price of copper rose to the point where each penny contained more than 1¢ worth of metal. The composition was changed again to copper-plated zinc (97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.) So, unless you have a US large cent it is in some way less than 100% pure copper. For more information about US coins the US mint is the place to get answers. www.USMint.gov Anne Boiled Down If it's dated 1982 or older, then it's copper ... If it's dated 1983 or newer, then it's zinc with a thin copper plate ... If it's 1982, weigh it -- if it's 3.1 grams then it's copper .. if it's 2.5 grams then it's zinc. Unless it is one of the few mistakes the U.S. made in 1983 when they made about 100 copper pennies that are very rare and expensive today.
The price of copper rose to the point where it cost more than 1 cent to make the coins. There's more information at the Related Question.
In US Coins
because it not supposed to be a lot of money so instead of making in silver or gold they made it copper! MoreAt one time coins had to contain their face value in metal…, minus a small amount to cover minting costs. As the previous answer noted, pennies aren't worth a lot so they had to be made from a cheaper metal. The more expensive metals would have been completely impractical. If a penny had been made out of silver, for example, it would have been about 1/4" in diameter while a gold one would have been so small you'd need tweezers to pick it up. Today US cents (pennies) are made out of zinc with a copper coating because the price of copper has gone up so much that a penny would contain almost 2 cents worth of that metal.
In the early 1980s the price of copper increased to the point where a cent contained more than 1 cent worth of metal. The Mint had options of choosing one of several dif…ferent, less expensive metals as a replacement but chose zinc after considerable lobbying by the zinc industry. By the early 2000s the price of zinc had also gone up to the point where there was again more than a penny's worth of metal in the coin, so still cheaper metals such as steel are now being considered. Several other countries - Canada, the U.K., the EU - already have switched to copper-plated steel for their smallest coins.
Because you asked this in the US currency section, I guess you are really talking about the one cent piece. This is sometimes called a penny because it is roughly the same siz…e, shape, and colour as a one new penny. This used to be made of pure copper, but is now made of copper-plated zinc, so if you file away the coating, you will see the zinc inside.