1909-1982 pennies worth more

Published: Feb. 23, 2012 at 7:12 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2012 at 10:10 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Our parents taught us the value of saving our change. The coins add up, but some are more valuable than others.

"The price of copper moved up so much during the late 70's, they no longer could afford to use copper as the main base metal," said Ron Mirr, Owner of Liberty Coins.

So for the past 30 years, pennies have been made with an alloy comprised of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper, but pennies minted before 1982 are 95% copper and 5% zinc. The price of copper has more than quadrupled over the past 10 years. So a penny produced before 1982 is worth 2.2 cents based on the metal it contains.

In 2007, the U.S. Mint implemented outlawed melting down pennies for profit. The fear -- a coin shortage, and the cost to replace those coins. Last year, the U.S. Mint made more than 4 billion pennies, each one costing 2.4 cents to create.

"Because of the price of base metals getting more expensive, I could see them eventually probably doing away with the penny," Mirr added.

There is a small market for pre 1982 pennies. On eBay, a lot of 5000 pennies has a face value of $50, but it will sell for $60.

"The coins before 1982 in uncirculated rolls, they'll probably see in 15 or 20 years, those rolls could double or triple in value," Mirr said.

A few buyers are holding out hope that the U.S. Mint will one day get rid of the penny and their collection will pay off.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

Info from www.coinflation.com.

Description Denomination Metal Value Metal % of Denomination
Lincoln Copper Cent Price 1909-1982 Cent (95% copper) *
Jefferson Nickel Price 1946-2012 Nickel
Lincoln Zinc Cent Value 1982-2012 Cent (97.5% zinc) *
Roosevelt Dime Value 1965-2012 Dime
Washington Quarter Value 1965-2012 Quarter
Kennedy Half Dollar Value 1971-2012 Half Dollar
Ike Dollar Value 1971-1978 Eisenhower Dollar
Susan B. Anthony Dollar Value 1979-1981, 1999 SBA Dollar
Sacajawea Dollar Value 2000-2012 Sacagawea Dollar
Presidential Dollar Value 2007-2012 Presidential Dollar

* The U.S. Mint issued both compositions in 1982; they can be differentiated by weight (3.11 g copper, 2.5 g zinc). The 1943 steel cent is not included in the table above. Also, a tin alloy is used in one cent pieces from 1864 until 1962, but that value isn't significant enough to calculate.

Base Metal Coin Calculator

Coin values not included above:   Jefferson Nickel 1938-1942 Jefferson Nickel,   Buffalo Nickel 1913-1938 Buffalo Nickel,   Indian Cent 1864-1909 Indian Cent