Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ABC Wednesday - Z is for Zinc

Z is for Zinc.............

copper penny coins in a line

This little pile of shiny copper is quite deceiving.

This U.S. coin - the smallest of our denominations - is a penny, and it holds a face value of one cent.

In 1982, the US government changed the composition of this coin which had been made of copper for hundreds of years.

Copper had become a precious metal, and the amount of copper in each penny gave each coin a value of .026 - doubling its value because of its metal weight.

Well, we just couldn't have that - it's not the capitalistic way.

So a new recipe for pennies was born.

They are now made of 97.5% zinc covered with an extra thin 2.5% layer of copper.

These babies are also quite toxic - the amount of zinc in them can be fatal to dogs and we can be poisoned by them if we ingest them.

But of course the amount of metal in them is now worth under .001 of a cent.

And if is anyone is caught trying to sell or export the old, real copper pennies for melt value - there is a $10,000 fine or a vacation in prison.

If you heft one of these guys - they are light as a feather. No solid feeling of a coin in the hand as with the old ones.

Oh well - at least they won't weight heavy in the pocket.

This is the third round of ABC Wednesday. If you would like to join in please visit this site for the details.


  1. Interesting Z. Now I feel compelled to go and seek my US change to check what type of "coppers" I have.

  2. Interesting - so far as British coinage is concerned I always thought our "coppers" were made of an alloy of copper and nickel. Now I am wondering if that is still the case here.

  3. Interesting post. I gave a friend an old sixpence as a gift the other day, and we talked about how they used to be made of silver. By the time this particular sixpence was made (1963, I think it was) there was precious little silver left in them, but I'm not sure exactly what the alloy was.

  4. Very interesting stuff, even for non-US citizens.

    When EU introduced the Euro coins some years ago they were supposed to be made of a nickel-containing alloy. However, nickel-allergy is common, especially in Northern Europe, so they had to find a solution, a compromise: Every second denomination were made of an alloy not containing nickel.

  5. That was an interesting post. I learned something new!

  6. Wow! I didn't know there's such fines for these things...

    Anyway, I have an award for you at my blog.. I hope you'll accept it.. :)

  7. Now I understand that there is talk of retiring the U.S. cent. I think I would welcome getting away from ads that advertise a 2 dollar item as $1.99!

  8. Thanks for stopping by, my friends! Glad you enjoyed the post!

  9. Wow, $10,000 fine, that's a lot of fake pennies,lol, mind you I could use the vacation.Very interesting Kathy I learned something, which is always cool.


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