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Copper melt profits still a dream

In a recent poll question, Numismatic News asked whether the Treasury regulation banning the melting of cents and nickels should be revoked.

A strong majority supported revoking the ban at 83 percent, but the readers who took the time to flesh out their thinking in written comments seemed to be as strongly  opposed.

The question seems to raise strong sentiments on both sides of the question.

Those who have been saving their pre-1983 95 percent copper cents would like to cash them in. That is natural.

I checked the Kitco.com website this morning in my usual gold then silver ritual. I then went to Coinflation.com to check the price of the base metals. They are sliding along with the precious metals.

In fact, copper is teetering along the $3 a pound mark. This has reduced the actual metallic value of the copper in the old cent.

It has now fallen in value to less than twice face value. If you like precise numbers as I do, Coinflation provides it at .0198313.

The financial incentive to want to melt cents is disappearing.

For nickels, the incentive is already long gone.

The poll question asked about nickels because the regulation covers nickels. With the current prices of nickel and copper, there is no financial incentive to melt the coins.

You pay 5 cents to acquire each nickel. Coinflation.com says the value of the metal in the coin is worth .0416593.

Nobody is going to melt nickels at these prices even if it were legal to do so.

The whole point of the melting ban when it was imposed in 2006 was to buy the Congress some time to figure out what the cent and the nickel should be made of going forward, or even whether they should be made at all.

Almost seven years later, the Congress seems little closer to making a determination.

So the ban will likely remain.

Perhaps copper cent hoarders should make provision in their wills for what should be done with them.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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