From the Nov. 11 Numismatic News E-Newsletter: Are you finding pre-1983 95-percent copper cents in your change, or bank rolls? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor, Dave Harper.
On occasion, I go to my local bank and get 10-20 rolls of cents. Out of these rolls, about one third are pre-1983 cents. This would include at least a half dozen wheat cents as well as a few Canadian cents. A few months back, my finds included two 1943 steel cents, one “D” and one “S” mintmark. May all who search have as much good luck as I’ve had.
Gary Kess Escalon, Calif.
I still get pre-1983 pennies in my change. In fact, a month ago I found two 1971 pennies, as pictured in your article.
Wilford Wilder Chicago, Ill.
Today I pulled 29 pennies including a steel wheat penny from this month’s change jar.
Sam Heller Cortland, N.Y.
Yes, I’m still finding cents in change dated before 1983. I’m able to do so on a weekly basis. I’ve been pulling them from circulation and putting them away. At the end of each week, I place what I’ve found under my microscope and look for errors, etc. I have a lot of fun doing that as I never know what I may find with a little magnification. Let me finish by saying that a good accumulation of coppers sure becomes heavy over time.
Bryan New Columbia, Ky.
I look through a $25 box of pennies from my bank about every two weeks. I find approximately $8 worth of copper pennies in every box. I weigh the 1982s to see if they are copper. If it weighs 3.11 grams, it’s copper and 2.5 grams is zinc. I have been doing this for 20 years and have almost $3,000 worth of copper pennies, all rolled and boxed up.
Dennis Hayden Durand, Wis.
I’m still finding pennies from before 1983, but a lot less than I used to.
Mary Madis Blacksburg, Va.
I have a jar full of 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979 and 1980 mostly Denver Mint cents. Of course, I find the odd wheatie and other dates in the 1960s.
I enjoy looking through my change and the occasional roll for treasures that pop up when I least expect it.
Hoyt Thompson Hugo, Okla.
Yes, I still find 95 percent copper cents in change, and I set them aside. The nicer ones go into Whitman folders and the ugly ones end up going through penny-stretching machines at tourist traps we visit. Lately less than 10 percent have been bronze. I will venture a guess that about 5 percent are.
Patrick Yamada Orange, Calif.
I regularly get rolls of pennies from the bank with pre-1983 cents. These rolls are typically the ones people have rolled themselves. There are usually around 5-10 pre-1983s per roll, and in pocket change, maybe 2 percent.
Backman Younginer Lakeland, Fla.
Those pre-1983 copper Lincoln cents seem to have disappeared from circulation. Neither myself nor other collectors I have talked with have found more than one in the last 15 months. My guess is that with the high price of copper as a commodity, some hoarding or even melting may have played a role in their scarcity.
Robert McKenna Belleville, Mich.
Yes, I look through all pennies and save all the 95 percent copper cents that I find. Sure, we can’t melt them down, but maybe someday.
By the time we are allowed to, it will be too late to acquire them in quantity, so save them now.
If they never allow it, then it’s still money that can be spent. It’s a no-risk effort in my opinion.
Brett Miner Indianapolis, Ind.
Over the last few years I have accumulated six 1983 cents that grade from extremely fine to MS-63.
Ben Delehoy Findlay, Ohio
I have gone through an average of $50 in pennies every week for the past year and find that about 40 percent of them are pre-1983. The best part is that on average I find 25 or more wheat cents and about 15 2009 dates.
I have been saving any almost uncirculated or better pre-1982 cents because they are going to disappear within the next few years the way the wheaties did.
Last week one of the tellers in my bank gave me four wheaties in change. I asked to see the remainder of the pennies in her change rack and sure enough they were also wheaties. She checked in her holding draw and found four more rolls turned in by the same depositor. I took them from her and they were all wheaties. It is just a matter of persistence to find good coins. Yesterday I found a 1911 in very fine and a 1960 small date in almost uncirculated.
Warren Rabeck Torrington, Conn.
Always looking for “pre-pennies.” I came across a 1961-D in extremely fine the other day.
Finding a wheat ear cent makes my day. I am strictly a U.S. currency collector now, but you never grow out of coins.
George A. Herman Des Plaines, Ill.
No I’m not finding “Little Copper Treasures” in pre-1983 95-percent copper cents in my change, or in bank rolls. Some guys have all the luck, and then some guys make their own luck by creating the opportunity to be lucky.
One seller on eBay is selling off part of his 15,000 rolls of copper cents. He said that he has to go through about $125 to $140 worth of pennies to get $25 of copper. There’s way too much cent hoarding for copper melting.
Chuck Schroeder St. Petersburg, Fla.
I have been sorting through bags and boxes from the local banks most of this year and I am still finding roughly 30 percent of them to be 95 percent copper cents with a few wheat cents included.
Alan Applegate Bloomington, Ill.
Yes I am, lots of them as a matter of fact. I put them in rolls and fill at least two a month. I am sometimes lucky enough to get a wheat cent in my change too, not many but a few every year.
I do see a day when it will be very rare to get a pre-1983 Lincoln cent in my change, but that day has not come yet.
Dennis Post Golden Valley, Minn.
Yes, I still find quite a few. I am still putting them aside and rolling them. Depending on the price of copper their melt value is between 2 and 3 cents each. I am also starting to put away nickels. I don’t think they will keep their current composition much longer, although they will probably still be minted in some form.
Steven Grubb Fontana, Calif.
Finding five to ten pre-1983 cents in most rolls. Only one wheat penny in a thousand anymore.
Bob Stewart Fair Play, Mo.
I’m not only finding them in change, I’ve been seeking them out for about the last six years or so and stashing them in white canvas bags that my older brother from New Hampshire gave me a number of years ago when visiting the Granite State.
The bags are two feet high and a foot wide. It seems like it takes forever to fill one of them, but a number of them are full and sealed. I thought it would be nice to save them for a rainy day. You know, just dump them out and search them with my grandchildren.
James D. Santeufemio Sr.
I have been collecting the copper cents for some time now. I have not found anyone to purchase them. This has been a major problem, no refiners will accept them. What is the solution?
Vincent Ferrara Address withheld
Editor’s note: It is illegal to melt cents or ship them out of the country.
As I go through cent rolls, I find on average five to eight copper cents per roll.
Ray Whiting Reading, Pa.
If anybody comes around to the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, and asks for rolls of cents at the Huntington Bank, and gets a roll marked: “Found on the ground and all around,” “Lincolns,” “Zincolns,” “Comms,” or “Shields,” they just received a roll of cents packed by me.
Whenever I cull 50 cents worth in pennies, I roll them up and take them to my bank, usually for two quarters (no America The Beautiful quarters yet) or an occassional half dollar.
The “Lincolns” of course are the pre-1983 cents, “Zincolns” are post-1983, “Comms” are the Lincoln Bicentennial cents, and “Shields” are the most recent (2010 and 2011) issues. Any Wheat-backs I get either from change, the Coinstar, or pick up off the ground, I check it for dates I don’t have, then put it in a small coin bag marked “Sack of wheat.”
Bill Tuttle Cleveland, Ohio
I have lots of pre-1983 95 percent copper and 100 percent copper cents.
Most of them have come from caches hoarded by family members. I have acquired them when they have died.
I have just acquired a full bowl of cents from a neighbor who was placed in a nursing home. They were a gift for helping her around the house for the last 30 years.
In some cases, I just bid on lots at auctions or purchase them in bulk from second-hand stores. I found several very nice items that way and have two sets of 1909-2010 Lincolns almost complete. One is missing only the 1922 plain and have every variety ever minted.
Keep up the great work you do with the KP Numismatics Update.
Bruce Barnes Address withheld
I love collecting these. I especially love all the 1982 varieties. They are my favorite to collect.
But yes, every single pre-1983 penny I find in my change I put aside and organize by year and mint. I’ll occasionally go through them with a good penny variety book and look at each more closely to see if I can categorize them further.
While it’s not unusual to find copper pennies in one’s change, I no longer get a lot. Many days, I get none. So, all in all, it’s not that burdensome to go through them when I do get them.
I don’t know when the government will allow us to sell them as copper, but if and when they do, I’ll have something of some worth (though not a lot) that I can sell (after selling the more valuable varieties that I’ve found first).
Michael Hudson Address withheld