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Penny & Nickel in Steel?

Base Metal Prices Force the Issue

penny obv.jpgIn U.S. numismatics the one cent piece (penny) and five cent piece (nickel) are the current hot buttons. High prices for the base metals, copper and nickel, used in their production have driven up manufacturing penny rev.jpgcosts above the face value of these coins and hobby professionals, like friend and fellow blogger Dave Harper have been talking up the subject for some time now.

Costs always push these discussions out to the broader public and media however and this morning I noticed a story on CNN. Historically, in our field lots of collectors and professionals have been debating the need for the cent for many, many years. In general, we collectors do not want to see the cent dropped from coinage and at the U.S. Mint we have an ally in Director Edmund C. Moy, who has been wonderful at listening to collectors.

nickel obv.jpgStill, paying more than face value to produce a penny or nickel is economically unsound. The suggestion that both coins be switched in content to steel is an interesting one. I am not sure how the public might react to such a change, but I can say that as a collector I, personally, would enjoy such a move. A metal change is the simplest way to move the type collector into action. Most numismatists would nickel rev.jpgcertainly make a point of adding a new steel cent or five cent to their collection. They might even take the opportunity to encourage kids to do the same, as collecting pennies and nickels has always been the lowest cost, smallest downside, easiest access channel into numismatics.

In addition a metal change would force U.S. collectors to take a better look at the long date runs of the Lincoln cent and Jefferson nickel. Generally only the highest grades garner interest currently, but if the composition of these types changes, perhaps markets would begin to mature and structure might develope for marginal differences in date and grade scarcity.

Consider taking a moment and expressing your opinion on this subject. Post a comment here, or stop over at NumisMaster, where several surveys, blog posts and articles have already been generating lively discussions among collectors.

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3 Responses to Penny & Nickel in Steel?

  1. Koichi Ito says:

    Please make penny out of plastic and nickel out of aluminum.

  2. Tom,

    Thank you for linking to my article about how to tell copper pennies from the zinc ones. This is a great time for collectors who like to sort pocket change, because in a few years, the mostly-copper pennies and nickels will probably be remembered as fondly as the once-circulating silver coins are now. Get ’em while you can! =)

    Susan Headley

  3. tom says:

    Absolutley Susan, searching pocket change and rolls from the bank has always been a fun pursuit for coin collectors! And as base metals rise in value, what you say will surely come to pass.

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