What Are Pennies Made Of?

What Are Pennies Made Of?

What Are Pennies Made Of?

October 30, 2023 182 view(s)

According to the U.S. Mint, there are around 130 billion pennies currently in circulation. But did you know they could be worth more than their face value?


Welcome to the world of penny investment! If you've come this far, you're about to discover that pennies are more than small change; they hold historical significance and potential investment opportunities.


In this article, we'll walk you through the fascinating world of the pennies, uncovering their history and providing valuable insights for investors.

So, what does a penny cost to investors? Read on to learn more. 

Understanding The History of Pennies

 In this section, we will take a closer look at the pennies of the past, present, and today. Let's explore these iconic types of pennies through the ages: 

The Original Penny

The penny is one of the first coins produced by the U.S. Mint following its founding in 1792. Cast from solid copper, it was bigger than today's penny and was known as a 'large cent'. This original design featured a design of Lady Liberty with flowing locks on the front face and a chain link on the obverse side. 

On March 1, 1793, the U.S. Mint released 11,178 of these copper cents into circulation, marking the adoption of our modern currency system. Today, original copper cents and pennies have a scrap metal value of around 7 cents. However, they are highly sought after by collectors and investors, fetching up to $70-$900 based on quality and variety. 

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Introducing Zinc Copper Alloy

For over six decades, the face of Liberty graced the penny. However, in the pivotal year of 1857, a transformation occurred. The penny underwent a reduction in size, accompanied by a shift in its metal makeup, transitioning to a bronze alloy of 88% copper and 12% nickel.

These alterations ushered in a fresh era of design. The obverse side now proudly displayed a majestic flying eagle, while the reverse side showcased a wreath, marking a departure from the longstanding tradition of featuring Liberty. This innovative design breathed new life into the coin's appearance.

Subsequently, from 1859 to 1909, an iconic motif known as the "Indian Head" design took center stage. This captivating and culturally significant representation graced the penny, adding a layer of historical and artistic depth to the coin's long and storied history.

Presidential Pennies

The year 1909 marked a significant milestone in the history of U.S. coinage. It was the year when Abraham Lincoln, the esteemed 16th President of the United States, made his debut appearance on our nation's currency, a fitting tribute to commemorate his 100th birthday.

The obverse side of the penny proudly displayed an iconic image of Lincoln, skillfully crafted by the talented artist Victor David Brenner. What's remarkable is that this very design, conceived in 1909, continues to grace the penny's obverse to this day, a testament to its enduring and timeless significance.

From 1909 to 1958, the reverse side of the penny bore the image of two sheaves of wheat, symbolizing the agricultural heritage of the United States. Then, from 1959 to 2008, a new and equally compelling design adorned the coin. This design, created by the accomplished artist Frank Gasparro, featured the iconic Lincoln Memorial.

Rare and Valuable Pennies

Now that we understand the composition of pennies through the years, let's take a look at some special examples of valuable types of pennies. Keep an eye out for these much-wanted gems while hunting for pennies: 

Commemorative Editions

The Mint, established in 1792, celebrated its 225th anniversary in 2017. To honor their history as an integral part of U.S. independence, pennies produced in Philadelphia were adorned with a "P" mint mark for the very first time.

This historic addition to the coins' design delighted collectors and investors, adding an extra layer of intrigue to their collections.

War Pennies

During the chaos of World War II, copper was desperately needed to fuel the ongoing war effort. As a result, pennies were coined in zinc-plated steel during the year of 1943. These war pennies carry rich historical significance and make a great investment or collector's item.

Interestingly, this composition change also led to one of the most unique and sought-after minting errors today when the Mint struck and released a limited number of pure copper pennies.  

Striking Errors

Collectors of US pennies are always on the lookout for error coins. These are pennies with mistakes in minting, resulting in unique and sometimes valuable variations.

Examples include double-die pennies, off-center strikes, and coins with missing mintmarks. Error pennies offer an exciting dimension to your investments, as they are often one of a kind.

Unlocking the Investment Potential

In this section, we will explore the investment potential of pennies and how you can get involved. Here are a few simple avenues to making money from valuable pennies:

Collectible Coins

While they make great fascinations for collectors, rare pennies are also fair game for those looking to diversify a portfolio of any size. Rare pennies can fetch substantial prices at auctions. Investing in collectible coins is a promising venture for those with a keen eye-and, who knows? You may just find a new hobby for life. 

Precious Metals Market

The copper content in pennies can also be of interest to investors. As copper prices fluctuate, investors often keep an eye on the metal's market performance. Holding a large amount of pennies can be a hedge against copper price fluctuations.

Diversification Strategy

Pennies can be a valuable addition to your investment portfolio. Including them in your diversified investments can help spread risk and potentially increase your overall returns. Combined with other wise investments, this will help you hedge against whatever circumstances come your way. 

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Penny Cost and Composition Explained

Whether you're a seasoned collector or a novice investor, understanding penny cost and composition can be a rewarding experience. Keep an eye on the precious metals market and consider adding pennies to your investment portfolio to diversify and explore new opportunities.

If you found this article helpful, check out our free investor's guide. It's packed with tips, tricks, and advice to help you get your portfolio off the ground and working for you.