Unexpectedly Intriguing!
04 April 2006

One of the neatest resources for tracking the rise in value of such resources as copper, nickel and zinc that I've encountered is the Coinflation web site. The premise of the site is very straightforward - Coinflation determines the current value of the metals that go into U.S. coins and compares it to the coin's face value. The following screen shot illustrates the relative values of metal to face value as of 3 April 2006 for U.S. coins presently in wide circulation:

Coinflation, 2006-04-03

Who might have guessed that a U.S. nickel might actually almost be worth 5 cents?!

Running some quick numbers for the penny, we see that the primarily copper-based pennies minted between 1959 and 1982 will be worth twice their face value if and when copper hits a value of $2.994 per pound, while its primarily zinc-based replacement will be worth its face value if and when the market price of zinc reaches $1.767 per pound.

Meanwhile, the metal content of that nickel we mentioned earlier will reach a value of $0.05 per coin if the market price of nickel increases to $8.757 per pound.

Coin collectors would do well to stock up on the 1959-1982 U.S. penny - at these prices, it's just a matter of time before the coins start disappearing from circulation as the demand for copper will make it worth the effort to collect and melt down the coins for their base metals.

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