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Copper Cent and Nickel Collecting
Collecting both pennies and nickels can be a rewarding pastime both as a hobby and could make you some money or what I like to call value in the long run.
Common United States cents pre 1982 are made up of 95% copper and 5% zinc. Some cents made in 1982 and after are mostly zinc with a coating of copper. Most United States nickels are 75% copper and 25% nickel.
The metals in pre 1982 cents and nickels has been known to climb over face value. As of this time (2016) the metals have dropped below face value in price but are trending upward. Zinc is also climbing and I expect the mostly zinc cent will go above face value too.
The reason this is significant has many factors. The price of all metals should rise with inflation in general. This means what these coins will be valued at could go up to anything depending on the demand and other market dynamics for base metals.
The coins are still valued at their face value so in the event metal value goes below face value your investment is protected because the coins are still worth face value.
This should be considered a long term investment but you can already sell the pre 1982 cents on ebay at a premium. Usually 1.5 cents each to 3 cents per coin in bulk. I know this works because I am an occasional buyer of them myself.
If you are thinking about saving these coins long term there are some things you should keep in mind. Do not melt the coins for the metal within them. This practice in the United States is currently illegal.
Even if it were legal it is still not a good idea. The coins are worth more as coins. As a copper buyer myself I know what copper alloy these coins are made of. If you showed me a glob of copper and wanted to sell it I would not know the purity of the copper and probably would not do the sale as I have to test the metal to check purity.
Scrap yards generally do not take coins so this is not a viable option to profit atleast at this point. If you are in this to make money now as I said before there is a market on ebay and other auction sites but unless you do this on an industrial scale you will not make much considering the effort you must put into this.
If you are thinking more long term that is absolutely the better option. The copper coins should trade at multiples of face value as coins. The same way silver coins today trade at 13x face value or more.
Nickels are another great option. You can buy them from the bank and they are ironically still being made from the same copper alloy called cupronickel. But not for long. The rising metal values puts pressure on the mint to look for cheaper alternatives.
Nickels have advantages over pennies. 25% of a nickel is the metal nickel which is worth more than even the copper! And the fact that the metal composition had stayed the same makes the nickel easy to identify and they can right now be all acquired at face value!