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Penny isn't copper color - what do I have?

Q. I have one of these pennies to 1995 Denver mint ... would like to get more information.

Jeremy nickle
Hobbyist - St Augustine Florida
January 20, 2022

! I also have found a 1995 penny that doesn't have copper I assume it's zinc! If you look at the penny it is thin on its edge but looks like they just skipped the process of putting copper on.

Leslie carr
Hobbyist - Newhall West Virginia
May 2, 2022

Q. My name is Jaye I have an 1995 penny that's 2-tone with the copper & zinc ... I'm wondering if it's an error coin and is worth anything more than .01 cents. I would like to show it to someone to get some clarification on the matter.

Jerry Hatcher
- Birmingham, Alabama
July 1, 2022

A. Hi Jerry. Just google "coin store Birmingham AL" for a list of a dozen places which could take a look.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Q. I have 1995 penny that is not copper. It seems to be zinc only because it is light in color and it is not magnetic. I have tried to find out if it was one that had missed the copper plating process. Appears to be Detroit struck.

John S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Ohio

A. John,

US pennies have been copper plated zinc since 1983. Yet there are certainly ways of masking the copper. Alumiplate gives out aluminum plated pennies as one of their catch-the-eye show and tell pieces, and I'd guess the IVD aluminum coaters might as well. I also remember back in my misspent youth, before mercury was toxic, coating pennies with a thin film of mercury. It silvers them up real nice. By "Detroit", are you referring to the mint mark? "D" is Denver: and I'm still looking for a "D" Delaware quarter for my collection. We get mainly "P"'s here in Buffalo.

lee gearhart
Lee Gearhart
metallurgist - E. Aurora, New York

"Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, Curiousities"

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Q. I am writing because I also have a 1995 penny that is real light in color and doesn't look real. "Very Shiny" If you find out anymore about it I would really like to know more.

Thank you........ Darla

Darla C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Mingo Jct, Ohio

Q. I also have a 1995 penny. When I first saw it I thought it was a 1942 lead penny. I would also like to know more about this coin.


Sharon S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Springfield, Missouri

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Q. 1983 Zinc/Steel Penny?
My name is David, while at work I took as payment some change and noticed that one of the three pennies I took was not copper but steel or zinc. It was lighter than a regular penny. At home I cleaned it with toothpaste between my fingers and it came clean. The date read 1983.
I know that some pennies were zinc or steel plated, but 1983 is what captured my attention, everything is legible and in very good condition. Can anyone give me any info on what I have? I would like to assume I have an unusual find. I have several "40's pennies but I have never seen one this new.

David Perez
- Norfolk, Virginia


A. I'd like to assume that the lottery ticket I found on the street is a huge winner that someone lost accidentally rather than discarded willfully, David :-)

But hundreds of thousands of pennies have been silver, zinc, or gold plated as promotional giveaways, and perhaps millions more have been zinc plated for school science projects. So, unfortunately, odds are very very very slim for either of us! Sorry.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Well I have now a 1995 pure Zinc, non magnetic penny. It had no S or D mark..It has all the marks as fg and vdb and were it copper it would be as any other penny. I made a small cut into the edge of the penny (yes I know but the need to know if it is coated was great).. it is not coated but is solid zinc.I have had it under the microscope and its the real deal but as far as I know it should not exist. It was given as change...I am wondering was a mint malfunction actually done?.. I have a blank copper coin, or non coin as its not stamped on either side that came out of a roll of pennies..So, I know things happen..Its the first blank I have ever seen as they are culled and never make it to circulation or so I thought..This 1995 coin is not promotional, of that I am sure. From above one id stamped D from Denver mine is plain..What the heck is the deal...? Roy

Roy Capps
- Finley, Oklahoma
April 5, 2008

A. Hi, Roy. I doubt that anyone can answer your question of what you have, sight unseen and without an analysis. Is there not a coin dealer anywhere in your area who can look at it and tell you what is going on?

It's possible, certainly, that this blank was accidentally not copper plated; sorry, but I have no idea if that's what actually happened nor whether it would be worth anything. A seller on eBay seems to feel a 1983 unplated penny is worth $150. But, of course, it's still for sale, so that's what the seller wants to believe it' worth, not what a buyer has been willing to pay. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 2008

Q. I have read the posts about these pennies of Zinc plated pennies and here is what I have discovered..I got one yesterday that reads 1995 (plain).I made a cut mark in it to see if it was coated.It was not.Pure Zinc through and though.I looked at it under my microscope and have concluded that the penny is 100% legal tender that as far as I know should not exist.I have read where they were given as promotional items and such but the word coated keeps coming up.This again is not a coated penny.I do not know if a mistake was made by the mint or not but it being legal tender,not promotional says a lot for it.I also got in a row of pennies a copper penny blank,its not stamped on either side.This should have been culled at the mint and never made it into circulation.I have a penny that's been run over by a train I suspect,and in its half flattened state it like all other pennies(except the steel 43 series) are all copper as far as I know and this penny of all zinc is really got me baffled.I read of some from 1983 also here.I have no idea.I do believe a mistake at the mint was made,how,no idea!..I do know they happen.This is the only Zinc penny I have ever seen, that's what I know..As far as promotional coins go,a promotional coin would not be legal tender and should be marked in some way or so I would think.I would like to know more on this strange 1995 penny from the Philly mint I have.I know it sure has my interest peeked...Hope to see some new ideas or facts on the penny.Thanks RW

Roy Capps
Hobbyist - Finley, Oklahoma
April 6, 2008

Q. I have one of these pennies and mine is not shiny at all but my uncle , who is a coin collector , scratched a small spot on the coin and it was a bit shiny but only a little bit more than the outside of the coin . I am an amateur coin collector and have many older coins that are in perfect condition but this is the only penny like this in my collection . I also have a penny that was run over by a train and one with a cross cut into it . I even have a penny that was flattened and a sea otter stamped on it from when we went camping at the beach last year . I would really like to find out if my coin is worth anything more than just a penny . Thank you , Tammy Thomas

Tammy Thomas
- Porterville, California, USA
April 21, 2008

A. I do happen to know that in 1974, do to the rising price of copper, several substitutes were sent out to VIPs that were never collected. These included aluminum. These coins are considered to be some of the most valuable U.S. coins ever. If you have one ... well that's just awesome because only a few were made.

Scot Broadbent
- Harvard , Massachusetts, U.S.A.
May 30, 2008

Q. I have a penny which was stamped in 1977 Lincoln's head, on one side but not stamped on the other. Is it worth anything? Shirley

Shirley Fuchs
artist - Murphy, Idaho
July 17, 2008

Q. How do I know if a nickel is worth more than five cents? If I find one what do I do with it?

Been cleaning out drawers and have change all over the house! Thanks for your answer

Joan Kline
hobbyist - Raytown, Missouri
September 15, 2008

Q. I have a 1977 D Lincoln Gold Plated Penny.(It Is gold color) It is correct in all markings to a standard 1977 Penny except for the color. Did they make this type of Penny in 1977 or is it a mistake? Can you tell me anything about it?


David Riggs
hobbyist - Splendora,Texas
May 16, 2009

A. Sorry, David, I have a small bowlful of gold plated pennies. Lots of companies make them as novelties.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
May 19, 2009

Q. I have a penny that is shiny like a dime. Could this be an error and what would it be worth?

Stephen Miller
hobbyist - Irvine, Kentucky, USA
August 24, 2009

Q. I have a 1995 penny as well. like others it is lead in color or silver if you will. The only thing that I find strange is that around the edges or perimeter of the penny it is pitted on both sides. I don't believe it to be man made, possibly from the mint. Any helpful suggestion or is it worth anything?

Shane Ellefson
hobby - Spencer, Iowa
January 13, 2011

Q. How can I tell if my gold colored 1995 Denver penny is a fake without damage to the coin?
I have collected my coins through many years of being a cashier. I have coins from many different countries sure most have no worth just have fun finding them while working. Maybe when I leave them to my grandchildren they might get as much enjoyment out of them as I have.

Julie Rose
Hobbyist - Bakersfield California USA
January 17, 2011

thumbs up sign Hi, Julie. It's not a "fake" in that it probably does have a thin layer of gold plating on it. But it is a "fake" in that it is neither solid gold, nor did it come this way from the U.S. Mint. Someone decided to gold plate it, so enjoy it for what it is, and hopefully your grandchildren will too :-)


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
January 17, 2011

Q. I also have a 1995 what seems to be a zinc penny. Has anyone found out what these are? are they worth anything.

Marlene Crabtree
- St. Louis, Missouri, US
February 2, 2012

Q. Hello!

I found a 1995 D Lincoln penny with VDB on Lincoln's shoulder. I read some about this on other pennies. Does this have any extra worth?

Thank you for your time.

Alan Marsh
- Hammond, Louisiana, USA
May 15, 2012

Q. I found this odd penny, it isn't magnetic either and this is it after I cleaned it so it's not silver.


Felicia Smith
- Clearlake, California USA
September 17, 2012

Q. Penny from 1974d series has a state punched into the front top of it, that says NE on it. I've never seen a penny like it; it also is heavier then another penny from that time. What's up with this coin?


Dom Ogno
- Manorville New York
July 8, 2014

Q. Your thoughts on this 1995 penny? The o next to the 5 in 1995. The smaller 9 in 1995, and the close M in AMERICA. Any value?

John mccleve
- caledonia, Michigan
December 9, 2017

Q. I also have a 1995 D penny that is all zinc just wondering if anybody found anything out.

Brad Smothers
- Wasco California
July 6, 2018

A. Hi Brad. Sorry, I don't know an easy way to tell whether a given penny slipped through the mint without being plated, or whether someone stripped the copper plating from it.

Some of the readers of this metal finishing site can help us with questions about metal finishing technology, but generally not with explanations of anomalies, histories, or valuations. There is space here for that type of response, but we seem to be drawing mostly people with their one-time question about their own coin but not people who have any interest in carrying on dialogs on the subject :-(


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
July 2018

Q. I too have found a 1995 penny silver in color and misshaped rim of the outer ring. Can anyone tell me if the misshaped rim of the coin could have been the reason for the missing layer of copper?

James Cox
- salt lake city utah usa
January 10, 2019

September 11, 2019

Q. I too have the 1995 penny from Denver I believe, and have had it for a while it looks like it could be aluminum or even platinum maybe. I know that sounds crazy but I've done a lot of research on the metals and their reactions to aging and I have patina that is turning black all around the designs and it looks very sharp. I also think it could be silver. It does not stick to magnet. Any info please help.

Jason littleton
- Vienna West Virginia

A. It's possible to use any plating process on pennies. There was a plater in Cleveland - Davro - who gave zinc-plated pennies out to customers and potential customers saying they saved pennies per pound on plating costs. Our company - Plating Systems and Technologies, Inc. - had a live demo at a Sur/Fin Show years back in which we plated pennies with tin. (If you want a photo of a bunch of tin-plated pennies I'll email you one!)

Tom Rochester
CTO - Jackson, Michigan, USA
Plating Systems & Technologies, Inc.
supporting advertiser
plating systems & technologies banner ad
October 11, 2019

A. Hello Jason,
You probably already know that after 1982 to present, pennies are mostly zinc (approx. 97%) and a thin copper plating. In 1995 there were also black and copper pennies and some pure zinc. The picture you have submitted looks to me like black and copper because the black is still visible under the letters. The silvery color on the rim is most likely zinc. You also may of heard of the 1995 double die penny, (the letters of In God We Trust). They are valuable, depending on the condition of course.

Mark Baker
Electronic Plating - Winston Salem, North Carolina, USA
October 16, 2019

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