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topic 23752

Why is a penny made of copper?


Dear people I need to know why pennys are made of copper for my science homework and everything seems to be cross checked with JC PENNYS.

Maureen R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Denver, Colorado

First of two simultaneous responses -- (2003)

The reason pennies are made out of copper goes back to the days when currency was based on the value of metals (gold being the high standard) "haypennies" were one of the lowest values. Today pennies aren't really made out of copper they are made out of a base material (zinc) and then plated with copper. If you scratch a penny deep enough you will see the silver colored base material inside it. The reason they switched from pure copper to a plated material is due to actually got to the point where a pure copper penny wasn't worth the cost of making due to the expense of the copper

Jason Aube
- Flint, Michigan

Second of two simultaneous responses -- (2003)


If you use the search engine at this site, it wil lead you to a letter telling you to type in "US MINT and penny". This will take you to the primary source. Unfortunately for you, they will not explain it. Note that a modern penny is a copper clad zinc. They go into significant detail on the manufacturing of it. The reason for this, it is cheaper than copper. OK, why copper? In the early days it was cheaper than nickel, was easy to manufacture, and was appropriately durable. IE: the price was right.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


The reason you kept on getting JC PENNYS is because you spelled pennies wrong P-E-N-N-I-E-S.

Lauren L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Silver Spring, Maryland


Thanks for the information about why pennies are made from copper. I have been wondering the same thing.

Bruno B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- San Bruno, California


Pennies are not made out of copper, they just have the outer part of it dipped in copper. if they were made out of copper they would be worth far more.

Briahna J [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Shelton, Washington

March 1, 2008

A Penny is made of copper. A penny is made of copper because back in the days where the values was based on metals. A penny is really made of something that is not magnetic and like I said it is copper. Also back in the day's gold was called "haypennies." That is because in the days gold was one of the lowest values in the days.

maddie f [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- new york

March 1, 2008

Thanks for the response, Maddie, but it's not a hundred percent accurate. U.S. pennies were solid copper until 1982. Copper was a good material for them because it was corrosion resistant, looked different than a dime in color, and was worth about a penny in metal value. But copper became too valuable and US money became too devalued to continue that way because there would be a lot more than 1¢ worth of copper in a penny, so people would be tempted to buy pennies, only to melt them down and sell the copper. So, since 1983 since they are made of a zinc core with a thin coating of copper.

The word "ha'pennies" did not come from 'hay', it is a contraction of the word 'half'.

Gold was never cheap in the whole history of the world. It was always and everywhere precious due to its rarity, its weight, its beauty, and its corrosion resistance.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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