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topic 9941

Why is this penny silver?

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2017


Q. So I have a 1970 penny that is zinc coated you are saying these are not minted by the government?

Cheri M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Taylor , Michigan


A. I don't know what the U.S. government might mint in terms of commemorative coins, Cheri, but there was certainly no zinc plated coin designed for general circulation since WWII. Where did you get it?

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


Q. I also have a silver colored (zinc?)1970 penny. Do you know what this is?

John T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Miami, Florida


A. It is very easy to zinc plate a penny, as we describe on this site, John. With tens of thousands of students zinc plating them for science projects, I think that's the most likely source of the coin you found, although not the only possible explanation.

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


Q. I received a silver coin the size of a dime but it has the maple leaf on one side and the queens head on the other; it is a 1977 coin. Any idea as to why it would be silver? It is Canadian.

El M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Canada

A. Hi, El. What metal are coins of that denomination usually made of?


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


Q. My friend found a 1984 penny made of either zinc or silver--I would like some more info please--or if you can direct me to another site---thank you---

Trevor T [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Mandeville, Louisiana


A. Actually, the silver pennies made by science students turn gold when they are heated on a hot plate. My daughter has made several of them in AP chemistry. I have a silver penny that was found with a bunch of change in a garage and it does not turn gold when heated. We have also sanded the edge of the coin to get to the copper underside and there is no copper underside.

Melissa W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lowell, Arkansas


Q. Does anyone know whether or not if you keep heating the golden penny if it will eventually turn back to its original state? Or how you can find out that it is not real gold?

Jamie S.
- Schedy. New York


A. We collect "silver pennies", or cents minted on dime blanks. Some of the questions sound like folks who have found such "errors". These are scarce but not rare, we are collecting them by date.

Bill Anderson
- Durham, North Carolina


Q. I also have found a penny that looks silver, nickel, or zinc. How do you tell if it is from a dime or nickel blank? I have seen others who have had the 1970 year with D (Denver) mint on them. How do we know what we have? The Dr.

Dr. Eric Tramel
- South Bend, Indiana


A. In the mid 80's the US gov began production of zinc pennies with a copper coating or copper like coating. Its possible that the copper coating was removed, resulting in a silver looking coin.

Brian Chip
- San Mateo, California

Ed. note: Yes, it was 1983. Pennies before 1983 were solid copper; pennies after 1983 are copper plated zinc.


Q. I have recently stumbled upon a penny from 1993 that is like the 1941 zinc pennies it is very clear that it is not a copper penny I have removed some of the corrosion on it to make sure that it is not copper but I have not found any additional information about any type of coins other than the zinc 1941 penny that was done in this way if you have any suggestions for me on what I should do.

Jessica Whetstone
collector - La Vista, Nebraska

Ed. note: the zinc plated steel pennies were 1943, Jessica. I would bet that any coin store would be pleased to instantly tell you whether you have a collectible coin vs. a coin that was electroplated for a science project.


Q. I found a silver 1993 penny. I have looked at it carefully and it is exactly like a regular penny except it's color. At first glance I though it was a dime. It doesn't seemed to be tampered with like dipped in another color or anything. It's barely scratched. I was wondering if it was real and could it be worth anything?

Christina F.
Student - Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Ed. note: We have tried this 'silver penny' question here and on letters 9504, 19105, and 35852. Please read those other letters as well. There's probably no point in posting duplicate questions though, folks.


Q. A friend told me today, he was given a 1995 penny that had no copper on it. He was told that these were supposed to be caught before they made it to the banks, however some do slip through. We live in a one horse cow town so going to a major city is an adventure. He doesn't want to mail it off to a stranger for fear the exact coin may not be returned. Can anyone point me in some direction? Robin

Robin Ann McClelland
- Scio, Ohio


A. We've described numerous ways that coins can have a different than normal appearance, Robin: school children electroplate hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of them; hobbyists often patinate them; novelty companies have hundreds of thousands of them professionally stripped or electroplated for promotional giveaways, and they can be discolored by heat and the elements. I'd guess that 99.9999 percent are completely worthless. Still, it's possible for a penny coin blank to be missing it's copper plating. I would guess that, before they are stamped, countless thousands are misplated. So then these blanks are inspected, and it is obviously necessary that the inspection cost no more than one hour of labor for every quarter million pennies or so. So do any slip through? Probably. Is there any chance that it would be worth a dollar or more? I suppose it's vaguely possible but I personally wouldn't pay more than a dime for it. Put it on ebay or give it to a child as a novelty :-)

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

December 5, 2008

Q. I just wanted to say I too have a zinc like 1970D...but will file it down to see if its copper...but if it's not...what should I do next?

Corina C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Los Angeles, California

December 12, 2008

A. Hi, Corina. The odds are very tiny that a zinc penny is valuable because so many pennies have been plated with zinc. But once you file it down, it is worthless :-)

Step 1 is always to take it to somebody who knows something about coins.

Alternately, put it away for your old age, by which time it may be worth something, or maybe over the course of your life you'll become friends with a coin expert :-)

Good luck and Regards,

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

December 14, 2008

Q. Hey, I am a freshman in high school and I was looking through some of my coins I have and I noticed a 1993 penny with a small face of jkf I think. I don't know if it is fake or not but I have heard there were ones like this in 1974 I think.

Abe D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Student - Colorado Springs, Colorado

December 16, 2008

A. Hi, Abe. These stamps are applied by 3rd parties. Not much different than the penny arcade machines where, for a quarter, you can emboss your penny. They are of no value to a collector but some people have listed them for sale for $1. That certainly doesn't mean you'll find a buyer at a dollar though. Good luck.


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

April 3, 2009

Q. My name is w.a. sutton, sitting at home in beautiful western N.C. My question is "none of the four local coin shops can (or will) give me a straight answer on a coin I have". The coin in reference is a 1993 severely double die penny both obverse and reverse. I have searched as well as the cherry pickers guide to no avail. I've had coin collectors look at this coin which all thought it was a unique coin. Any guidance at all would be greatly appreciated. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME AND MAY GOD BLESS.

Wade Sutton
hobbyist - Waynesville, North Carolina

April 10, 2009

A. Hi, Wade. This is a metal finishing site rather than a coin collecting site, and we don't have a picture of the coin you are speaking of. But you know it's a penny, that it's 1993, and that it's double died on both sides; you know four coin shops haven't seen a coin like it, and local coin collectors find it unusual. Sorry if I'm being dense, but what do you want? Do you want someone to appraise it sight unseen when coin experts and enthusiasts who have seen it won't do so?

But good luck with your find! It's interesting, but I don't think the readers will be able to help. Sorry.


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

April 28, 2009

Q. I am a cashier and I recently came across a silver penny while at work. It is from 1957 and is in excellent condition. The silver is almost the same shade as newer quarters. Here lately, we have had customers come in with coins from their private collections, cashing them in to buy things. I just want to know if this may be a misprint or if it is a fake.

Mickelle Cooper
- Mowrystown, Ohio

July 14, 2009

Q. Hi my name is Kelly and I live in Saltlake City Ut. My husband came back with a big gulp and a silver present penny from the local 7-11 this morning. The penny is a 1989 very light weight with a present with a bow where the mint mark should be. Just wondering if this coin is a gimmick or if it is real? Thanks Kelly

Kelly Livingston
- Saltlake City Utah, USA

July 14, 2009

A. Hi; it's a gimmick coin, Kelly.

You can treat such coins like discarded lottery tickets you find on the street. Sure, it's possible that someone had a winning ticket, misread it, and threw it away . . . but not very likely :-)

When you add in that they stamped a bow imprint into this penny you know for sure that it was not the mint that did it.


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

January 1, 2010

Q. I see a bunch of pennies year 2000+ on e-bay missing their copper, selling for $40 or more apiece. One seller has sold about 10 of these "rare" pennies in the last year. While I am almost certain that these are fakes, perhaps the posters on this thread might like to try their chance at making a huge

Perry Bowman
- Baltimore, Maryland

January 5, 2010

thumbs up signHi, Perry. Considering that all pennies were solid copper until 1982, I'm a little suspicious myself of the currently-listed 1980 ebay penny that is "missing its copper plating" :-)


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

May 19, 2010

Q. I have found a silver colored penny from 1996. It has a slightly gold tint at the top on the back side of the penny, but it can be scratched off with my fingernail. What could it be made of?

Lindsey Nash
- Logansport, Indiana

October 12, 2010

A. We have been finding a few silver looking pennies in our work place, a grocery store... To me the coins are plated

Fred McConnell
- Miami Beach, Florida, USA

December 6, 2010

Q. Hello, I found a copper penny on one side 1946, and what seems to be a silver coin (dime?) on the other side dated 1910...with a queen or woman... not Susan B. Have I found something unique or a science project?

Simone Ratley
- Spring Hill, Florida USA

January 4, 2011

Q. My name is Tim and from the Portland, Oregon area. While losing all my coins, little by little throughout the night before Xmas playing pool with my son, I came across a 1982 penny lacking a mint mark, that seemed off color and not that of the usual color; copper.

Today I've cleaned it up a little under the sink's faucet and noticed it to be "off" alignment and I'm unable to locate the mint stamp. The "in God we trust" lettering is riding really high up at the top edge while Lincoln's bottom edge is riding up off the edge.

The color is not copper but a nice dull silver/light grayish tone.


I've looked all over both sides and unable to find the mint letter stamped into either side. I found 4 other pennies and the stamp for the mint letter is below the date.

Thought it to be strange so posted here...

Tim Hollister
Just looking for answers...home owner - Portland area. Oregon

November 28, 2011

Q. I have a 1977 penny; it's copper, however it's blank on the back, I've never seen one like it, Have You? Wondering if anyone has any idea on this penny.

Angie Williams
- Asheville, North Carolina

December 13, 2011

Q. I have a silver colored penny with slight traces of a copper color on the outside edge and no mint mark. I place it on a magnet but there was no attraction. Would you be so kind as to tell me why?


Monty McGee
- Ft. Lauderdale

January 12, 2012

Q. I have a silver colored penny, it's very very shiny, the year is 1974 D. Can't seem to find any info on it.

Nicholas Stitzel
- Hamilton, Ohio, USA

February 28, 2012

Q. I have a couple of zinc/zinc coated 1970D pennies, and also a zinc/zinc coated 1975D penny. They are all uncirculated and I've stored them in protective containers since that time. I recall getting them as some kind of promotional thing when I was a kid. They were attached to a piece of paper with glue. I wish I had not removed the paper, but I did, so now I have no idea where they came from or their significance. I was living in Tulsa at the time, so it might have been a local thing. My dad was working for Mellon bank at the time, and I think he brought them home from a convention of some kind.

I just thought they were cool and have preserved them.

Steve Erbert
- Heath, Texas, USA

April 10, 2012

Q. I worked for a bank for 38 years and in 1977, I was wrapping new pennies from the mint we had just received. I happened to look in the hopper and noticed a silver plated coin. (I thought it was a dime and was thinking how a dime got in with the new pennies) It was a penny in with the other new mint copper pennies. I showed it to my fellow employees and the President of the Bank. I have been trying for years to get information on this coin but, I have never been able to find anything. Can you shed any light on my coin? I have kept it in my vault since 1977!


Jimmy Dix
- Winchester, Virginia

July 9, 2012

Q. Hi my name is bob; found a 1984 quarter with no facing on it. It is either zinc or copper never have seen anything like it. Hope to find information on it, and value of it.

Bob Hopkins
- St.louis, Missouri

1960 Silver Penny

June 4, 2013

Q. I have a 1960 silver penny. I had for over 35 years now. I was just wondering if it was worth anything?

will beatty
- canada

June 10, 2013

!! There are 2 years that pennies were silver in color. These were made during the war and, for lack of copper due to the war and making bullets out of copper, these were made. Any penny collection book will have a place to put this penny in. Whoever has been posting these are fake needs to go look at the 2 years they were silver in color. Don't know what they were made of, maybe silver but I doubt it, probably zinc. These 2 years that these were made makes them cool but probably not worth much. Anyone with a penny collection book will see the 2 years that you snap the penny in its spot. I would tell you which years if my coin collection were here and not in the safe deposit box with the coins that are of value. The two years they were made is in the wheat time I believe (40's maybe). I think they are zinc. I do have a 1988 penny colored silver penny with the present on it, which is very light. I don't even keep it with the coin collection, but I agree that it is not rare but some sort of promotional thing, and apparently across different years and of mass production Ask an old war vet and I'm sure they will know the dates of real ones for the 2 years.

Gina Shirley
- Spring Hill Florida

June 17, 2013

Thanks Gina. The main year was 1943. The pennies are a steel core with zinc plating. I didn't realize that there was a second year, but according to Wikipedia there was an error and there were a few steel cents pressed in 1944, and they are very valuable.


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

July 11, 2013

Q. I had one, and now have two, 1996 P Washington quarters. I have had several coin dealers and others look at them and no one can agree on what exactly they are. Both coins have a space on Washington's eye and nose area that are non existent. Also there are two spots in his hair and ear that are missing. Starting just behind his head are a series of very fine lines that disappear into his head, show up in the spaces in his ear and hair and then again strongly through the areas of his eye and nose. Disappear under the bridge of his nose and then continue again beyond. Please, any feedback would be appreciated.

Santos Luna
- Waco Texas U.S.

January 5, 2014

A. I do not believe the silver colored penny isn't worth anything I have one and I have been researching it for awhile and I found a few like it going for $1,000.00 or more. So don't let someone tell you it's not worth anything and say but I will trade you something for it "Just so they like the color". Right.

Lynette McCormick
- Houston, Texas, USA

January 18, 2014

Q. I have a 1996 penny that is silver on the front and copper colored on the back is it worth anything

Daniel Lee
- Senoia, Georgia, USA

April 9, 2014

Q. I have a 2003 penny that looks to be silver. Very good shape and very shiny; I was wondering the value and why it is "silver". I can't find any info on it.

Shaun Prosise
- Mt. Carmel Illinois USA

May 16, 2014

Q. I have a 1966 penny (silver in color) and it is in a little blown glass bottle. Does anyone have any info on this?

Mitchell L Cole
- coosbay, Oregon

Silver penny 1998

June 15, 2014

Q. I have a 1998 Silver penny with the A and the M close together and NO copper marks at all. Is this rare and does it have any value?

9941-3a 9941-3b

I also have a 2009 copper penny with a picture of a log cabin on the back of it and Lincoln on the front. Never saw 1 of those before either.

Any info would be appreciated.

Peg Lennon
- Abington, Massachusetts USA

July 5, 2014

Q. Hi all. I found a silver looking 1968 S lincoln penny. I got a little ambitious and scratched the rim with a knife. I did not find any copper color whatsoever. Any help would be appreciated. I did see a few pics of plated pennies however mine seems to be same tone even where I scratched it.

9941-2a 9941-2b

Roy Brown
- Gig harbor, Washington US

December 25, 2014

Q. I have a 1969 penny that looks silver. A regular 1970 penny weighed 2.5 grams, the silver looking one weighs 3.6 grams -- are these fake? No sign of copper anywhere. Are these worth anything or just face value?

Jeffrey B
- ishpeming Michigan USA

December 2014

A. Hi Jeffrey. It is interesting to note that if a penny were made out of silver it would weigh 3.6 grams and that the last U.S. silver coins were made in 1969 -- such that it could be vaguely possible that this coin was accidentally struck on a silver blank instead of a copper blank. In that case it probably would be worth quite a lot. But I've also heard of fraud on the specific subject of 1969 silver pennies -- so I wouldn't get my hopes up too much. Try Archimedes experiment to prove it's really made of a metal heavier than copper before spending any money on certification efforts. Good luck.

P.S.: But there's something wrong with your scale. A 1970 penny weighs 3.11 grams because pennies were made of copper in those days, not the 2.5 gram copper plated zinc of today.


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

May 28, 2015

Q. I came across a 1983-d zinc mint-error penny. I've tried doing some research and came up with nothing. I find it to be in very good condition.

Andrew barnhart
- Charlotte hall, Maryland, USA

July 24, 2015

Q. I have a 1988 penny thats weighs in at 5.8; looks to be steel has a copper coating on it. Any information you can give me is greatly appreciated.

Richard Groesbeck
- glensfalls New York United states

July 2015

A. Hi. Steel is magnetic -- did you check that? Steel is lighter than copper, not heavier, so I can't see how a steel "penny" could weigh almost twice as much as a copper one. I still feel that 99.99+% of "unusual" pennies are worthless, but if you have 10,000 unusual pennies and this is the most unusual one, maybe you've found something :-)
Simple things like making sure you've got the weight exactly right, and determining whether it's magnetic, should be done before you start investing money into having the coin assessed.

Luck and regards,

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

April 11, 2017

Q. 2003 silver penny received this as change ... what's the reasoning behind this?

9941-4b  9941-4a

Cody Moseley
- Whitesville, Kentucky, us

A. Hi Cody. Students have been zinc plating copper pennies for science projects by the tens of thousands for decades, so although that is not the only possible explanation, I'd guess it's the most probable.

May 9, 2018

Q. I have a penny which tests at 90%, can you tell me where to find more information?

9941-5a   9941-5b
Looking for information on 1953 silver (90% silver) wheat penny

Barry Knowles
- Joelton , Tennessee

August 26, 2018

Q. I have a penny that is copper on one side and silver on the other ... worth anything ?

Kim carr
- Temagami Ontario

August 2018

A. Hi Kim. You'd have to take it to a coin dealer to learn anything. It is so easy to plate a bit of copper, zinc, or silver onto a penny that countless thousands of elementary school kids have done it. There's probably no way for us to tell from a picture, or for an amateur to know from a quick look, whether it's a kid's science project or something actually unusual from the mint.


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

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