The last Canadian penny was minted today. So what can you do with your Canadian pennies from now on? Well, that depends on what year you have pennies from due to composition changes and historical values. Here are a few thoughts.
The composition of the penny has changed drastically over the years, and because of that, the year you have pennies from makes the greatest difference. Historical value really only come into effect for really old pennies, in which case you already have kept them aside for their historical value. The rest are just pennies, and that’s where the year influence kicks into effect.
Between 1908-1920, the Canadian penny’s metal composition was 95.5% copper, 1.5% zinc, and 3% tin. You should have these saved already for historical value. For trivia purposes, the Canadian 1 cent coin then weighed in at 5.67 grams and had a diameter of 25.4 mm.
In 1920, the size of the Canadian penny shrank. The Canadian one cent coin now had a diameter of a mere19.05 mm. and a weight of 3.24 grams, but the metal composition remained the same. Just a density matter, I guess. Keep these for historical purposes, too, of course.
In 1942 the Canadian 1 cent coin’s metal composition was altered to consist of 98 percent copper, 1.75 percent zinc and .5 percent tin. I’d keep these if they’re in mint condition. Otherwise, consider melting these for the copper up to pennies made in 1996… though don’t tell anyone, of course! It’s a FEDERAL offense in Canada to tamper with currency!
Here’s the math for getting out the value of copper:
At 3.24 grams per penny, and 98% copper, you theoretically need 303 pennies to get 1 kg of copper. So that’d be $3.03 for a kg of copper from the pennies.
On the day of writing, London Metal Exchange, copper is going for about $8.50 per kg! Of course, it will cost you some fuel and lots of equipment to melt and extract the copper, but if you have it handy, it’s a killing of a return on investment! And that price is only going to get higher with time as you see copper thieves snatching copper from everywhere! It’s a far better return than saving them for historical value down the road. I know that’s a ridiculous requirement to have a foundry to melt and extract copper, but that’s why I’m writing this article without fear anyone would actually follow my advice… and get me in trouble.
The Canadian Mint recognized this rising metal cost fact many years ago and probably converted when the raw materials cost of the penny became more than its monetary worth. That would have been in 1997, when the metals within the Canadian one cent coin were designed in 1997 to no longer consist mainly of copper. Canadian pennies from 1997-1999 became 98.4 percent zinc and 1.6 percent copper plate, just to keep the appearance it was copper. It did look rather fake, though, I must say. I remember looking at the new pennies and thinking that, even though I didn’t know the copper composition had changed so drastically. I remembered the weight change, as well. It was noticeably lighter.
In 2000, the Canadian pennies compostion changed to 94 percent steel, 4.5 percent copper plate, and 1.5 percent nickel. The Canadian penny’s modern weight coming in at 2.25 grams and the diameter of the coin’s surface measuring 19.05 mm.
So what do you do with all these new pennies? Why, spend them, of course! You will probably do the same for the old pennies cause chances are, you don’t have a foundry to extract copper from those old pennies. But remember, if you do, SHHHHH!!!!