nickels

Roosevelt DimeLooking back to last year, 2009 was filled with a roller-coaster of events relating to the coin collecting world. Among the many highlights, new coin releases such as the Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollar and the four redesigned 2009 Lincoln Cents are sure to be recalled by anyone even slightly familiar with the hobby.

The sharp US Mint June coin production increases may further jog the memory, reminding collectors of the historically low mintage levels in 2009. For the entire year, just 3,548,000,000 circulating coins were produced.

In comparison, 2008 had a production total of more than 10.1 billion and 2007 came in even higher over 14.4 billion. In fact, the last time the US Mint had circulating strikes at such a low level was forty-plus years ago.

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Coin production chart collageThe US Mint has updated coin production figures through to April 2009, and the data indicates a further slide for circulating change.

Rather than offer a hodge-podge of numbers that make it difficult to see and compare mintage levels for modern coinage, the included charts visually show trends for a quick analysis.

The US Mint has already said fewer coins will be struck this year. Had the Mint remained silent, it would still be a simple deduction to realize that 2009-dated pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters should be much, much scarcer.

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US Mint Halts 2009 Nickels and Dimes ProductionThe United States Mint has halted production of circulating 2009 Jefferson nickels and 2009 Roosevelt dimes for the rest of this year, according to the latest issue of Coin World. As the dime and nickel production graphs show, the stoppage creates historic, staggering low mintages for the two coins — levels not seen since the 50s.

Coin Word’s Paul Gilkes reports the US Mint made the announcement on April 23, and included details of a scale back in producing for other circulating coins, like the three remaining 2009 Lincoln Pennies.

It’s not that the public or collectors dislike the new coins. Quite the opposite, in fact. Collector demand for 2009 circulating coinage is exceptionally high. It’s all about the recession. It has, by itself, significantly eroded demand for new coins in every day transactions.

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Steel PenniesLegislation to change the metallic composition of the penny and nickel to a less expensive copper-colored steel passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on May 8, 2008.

However, the plunge in base metal prices since could very well end the legislation’s chances of moving forward in the Senate.

The goal of the bill, which it titled Coin Modernization and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2008 – H.R. 5512, was directed toward saving money after high copper prices pushed production costs of the penny up to about 1.26 cents and the nickel to about 7.7 cents.

Since May, copper prices have fallen to where the melt value of a penny is now under a half cent and the nickel is just slightly higher than 5 cents — the U.S. Mint now makes money issuing pennies and almost breaks even with nickels.

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Katie Couric, CBS Evening News anchor, today discussed in her "Notebook" commentary the costs to mint pennies and nickel, and the recently passed House legislation to make these coins from steel. Although nothing new was offered in her commentary that hasn’t already been discussed in similar numismatic articles, like Current and 2007 Costs to Mint […]

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Stack of U.S. coinsOne of the pleasant side affects of the Coin Modernization and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2008, which would change the metallic composition of pennies and nickels to steel, is the revelation of current and past costs in minting coins.

Figures of coin production expenses are interesting in themselves, but charting their trends is another reminder of the volatility of metals within coins, like that of copper, zinc and nickel.

The cost of minting each penny and nickel today are:

  • Penny at 1.26 cents
  • Nickel at 7.7 cents

As a side note, the U.S. Mint also provided recent costs to mint the dime, which is 4 cents, the quarter at 10 cents and $1 coins at 16 cents each.

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Steel PenniesThe House debated on the legislation and finally voted yesterday to change the metallic composition of the penny and 5-cent nickel to a less expensive copper-colored steel.

Although the prices of copper, zinc and nickel metals in coins have declined in recent months, the penny and 5-cent nickel still cost more to make than what they’re worth—resulting in a reported loss of about $100 million every year, or $1 billion over a decade.

It now costs about 1.26 cents to make the penny and about 7.7 cents to make the nickel.

House bill “H.R. 5512, the Coin Modernization and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2008” would seek to change those manufacturing costs by using copper-colored steal, which could cut the cost of making pennies down to about 0.7 cents each. But its recent passage in the House is no guarantee it’ll make its way to the White House for signing.

H.R. 5512 must still go through the Senate and then the President, and not everyone is happy with the current legislation.

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The debate to change the metal composition of U.S. coinage was waged on the House floor Tuesday. With the surging prices of metals like zinc and copper, it now costs more than a penny to make a penny and about 7.7 cents to make a nickel. A new House bill entitled "H.R. 5512, the Coin […]

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The cost to manufacture pennies and nickels exceeds their face value. A newly introduced House bill would change the metal composition in coins to make them profitable again.

Pennies and Copper The newly introduced bill is not a new concept. A similar bill received attention late last year. The ‘Coin Modernization and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2007‘ failed to get through the gates when a mini firestorm erupted. Mostly because the bill contained more than what its name implied – a provision that would allow citizens to melt pennies.

That portion of the bill proved to be controversial. Why? The U.S. Treasury implemented a ban on melting 1-cent and 5-cent coins that went into effect just months earlier with a stated objective to save money.

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5-cent nickels contain 75% copper and 25% nickel. 1-cent pennies contain 2.5% copper with the remaining zinc. The price of these metals have each gone up significantly and for over a year now, their melt value has been worth more than their real value. Or, more to the point, it costs the U.S. government more […]

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