As of 2015, zinc, copper and nickel are used for making coins in the United States. Historically, a variety of metals have been used to make coins.Continue Reading
The earliest metal coins, which were made of small bronze pieces, originated in China in 1500 B.C. and were used for trade, while coins with guarantees, which often served as a promise to the government, originated in 650 B.C.
The value of coins was most often chosen based on the value of the metals used to make them, as well as the durability of those metals. In the United States, gold and silver were once used in coin making, but as a result of the increasing cost of these metals, as of 2015, they are used only for making bullion coins and collector coins.Learn more about Coins & Currency
Pennies in the United States were made of pure copper from 1793 to 1837, and then contained varying amounts of copper throughout the years before converting to a majority 97.5 percent zinc in 1982. At that point, the penny continued to be made with a small 2.5 percent copper.Full Answer >
Some examples of rare U.S. coins include the 1793 half cent, the 1937-D 3 leg buffalo nickel, the 1800 bust half dime, the 1796 bust dime, the 1870-CC seated liberty quarter, the 1795 bust half, the 1893-S Morgan silver dollar and the 1926-D twenty dollar gold coin. Collectors determine rarity for a coin based on its year, location of minting, condition and the total number minted.Full Answer >
Since the U.S. Mint dates all coins it produces, collectors consider a Buffalo Indian Head nickel with the date rubbed off as a low-grade coin likely worth about 50 cents. The intrinsic value of the metal in the coins is around 5 cents, as of 2014.Full Answer >
Quarters and dimes minted by the U.S. Mint contained silver up until 1964, when the precious metal was removed in favor of a more economical composition: copper and nickel. Washington quarters and Roosevelt dimes minted through 1964 contained 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.Full Answer >