Which Elements Are Used for Making Coins?

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Copper, zinc, nickel, gold, manganese and silver are the elements used for making coins. Common U.S. coins, such as the penny and dime, are made mostly of copper.

The penny has a copper core with zinc plating. It is made up of 2.5 percent copper and 97.5 percent zinc. Nickels, dimes, quarters and half-dollars are all made of copper and nickel. The nickel contains 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper. The other three coins are all 8.33 percent nickel and 91.67 percent copper. The Native American $1 coin and Presidential $1 coin are both made of copper, zinc, manganese and nickel.

The United States Mint has also used silver and gold to make coins. Two examples of U.S. coins made with these elements are the 1907 double-eagle gold coin and the American eagle silver bullion coin.