What A Pretty Penny! U.S. Copper Coins Can Enhance Your Collection

Gold and silver coins may have been the currency of kings, but the average person handled a lot of copper. Copper was easier to find than gold or silver and easy to work, so it has been shaped over the centuries into tools, jewelry, and (of course) coins. Copper coins have a particularly rich history in the United States. If you're interested in exploring U.S. coins for your collection, consider adding some of these copper pieces to your collection.

1.) The Half-Cent Piece

One of the first coins produced in the United States, the half-cent piece produced in 1793 was pure copper. Because only 35,334 pieces were minted that year, even a low-quality piece can be worth several hundred dollars. Half-cent pieces still had a lot of use in the early era of the colonial market. A pound of potatoes, for example, could be had for a cent and a half.

2.) The One-Cent Piece

The U.S. one-cent piece, also known by the English pseudonym as a "penny," has been composed mostly of zinc with only 2.5% copper content since 1982. However, the ordinary penny produced prior to that year was 95% copper. While the use of pennies has declined over years (and may eventually stop, if the U.S. follows the patterns of nations like Canada), pennies were actually once quite important to commerce. The average tradesman at the start of 1900, for example, earned $.37 per hour and a pound of rice could be had for a mere $.07.

3.) The Two-Cent Piece

Many people aren't even aware that the U.S. ever had a two-cent copper piece. Produced only from 1864-1873, the coin started out popular but faded out of circulation fairly quickly. This unusual copper coin has a shield underneath a banner that proclaims "In God We Trust" on the front and a wheat wreath on the back with a prominent "2" in the center. Many of them were bought back by the government and melted down, making this an interesting coin to add to any collection. 

4.) The Flying Eagle

The Flying Eagle is a somewhat unique one-cent piece, comprised of 88% copper (with the rest being nickel), and it was minted only from 1856-1858. It derives its name from the graceful bird in flight on the front of the coin. The only Flying Eagles minted in 1856, were pattern coins, which means they were strictly prototypes that hadn't yet been approved for circulation. Since this coin was only in mass production for two years, it is a relatively rare coin, in any condition. 

Finding something like a pre-1982 penny might just be a matter of keeping your eyes on the change that you get from the grocery store or the bank, but some of the other copper coins are harder to come by. A little investigation into local coin dealers and a search through online dealers, however, can probably turn up what you're interested in buying. Contact a business, such as Penny Pincher Coins & Jewelry, for more information.