Could a few pennies make you a fortune? -

Pennies worth a small fortune

Our parents taught us the value of saving our change. The coins add up, but some are more valuable than others. 

"The price of copper moved up so much during the late 70's, they no longer could afford to use copper as the main base metal," said Ron Mirr, owner of Liberty Coins near Richmond, Virginia. 

So for the past 30 years, pennies have been made with an alloy comprised of 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper, but pennies minted before 1982 are 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.

The price of copper has more than quadrupled over the past 10 years. A penny produced before 1982 is worth 2.2 based on the metal it contains. 

In 2007, the U.S. Mint outlawed melting down pennies for profit, fearing a coin shortage and the cost to replace those coins. Last year, the U.S. Mint made more than four billion pennies, each one costing 2.4 cents to create.   

"Because of the price of base metals getting more expensive, I could see them eventually probably doing away with the penny," Mirr said.  

There is a small market for pre-1982 pennies. On eBay, a lot of 5,000 pennies has a face value of $50, but it will sell for $60. 

"The coins before 1982 in uncirculated rolls, they'll probably see in 15 or 20 years, those rolls could double or triple in value," Mirr explained. 

A few buyers are holding out hope that the U.S. Mint will one day get rid of the penny and their collection will pay off. 

Copyright 2012 America Now.  All rights reserved. 

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