I have been holding back on writing this, but it just won't go away.
The following is from the U.S. Mint site, my comments follow
The Composition of the Cent
Following is a brief chronology of the metal composition of the cent coin (penny):
- The composition was pure copper from 1793 to 1837.
- From 1837 to 1857, the cent was made of bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc).
- From 1857, the cent was 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel, giving the coin a whitish appearance.
- The cent was again bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc) from 1864 to 1962.
(Note: In 1943, the coin's composition was changed to zinc-coated steel. This change was only for the year 1943 and was due to the critical use of copper for the war effort. However, a limited number of copper pennies were minted that year.
- In 1962, the cent's tin content, which was quite small, was removed. That made the metal composition of the cent 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.
- The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc). Cents of both compositions appeared in that year.
If you go back to 1981, the year before the penny started to be made out of the same stuff as multivitamins, you may remember these are rather heavy by value. How heavy? It takes 160 of them (pre-'82) the give you a full pound of copper. That's it. $1.60 in pennies contained a pound of copper. Right now, a pound of copper trades for just under $3.00. And, of course, it takes many more than 160 "new" pennies to get a pound of copper out. Maybe the pennies aren't becoming more expensive, maybe it's the paper currency becoming cheaper. Our new Fed Chairman "Helicopter" Ben Bernanke has promised that deflation (prices decline, therefore dollars buy more goods) will not occur.
Here is an excerpt from his speech in Nov 2002 titled:
... Like gold, U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation...
I'm of the opinion that there is NOTHING positive about my money losing value. Ever. Hold on to your old pennies... and your old silver coins too. I guess on the way down we will reach parity with the canadian dollar and then the mexican peso. Then we can justify having one United North American currency. (In the name of "freedom", "security" and "democracy", of course) Maybe even call it the "UNA" or better, "El Dolar Norte". When they're done spinning it, the average citizen will be sure it's a wonderful idea. They are letting in those future supporting voters right now. And if you are against it, you will be called a racist xenophobe. Or maybe something will "happen" to you like so often does to opposition candidates in a certain country, south of here.