Will the U.S. Penny Go Away?

Hard to imagine, the cost of precious metals has risen so much lately that it costs the U.S. Mint more than penny -- about 1.4 cents -- to make one. The problem: What the mint uses to make the penny is mostly zinc, a metal whose rising value and recent demand may make it obsolete one day.

Even worse, pennies are more higher demand than ever. The U.S. Mint made almost 8 billion of them last year, more than the sum of all the other coins it produced. And 2006 are on pace for 9 billion, the highest amount made in five years.

Because it's become cost-prohibitive to produce pennies, Congress will probably get involved at some point. One option America used during World War II when copper was in short supply: Steel.

If you see a penny like the one on the right, KEEP IT, as this penny was minted before 1964 and is actually copper, thus it is worth two to three times as much.

However, if you have a dime, quarter or half-dollar from before 1964 it is 40 percent silver. With the price of silver at $13 an ounce, these coins are worth TEN TIMES their face value. So a 50-cent piece has $5 worth of silver in it and a dime $1 of silver.

New York Times April 22, 2006 Registration Required

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