Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A penny for your thoughts...

With the celebration of the 4th of July coming we thought we'd mention something to do with our country's history - so we chose the penny! And how does it link to fasteners? The metal!
Because of the nature of our business we learn lots of things about the different properties of different metals, like zinc, copper & bronze, and the penny's history includes all of them.  The material composition of the penny has changed over the years and we're sharing it with you today; a highlight on a tiny aspect of our nation's history.

Following is a brief chronology of the metal composition of the cent coin - aka the penny - taken straight from the U.S. Mint Website:
  • 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. You can read more about the rare, collectible 1943 copper penny in "What's So Special about the 1943 Copper Penny.")
  • 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. 
Also there is a lot of debate over the penny - apparently it may not always be around because of how unprofitable it is to manufacture these days in part due to the material. The cost of making the pennies (1.26 cents each) is higher than face value, and the melt value of pennies ranges from more than 2.4 cents for the pre-1982 copper pennies, to nearly a full cent for the zinc pennies. But don't worry. The people over at pennies.org - Americans for Common Cents - is devoted to protecting it.  I wish them the best because of love seeing Honest Abe on my coins!

So for tomorrow:

Happy 4th of July people! 
Happy Birthday USA!

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