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How Much Does a Penny Weigh?

How much does a penny weigh? Currently, a penny weighs 2.5 grams, but that has not always been the case. Read on to learn more about the development of the penny and to see how it has changed.

How Much Does a Penny Weigh?

The first pennies were made in 1793 and were 100 percent copper. From 1857 to 1864, they were 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel. From 1864 to 1942 they were 94 percent copper and 6 percent tin and zinc. All of these early pennies weighed 3.1 grams.

In 1943, pennies were made of steel coated with zinc and they weighed 2.7 grams. From 1944 to 1981, pennies were 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc, weighing in at 3.1 grams. From 1982 to present, pennies are now 97.6 percent zinc and 2.4 percent copper and weigh 2.5 grams.

There were a few variations after 1944 between the amount of amount of zinc and copper, but not enough to mention. In summary, pennies weighed 3.1 grams from 1793 to 1981, except for the year 1943, when they weighed 2.7 grams.

British Penny

There could be another answer to the question "How much does a penny weigh?" when referring to a British penny since they weigh 3.56 grams and were originally made of bronze. Since 1992, it has been made of copper plated steel. It was first issued by the Royal Mint in 1971 and there are more than 10 billion in circulation.

The original penny had the image of Queen Elizabeth's head on the front, or obverse side. She was wearing a Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara. From 1985 to 1997, she wears the George IV State Diadem. From 1998 to the present, the head used was drawn by Ian Rank-Broadley and she has the tiara on again.

The reverse side of the British penny, from 1971 to 2008, had a portcullis (a latticed gate) with a crown on it and chains on either side. The numeral 1 is printed below the portcullis. Between 1971 and 1981, the words "NEW PENNY" were printed at the bottom and between 1982 and 2008, the words "ONE PENNY" were printed there. In 2008, the reverse was changed and shows three sections of the Royal shield.

What is the Metal Worth in Coins?

Now that you know the answer to your question "How much does a penny weigh?" you may wonder if the metals it is made of is worth more than a penny. Since the price of metals changes over time, sometimes a coin can be worth more if you melt it down and sell the metal but at other times, it is worth more as currency. Here is the metal value of the copper, zinc, and nickel in the following coins. This information is based on market value as of 9-24-2010. Values were truncated at four decimal places.

1909 - 1981 penny 0.0236
1946 - 2010 nickel 0.0581
1982 - 2010 penny 0.0058
1965 - 2010 dime 0.0207
1965 - 2010 quarter 0.0518
1971 - 2010 half dollar 0.1036
1971 - 1978 Eisenhower dollar 0.2073
1971 - 1981, 1999 S.B.A. dollar 0.0740
2000 - 2010 - Sacagawea dollar 0.0261
2007 - 2010 - Presidential dollar 0.0261

In case you are wondering about the value of the silver in older coins, here is that information. As of 9-24-2010, this is the value of the silver in these coins.

1942 - 1945 nickel $1.2074
1916 - 1945 Mercury dime $1.5523
1946 - 1964 Roosevelt dime $1.5523
1916 - 1930 Standing Liberty quarter $3.8809
1932 - 1964 Washington quarter $3.8809
1916 - 1947 half dollar $7.7619
1948 - 1963 Franklin half dollar $7.7619
1964 Kennedy half dollar $7.7619
1965 - 1970 half dollar 40% silver 3.1737
1878 - 1921 Morgan dollar 16.5982
1921 - 1935 Peace dollar 16.5982
1971 - 1976 Eisenhower dollar 40 percent silver 6.7863

The U.S. Mint no longer put silver in coins after 1964 except for these Eisenhower dollars made for collectors.