DailyDirt: How Much Are Coins Worth?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

While early coins represented the value of the metal they were made of, modern day coins are issued by the government and their value is determined by free market currency exchange rates. Ideally the value of a coin should be higher than the cost of the metals used to make it, but when the price of metals, like copper, increases, pennies can end up being worth more for their metal. For example, the Canadian government has officially stopped distributing pennies because not only do they cost almost 1.6 cents per penny to produce, but most people think pennies are worthless. But are they? Here are a few more interesting coin-related stories.

If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: How Much Are Coins Worth?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pennies ARE effectively worthless...

If you need a reason to pick up a penny off the streets, how about “do it for the animals”.


Pennies and other small coins are sometimes ingested by dogs, resulting in the need for medical treatment to remove the foreign body. The zinc content of some coins can cause zinc toxicity, which is commonly fatal in dogs, where it causes a severe hemolytic anemia, and also liver or kidney damage; vomiting and diarrhea are possible symptoms.[199] Zinc is highly toxic in parrots and poisoning can often be fatal.[200] The consumption of fruit juices stored in galvanized cans has resulted in mass parrot poisonings with zinc.

Source: Wikipedia: Zinc

Although Zinc is very important for biological systems, excess of it can cause death and many small animals swallow those coins.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Pennies ARE effectively worthless...

I never liked this logic. Say i make 36 an hour, i’m only getting paid that while i’m working. so I i pick up a penny while i’m off the clock my hourly rate is effectly $0. I guess you could assume i could be working instead of pick up a penny but i’m only gonna work so many hours no matter what. but even while i’m working i’ve effectly increased my rate for that hour from 36 to 36.01. The only way this wouldn’t be worth my time is if you assume that i would not get paid the full amount of my regular pay if i stopped to pick up a penny. but i’ve already got the $36 per hour weather i pick up the penny or not so i’m just losing out on the penny by not picking it up.

Rabbit80 says:

Re: Re:

Here in the UK we have rules on how many coins you can use as well…

Coins are legal tender up to the following amounts:
?1 (or above) – for any amount
50p – for any amount not exceeding ?10
25p (Crown) – for any amount not exceeding ?10
20p – for any amount not exceeding ?10
10p – for any amount not exceeding ?5
5p – for any amount not exceeding ?5
2p – for any amount not exceeding 20p
1p – for any amount not exceeding 20p

Next time I buy a car, I will have to see if I can pay in ?1 coins!

out_of_the_blue says:

Knowledge FAIL.

“modern day coins are issued by the government and their value is determined by free market currency exchange rates.”

No, it’s fiat currency. The face value of the coins is no more related to metal prices than are the same numbers put on a piece of paper. — The value of the metal coins are made from is (vaguely) determined by markets, ones always manipulated by RICH speculators, not free markets. Besides that, the “gold” traded on Wall Street for instance, isn’t in physical possession but on paper, or even just numbers in a computer.

With so much definitely wrong in just one paragraph, your understanding of gov’t and Wall Street financial shenanigans is near zero.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Knowledge FAIL.

There are at least 4 different versions of value that one coin could have.

1) the face value determined by the US treasury.

2) The metal value, determined by free market.

3) How many Twinkies I could buy with it, determined by free market

4) The currency exchange rate, determined by how strong the American Dollar is compared to other countries in a free market.

So, I agree with you; Knowledge fail. Usually you’re not kind enough to label your own posts properly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Knowledge FAIL.

I will help you blue.


Fiat money is money that derives its value from government regulation or law.

Source: Wikipedia: Fiat currency

The value on the face of the coin is the value that the “authority” say it was, Fiat Currencies are based on trust, a government says the value of that money is 1, that it is one, the government assures everyone that that value will be honored.

Fiat currency is like virtual currencies, is only good if people trust the thing otherwise is worthless.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Knowledge FAIL.

All money is fiat currency. Money is a symbol of wealth but is not wealth — you can’t eat it, drink it, drive it or (unless you have an absurd amount of it) use it as physical shelter.

Gold has value because everybody agrees it’s worth something. Dollar bills have value because everybody agrees they’re worth something. The fact that a government invented the bills doesn’t make them any more inherently valuable or worthless than gold ingots.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good ol Thomas was wrong on this one, the money should never be allowed to go bellow zero is a nightmare to calculate those fractions.

About the value of the penny well they are worth something, copper and zinc are both valuable metals, with which you can do a lot of interesting things.

Youtube: Make Glow in the Dark Powder (Zinc Sulfide)

Anonymous Coward says:

A decade of pain: The only foot surgeon in Nova Scotia has waiting list 3,500 names long


Wendy Berringer?s feet are killing her. They hurt when she stands, when she walks and when she sits, which is what she was doing Tuesday, in her favourite rocking chair in her Halifax home, telling me about her bunions, a tiny broken bone in her left foot and her creaking left ankle, which cracks and groans and aches, causing her all manner of grief.

?I had my first appointment with my family doctor for my feet in 2002,? she says. ?The original problem was my bunions. They rub in your shoes and you can?t walk properly. They are very sore. My family doctor made me an appointment to see a foot surgeon in Halifax to get the problem fixed.

?That was 11 years ago.?

In what seems like a parody of complaints over medicare waiting lists, Wendy Berringer is still, 11 years later, waiting for that appointment.

Mike Coady says:


Australia has removed 1 cent an 2 cent coins from circulation many years ago, when visiting USA I find when given change that is in lesser denomination you pocket fills very quickly. There is no need in 2013 to have denominations so small. Tax in Australia is added to an item before the item is sold. By adding tax after woods you end up with stupid situation. Haven’t the people of America convinced their Government of this waste.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Legal Tender

because he engaged in conduct that is not orderly !!!… go figure!!

I am sure it was not the person behind the counter that fined him the $25, and they have better things to do with their time and YOUR money than performing an act that had spite and inconvenience as it’s intent. I really hope that guy spend some pleasant hours before taking the money in counting it himself to make sure he had the right value.

Kind of stupid really, and backfired big time for him, should people pay for their stupidity, hell yes. Starting with idiots like that.

Anonymous Coward says:

I guess this just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s exactly like going from metric to imperial. It complicates calculations for no good reason.

It’s like forcing children to use math using only multiples of five (as the nickel would be the smallest denomination left) because any number less than five isn’t worth bothering with.

They have options to make pennies cheaper to produce. I prefer those to getting rid of them, unless there’s a better reason than I’ve seen so far.

Theodore Smith (user link) says:

American Mint is a scam!

Read the fine print on the American Mint website!!!

Sure, you can buy a fake trillion dollar coin for $9.95 (I did). Cool, huh?

But look at their fine print: “Should you decide to keep your preview item, it will be charged at the regular price ($79.95) to your credit card after your 20 day preview period.”

What you thought you were getting for $9.95 + $4.95 shipping suddenly became $94.85.

When I immediately called them to cancel my order, the woman said she couldn’t find my order (!!) and wouldn’t cancel it!

Can you say, “Scam!!!”?

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