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1982 cent composition varieties


Finn235
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I've been trying to get my hands on as many of the old copper cents as I reasonably can, mostly for the metal content. So far I've amassed a rather impressive hoard, but I have noticed that '82 seems to be one of the most common dates in circulation. I know that a number of these coins were made both in both copper and zinc varieties, but the problem is, it is proving rather difficult to tell them apart at times. The only way I can think of determining for certain is to scratch down and see if I hit the zinc center (which I will not do for obvious reasions).

 

Does anybody know an easy way to tell whether an '82 cent has a zinc core or not? I have noticed that the older, copper cents have a lighter, browner color to them when they are well-circulated, and a more reddish color when uncirculated, whereas newer cents turn a darker brown or have a lighter, almost yellowish luster when new. I looked it up online, and the only way I found to tell is that there were no '82-D cents made with a small date.

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The weight for the zinc cent is 2.5 grams and 3.11 grams for the copper based cents. OK so you don't have a scale...make a balance with a tongue depressor. Balance it on something like a film canister with a known copper cent on each side. Mark the center line on the depressor and the base canister/pencil whatever. Then keep the copper cent on one side and off you go.

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I've seen Art's device suggested a few times but I've never tried it myself.

 

I think 1982 is at once one of the most annoying years to collectors and most interesting. The latter because of the 4 main varieties that remind you that metal content still matters and that font changes are noticeable.

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  • 1 month later...
My solution is I toss all the 82s into the junk bin and only save the ones from 1981 and before for my copper hoard (now up to about 7,000!).

 

I go the other way and toss all of the '82s into the hold bin.

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The zinc coins melt in a fire much sooner than the copper one will.

Next time you go camping put some Zincons on log in the fire, it's fun to watch.

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I have a hard time with the large and small dates, but determining copper from zinc is easy. Just flip the coin (as in "heads I win, tails you lose"). If it makes a ringing sound it's copper. If it makes a dull thud it's zinc.

 

Try it with an 81 and an 83 to get the sounds right.

 

 

Huh! Well I'll be darned! I never thought of trying that, but it works! Now it's time to throw out the junk '82 pennies.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have noticed something odd as I've been testing the '82 cents i've come across. I have tried flipping them to see if they make the correct sound, and out of 50-100 that I've gone through from an old jar of change, I have only found about 3 zinc cents. I was under the impression that about half of the total mintage figures went to each composition variety. Was I mistaken?

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It think I've mentioned this several hundred times in the past. There is a really easy, cheap method to tell the difference.

You start with a standard pencil. The six sided ones are the best for the reason to follow. Now take a popsicle or ice creame bar stick and balance it at one end of the pencil. Place a drop of glue on the stick at that point so it stays there. The reason for the six sided pencil is it is easier to balance the stick if the pencil is not moving. Make sure you eat the stuff of the stick first of course.

Now you have what is known as a balanced beam scale. You place a recent, post 82 cent at one end of the stick, glue it in place so it stays in place. Now any cent of any year you place at the other end will do one of two things. If it is a Copper Cent, it will drop since it is heavier than the other side. If a Copper Plated Zinc one, it will balance or almost due to some wear it may not exactly, but should come close to balancing.

Of course you can do this in reverse. Place a pre 1982 cent at one end and any other cent placed on the opposite end will not move if not pure Copper. If a pure Copper cent, it will balance.

Just remember to eat the ice creame first if using thoes sticks.

Once you start doing this it becomes easier and easier so you could do many of them in one sitting and in a few minutes.

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