A pocketful of loose change can feel like a pocketful of treasure. Those shiny gold- and silver-coloured coins jangle so nicely when there’s plenty of them in reach. Even if coins mostly represent small amounts of money, it’s easy to imagine them as being much more valuable. So how much are they really worth, when you forget about their official value?
We’ve all heard stories of pirates with chests of gold and bags of silver. In fact, gold coins were used as far back as 643 BC. Today, your coins are more likely to be made of copper or zinc – but these metals also come at a cost!
Most national mints are pretty careful to make sure the value of their coins is mainly symbolic. Over time, however, the price of metal can change significantly. For example, ‘wheat pennies’ were made from copper during the first half of the twentieth century, and the metal alone is now worth at least double the face value. You’d need quite a lot to make it worth melting them down, though.
Today’s quarters are also mostly made of copper, yet the cost of the copper is only 1/10th of the 25¢ spending value. There’s a little bit of nickel in your quarter too – around $0.004-worth. They’re probably best off in your piggybank for now!
Our new infographic takes a look at common coins from around the world, and analyzes just what they cost to make in terms of the metal used.
It’s a fascinating peek into the world of that most everyday of objects: the noble coin.