Copper hoarding myths, pennies and nickels, FAQ for beginners

Myth : Copper pennies (pre-1982) are now worth 2x face value (or 2 cents each), because Coinflation says so.

Fact : No. They are not. At least not that simply. Coinflation calculates how much the copper is worth IF MOLTEN. Melting is currently illegal, and without a few dozen pounds, nobody buys it at copper bulk price. So in short, you’re not going to get melt value, definitely not while melting is illegal, and unlikely even if it was.

Furthermore, they can be PURCHASED today at about 1.7 face value. So why would anybody sell them for 1.7 face value if they can get double? Or who would buy it at double (or whatever coinflation says) if they can buy it today at 1.7 face value? (See or

Myth : Nickels can be good for copper hoarding too. Because coinflation says…..

Fact : Again, coinflation assumes metal can be sold at spot price, and refining costs nothing. Get real and grow up. If you want to hoard a metal and sell it, you want it PURE, unless you’re a refiner, in which case you wouldn’t be asking such questions.

Myth : Buying a sorting machine is where I should start my journey.

Fact : Hold on there. How much are you planning to hoard? This is a very serious question. A sorting machine (such as Ryedale) is fun to have, but do you know how long it takes to “make your money back”?

Read any hoarder’s forum, they’ll likely tell you that only 10% of pennies are copper, and they’re decreasing daily. Let’s assume your time is free, and you have free way to dump back the zincs. (this is impossible, but let’s assume that to make sure we are on the safe side of math).

Let’s try some math. Let’s assume you can sell your copper pennies for double face value.
Cost of a sorting machine $500.
That means, you’re going to need to collect $500 face value in copper pennies, and sell them for $1000 to make back your $500.
$500 face value copper pennies is what you’re looking for, meaning? You’re going to sort through roughly $5,000 face value of raw mixed boxes. At $25 face value per box, you’re gonna go through 200 boxes.

There are 2 ways to do this. You can sell them in 9lb batches, or 68lb batches. We’re going to continue assuming both can be sold at double face value. (you can sell them other ways too, I used the boxes sold at Portland Mint to give you an example of what is common, expected, and likely to sell).

9lb is $13.25 face value, sell at $26.50
68lb is $100 face value, sell at $200.00

If you were selling 68lb at a time, you can sort through $1000 at a time. Which is 40 boxes.
Just remember, after sorting through 200 boxes, you only made your money back. You’re going to need to sort through a total of $15,000 (600 $25 boxes) just to make your first $1000 net profit. Perhaps that’s the obvious point you need to know, a $25 box will only make you $2.50.

Ryedale sorter says it sorts through 300 coins per minute. Or, $3 per minute. So a $25 box will take you 8 minutes. That’s about 180,000 coins per hour, or $180 raw face value per hour for about $18 profit (remember, we are assuming you can sell them at double face value, otherwise even less!).

This is assuming it takes zero time to pick up your pennies, and dump back the zincs. Otherwise that’s more of your time. This is where the story basically ends. AT MAX, you will make $18 per hour as long as you can sell them for double, and you must always sell them. Or be willing to sit on them. A realistic scenario is making $10 or less. Because there are so many things that can go wrong : machine jamming, delivery, dumping zincs, shipping to buyer…etc.

What do I suggest as an alternative?
1) get a box or two from your bank. That’s right, get $25-100 face value. Sort through them buy hand, see how much you get. That’ll first give you an idea of whether you live in the right area to do this.
2) If you think you can sell 9lb boxes for $27.00, buy up a 68lb box, and repackage them. You can basically sell $170 for $200. That’s 18% profit. You can spend $500 upfront, and then $1000 at a time to make back $100 at a time. Or, you can spend $510 (3 boxes at $170), make profit $90 just repackaging. How much you wanna bet you can package 22 boxes (68×3 divided by 9) in less than 5 hours (We originally estimated that at max, $18 can be made per hour if everything works perfectly)? That’s right, if you are confident you can sell them at double face value, REPACKAGE IN BULK. Don’t bother sorting!

The above is the math I used based on about 4 years of either personal experience, or speaking to people who know the game. It’s fun, but don’t expect to make good money. You WILL literally get your hands dirty. You don’t want to do this if you have kids in the house, or a woman living with you (oops, I just revealed my crap life story).