Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Two Pence Piece Value

The current scrap value of the copper in a British 2p coin (minted pre-1992) is now 4.16p.

I should point out that at the beginning of each month I work out the scrap metal value of our British coins. I started doing this about a year ago - partly through curiosity and partly because I felt it would be an interesting way of measuring inflation.

When I first started I was surprised to find out that the 1 and 2 pence pieces (minted pre-1992, many of which are still in circulation) had a face value less than their actual scrap value. The pre-1992 coins being made of 97% copper - as opposed to the copper-plated steel coins minted afterwards.

Anyway, over the last year the value of the metal in our coins has skyrocketed. In fact, the copper in a pre-1992 2p is now worth 38.8% more than it was this time last year. Either the price of metal is going up fast or our currency is devaluing at a rapid rate. I think it’s a combination of the two.

It should also be noted that our 5 and 10p coins, which are made of cupro-nickel (75% copper, 25% nickel), are also rapidly reaching the point where their scrap value outstrips their face value. 5p coins now being worth 2.83p in scrap. However, like the 2 and 1 pence pieces, from this year onward they will now be made of coated steel. No doubt the government saw this problem coming a few years ago.

On this blog I’ll note the scrap value of the 2 and 5 pence pieces each month, sort of as a running measure. Maybe a few other people out there will find it as interesting as I do.


First of all I should say that when I measure the value of the pre-1992 2 pence piece I’m simply measuring the value of the copper content. I’ve discounted the value of the 2.5% zinc and 0.5% tin that make up the other 3% of the coin. However, when valuing the 5 pence I’m measuring both the copper and the nickel content of the coin. 

Also, incidentally, I’m just getting the metal values from the London Metal Exchange, via the BBC’s Teletext service. So these figures are just my own calculations. Please don’t use them as guides for important decision making.

And finally, I should say that I have no idea if melting or scrapping British coins is illegal, but I would imagine that it is. So I wouldn’t advocate it.

1 comment:

  1. I've not yet studied the etymology of the word "coin". But if you split the word in half - co in, it sounds like a surname common to affluent types.
    Should we spend our co-ins in Tesco???