The copper penny was bronze for almost 100 years, according to the U.S. Mint. From 1864 to 1962, 95 per cent copper and 5 per cent tin and zinc combined made the penny worth one cent. A 1915 penny contains 3.11 grams of metal and has a metal meltdown value of about 2.7 cents in December 2010. The value as a collectable coin depends on factors other than the metal.
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Although 1915 was nearly 100 years ago, there were many of these coins minted and still available. Three different mint locations made this coin, and you can determine which mint made yours by looking for a letter just below the date. If there is no letter, this was a Philadelphia mint coin. A "D" signifies a Denver mint coin and "S" was for San Francisco. The Philadelphia mint made 29 million of the 1915 penny, Denver made 22 million and San Francisco made 5 million. The 1915-S has the lowest volume and is the most collectable of the three.
The condition makes a coin valuable or junk. Collectors and sellers grade coins by condition, and AG-3 is the lowest grade for a collectable coin, according to the Coin-Collecting website. An "about good" coin is worn but still readable. A choice very fine or VF-30 is a lightly-worn coin, and probably the best condition expected for a 1915 wheat penny. Better grades require some original colour and most of these coins are a chocolate brown from exposure to the air. Coinflation values the 1915 penny between 80p and £3,250, from the 1915 worn Philadelphia to the best 1915-S.
Learn about grading if you want to value coins. Grade some coins yourself for practice so you can recognise the grades when viewing coins for purchase. Use Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation to grade your more valuable coins. PCGS or NGC authenticate and grade an inexpensive coin for less than £13 in 2010. Professional grading increases the value of a coin and creates buyer interest. NGC shows the 1915 cent at 70p for Philadelphia, £1.0 for Denver and £5.40 for San Francisco in "good" condition. These are the lowest values you should expect for a 1915 penny, if the date is readable and it has wear but no serious damage.
Where you buy or sell coins affects the price you pay or receive for a penny coin. Buying or selling at a garage sale or flea market is likely the cheapest market you can find. Coin auctions and shows have knowledgeable collectors; under graded or undervalued coins are quickly recognised. Antiques and collectibles shows may have sellers with a few coins. If coins are not a speciality, they may lack knowledge or just want to sell them. This is a good market for buying below value for resale.
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