Do You Know How The UK Coins Are Made And What Are They Made of?

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The processes involved in producing a coin can be broken down into three different sections: making the blanks, making the dies and striking the coins.

Making the blanks

Depending on the alloy required, the appropriate metals are melted in the necessary proportions in a furnace. The metal is then extracted from the furnace in the form of a continuous strip, which is cut to produce coils weighing up to 2.8 tonnes. The strip is passed through powerful rolling mills to reduce it to the thickness of a coin. Blank discs of metal are then punched from the strip in a blanking press at a rate of up to 10,000 a minute. Rolling metal under great pressure makes it hard so the blanks have to be softened, something which is achieved by heating them in an annealing furnace at up to 950°C.

Making the dies

Once a design has been approved, a plaster model is prepared at several times the diameter of the intended coin. The plaster model is scanned by a ruby-tipped probe which records the design as a digital file on a computer. Guided by this digital file, an engraving machine cuts the design into a piece of steel at the correct size of the coin. Known as a reduction punch, this piece of steel is then used to make the dies which will actually strike the coins.

Striking the coins

For the final stage of the process, the blanks are fed into a coining press containing a pair of dies. Applying a pressure of around 60 tonnes, the dies strike the blanks and turn them into coins at speeds of up to 850 a minute.

= 1 penny coin =

First Issued February 15, 1971

Diameter 20.3mm

Weight 3.56g

Thickness Bronze: 1.52mm. Copper-plated steel: 1.65mm

Composition Bronze (97pc copper, 2.5pc zinc, 0.5pc tin)

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= 2 pence coin =

First Issued February 15, 1971

Diameter 25.9mm

Weight 7.12g

Thickness Bronze: 1.85mm. Copper-plated steel: 2.03mm

Composition Bronze (97pc copper, 2.5pc zinc, 0.5pc tin)

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= 5 pence coin =

First Issued Smaller version in June 1990.

Diameter 18.0mm

Weight 3.25g

Thickness 1.7mm

Composition Cupro-nickel (75pc copper, 25pc nickel)

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= 10 pence coin =

First Issued Smaller version in September 1992.

Diameter (since 1992) 24.5mm

Weight 6.5g

Thickness 1.85mm

Composition Cupro-nickel (75pc copper, 25pc nickel)

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= 20 pence coin =

First Issued June 9, 1982

Diameter 21.4mm

Weight 5g

Thickness 1.7mm

Composition Cupro-nickel (84pc copper, 16c nickel)

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= 50 pence coin =

First Issued Smaller version introduced in September 1997. Diameter (since 1997) 27.3mm

Weight 8.0g

Thickness 1.78mm

Composition Cupro-nickel (75pc copper, 25pc nickel)

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= 1 pound coin =

Issue Date April 21, 1983

Diameter 22.5mm

Weight 9.5g

Thickness 3.15mm

Composition Nickel-Brass (70pc copper, 5.5pc nickel, 24.5pc zinc)

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= 2 pound coin =

First Issued June 15, 1998

Diameter 28.4mm

Weight 12g

Thickness 2.5mm

Composition, Outer Nickel-Brass (76pc copper, 4pc nickel, 20pc zinc). Inner Cupro-nickel (75pc copper, 25pc nickel)

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= 5 pound coin =

First Issued August 4, 1990. Previously crowns had a face value of 25p

Diameter 38.61mm

Weight 28.28g

Thickness 2.89mm

Composition Cupro-nickel (75pc copper, 25pc nickel)

Collector versions have been struck in precious metals

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As an international manufacturer and supplier for copper sheet and bronze sheet, Shanghai Metal Corporation produces slitting, edging, and oscillates winding to fit your specific copper requirements. To find out more, please visit our Website or send your inquiry here. Our English speaking personnel will be more than pleased to help you. Follow us on  LinkedInTwitter, FacebookInstagram and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or you could try our new mobile app by scanning our QR code.

Sources: Royal Mint, The Telegraph, museumvictoria.com.au

William P.//SMC Editor

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Do You Know Whether Your Penny Is a Copper or a Zinc Coin?

The United States one-cent coin is officially named cent, but commonly known as a penny. The colloquial term penny derives from the British coin of the same name. Since 1909 the reverse has honored President Abraham Lincoln in varying designs, and one century later a new, permanent reverse – the Union Shield – was introduced in 2010. The coin is 0.75 inches (19.05 mm) in diameter and 0.0598 inches (1.52 mm) in thickness.

If your coin has a date before 1982, it is made of 95% copper. If dated 1983 or later, it is made of 97.5% zinc and plated with a thin 2.5% copper coating. At one point, from 1793 to 1837, the penny coin was pure copper. After that, the cent was made of bronze (95% copper, and 5% tin and zinc), but then 88% copper and 12% nickel, giving the coin a whitish appearance, and back again to bronze until its current composition of copper-plated zinc.

The fluctuation of copper in the coin composition was due to a number of reasons. The war effort in 1943 increased the demand for copper. However, a limited number of copper pennies were still minted that year. Other times, the price of copper rose to a point where the cent contained almost one cent’s worth of copper. This led the Mint to test alternative metals, including aluminum and bronze-clad steel. Aluminum was chosen, and over 1.5 million of these pennies were struck and ready for public release before ultimately being rejected. The proposed aluminum pennies were rejected for two reasons: vending machine owners complained the coins would cause mechanical problems; and pediatricians and pediatric radiologists pointed out that the radiodensity of the metal inside the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts was close to that of soft tissue, and the coins would therefore be difficult to detect in X-ray imaging. One aluminum cent was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

As of 2013, based onthe US Mint Annual Report released in 2014, it costs the U.S. Mint 1.83 cents (down from 2.41 cents in 2011) to make one cent because of the cost of materials, production, and distribution. This figure includes the Mint’s fixed components for distribution and fabrication, as well as Mint overhead allocated to the penny. Fixed costs and overhead would have to be absorbed by other circulating coins without the penny. The loss in profitability due to producing the one cent coin in the United States for the year of 2013 was $55,000,000. This was a slight decrease from 2012, the year before, which had a production loss of $58,000,000.

If you wonder whether your penny is made of copper or zinc, the safest and best way to tell their composition is to weigh them. Copper pennies weigh 3.11 grams, whereas the zinc pennies weigh only 2.5 grams. However, an alternative and easiest way is the “drop” test. When you drop the coin on the table, zinc pennies have sort of a flat “clunk”, whereas copper pennies have a higher-pitched, more melodious “ring” sound. Obviously, this test isn’t as reliable as weighing them, but it should help you sort most of copper and zinc pennies.

Do the test and let us know!

Shanghai Metal Corporation offers copper is varying types including foil, cable, tube, coil, busbar, sheet, plate, in varying fittings and sizes. SMC also produces enameled wires, PTFE wires, low voltage cables, fiberglass copper wires for the security, telecommunications, electrical, commercial, industrial, and automotive industries. To find out more, please visit our Website or send your inquiry here. Our English speaking personnel will be more than pleased to help you. Follow us on  LinkedInTwitter, FacebookInstagram and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or you could try our new mobile app by scanning our QR code.

Source: usmint.gov, coins.about.com, parkpennies.com, Wikipedia, sarahsuesphotography.blogspot.com, flickr.com

Camilla G.//SMC Editor

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Artistic Copper Refurbishment Reinvigorates Maine’s State House Dome

10036381_H13320675-600x450Workers at the Maine’s State House Dome are currently part way through a $1.3 million process of having its old, leaking, green, oxidized Copper dome replaced with a shiny brand new one. As work continues to replace the 7,000 square feet worth of Copper atop the State House which is more than 100 years old, lawmakers on the Legislative Council have accepted a plan to sell much of the metal to artists and craftsmen as a way to preserve and maintain the metal’s iconic and cultural value. Originally plans were to sell the old Copper roof as scrap metal to help fund the refurbishment, approximately $12,000 was expected to be raised upon recycling depending on the ebb and flow of Copper spot market prices.

dome4aHowever, a more thoughtful proposal of re-purposing the oxidized Copper as raw materials for local artists to turn in to sculptures, jewelry and other art pieces was made and the Legislative Council have given their nod of approval. “Any time you can incorporate Maine artists into a historically significant project, and potentially employ Maine artists, that’s a good thing,” said Julie Richard, the Maine Arts Commission’s executive director.

This new repurposing proposal has five core elements that will help determine where the old copper will end up.

dome1aFirstly, some of it will be melted down and recast into commemorative collectables and keepsakes such as coins and medallions which will be sold or distributed to the public. Small workable sheets will be sold to local jewelers and artisans to be remade into various jewelries, Current market value for oxidized green copper is about $400 for a 1 meter-squared sheet but it will likely be sold for cheaper than that. A portion of the material would be given or sold well below market value to Maine sculptors or educational institutions for use in creating 3-D works that may be sold or used for educational purposes. Some is hoped to turned into new public art commission for the State Capitol Complex in Maine. Finally, pieces that are not intact enough to be repurposed into anything will be recycled as scrap and the proceeds used to help fund future projects of the Maine Arts Commission.

The restoration project is expected to be finished by October this year.

Shanghai Metal Corporation stocks a wide selection of Copper-related products and raw materials for all your construction or manufacturing needs. Please take the time to browse our online catalog at: http://www.shanghaimetal.com/Copper–tpl3.html.

Zenn B.//SMC Editor