Bill Seeks Steel Cents, Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters

Cent and nickelOn April 25, 2013, Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio introduced a bill in the House of Representatives which seeks to immediately alter the metallic composition of the one-cent, five cent, ten-cent, and twenty-five cent coins. The legislation would require all four coins to be minted in American steel, with the cent coated in copper to preserve the current appearance.

The bill H.R. 1719 has two cosponsors, Rep. Tim Ryan and Patrick Tiberi, both from Ohio, and has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee. Ohio is ranked among the top three states for steel production and processing.

The cent currently has a composition of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper and cost the United States Mint 2.0 cents to produce and distribute during the most recent fiscal year. The smallest denomination accounted for 64.2% of all circulating coin shipments in FY2012, with more than 5.8 billion units shipped to Federal Reserve Banks.

The five-cent coin or “nickel” currently has a composition of 75% copper and 25% nickel and cost the US Mint 10.09 cents to produce and distribute in the latest fiscal year.

The dime and quarter both have a composition of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel and each cost less than their respective face values to produce.

Although the text of the bill is not yet available, a press release from Rep. Stivers notes that the majority of the copper, nickel, and zinc used to produce the cent, nickel, dime, and quarter is imported from Canada. The bill would specifically require the coins be made of American steel going forward. The appearance of the coins would not change, just the materials used to make them. The press release states that according the the House Financial Services Committee, the United States would save up to $433 million over 10 years by changing the composition of the coins to steel.

In 2011, Rep. Stivers had introduced two separate bills seeking to change the composition of the cent and nickel to steel. Subcommittee hearings were held, but neither bill was voted on.

Under the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010, the United States Mint has been conducting ongoing research and development activities on alternative metallic compositions for circulating coinage. After the first two years of study, the Mint released its first required report to Congress, which had indicated that additional work was required before any recommendations could be made.


  1. A&L Futures says

    If by changing the composition of these coins “the United States would save up to $433 million over 10 years,” why wouldn’t they [the Government] do so? It’s not a drastic cut to our National Debt, but it’s a start IMO.

  2. says

    It’s true it would save us money, but I think more money would be saved by the total elimination of at least the penny and probably the nickel as well. If memory serves correctly, there is no mix of metals (as indicated by the Mint’s recent report on the subject) that would stop the penny and nickel from losing the mint revenues.

  3. says

    CO- Although the US Mint offered no official recommendations after their two years of R&D, the outside consultant that the Mint worked with did offer the following:

    “After accounting for metal and production cost, copper plated steel one-cent coins would offer no cost savings compared to the current composition of copper-plated zinc.”

  4. Wake up says

    This is not a matter of how much money is saved to change the composition of a coin, this is DEBASEMENT of the currency.

  5. JFG says

    Even if the metal used to make pennies and nickels cost the government zero, it would still cost more than face value to make those coins. I’m a penny and nickel hoarder, so this bill would be bad for a small group of collectors like me. However, the proposal would help the economy by decreasing the deficit, so I support this bill, albeit with hesitation! I don’t think they will pass the bill unless metal prices experienced another significant surge. Very few Congressmen take this issue seriously.

  6. Philip compton says

    No need to alter composition. Re-price the so-called cent to .05 and reprice the so-called nickel to .75ct..This rebalances All Us coins closer to Value interrelated. Any questions?

  7. Jason Hoppe says

    The price of the metal is not increasing. The value of the dollar is declining. At least the coins have something of material value in them, even if it’s not much. They need to stop destroying the dollar, not make things cheaper so they can keep wasting money.

  8. Philip compton says

    Reprice the so-called Cent to .05. Reprice the face value So -called Nickel to .75Ct. This rebalances to value ratios more closely . I would “commemorate them” with New American winners…say the No.1 tax- payer gets his “image”on the .75cent piece for the year, and the largest charity contributor ceives the “new-Cent”..’image” .

  9. Bilbo says

    Here’s an idea…get rid of currency altogether and and just have everyone put a permanent barcode on their hand and have everything pass through a government monitored account. You’ll never lose your wallet, no identity theft, world peace, etc

  10. says


    Thanks for the memory jog. I remember reading that line now and wondering why the US Mint didn’t just bite the bullet and recommend elimination of the 1¢ and 5¢ denominations.

  11. ed says

    As indicated, the transition of metallic content would save absolutely nothing for two-thirds of the coins (pennies made up 64.2%) produced. This continued debasement of the US Dollar (starting when they took silver out of the coin mix) is the real problem. Not to mention the sudden explosion of slugs in vending machines.

    And gee, Ohio is one of the major STEEL producing states, no wonder STEEL was cited as the key metal to be used, nothing PORK about this piece of legislation.

    DId you realize it takes 3 seconds to bend over and pick up a penny? Figure 20 pennies a minute multipled by 60 minutes and that penny on the ground is worth the equivilent of $12/hour. A nickle is worth $60/hour. and you get to exercise and stretch muscles too!

    Just revalue the US dollar by a factor of ten and get it over with. Minimum wage will be 75 cents an hour, gas 33 cents a gallon and a new car will be $2,000. Naw, never work, people would realize how badly they were shafted over the past 100 years thanks to the FED,.

  12. Dan says

    Per Bilbo’s comment:

    And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. Revelation 13:16-18

  13. Dean says

    I have a great idea. How about we stop pennies, leave nickels alone, and put some precious metals in the dimes and quarters, like we used to, remember when money was actually worth money ? Also we need to return the dollar to the gold standard, abolish the Federal Reserve, and put those crooks in prison where the belong.

  14. Scott says

    Not sure the choice of steel is the best. They will corrode easily and I can see stores (especially banks) not excepting the coins for their appearance. My opinion we should eliminate the penny, come up with cheaper alloy for the nickel and then eliminate the dollar with a coin. Australia has already done this. They have even gone a step further with the plastic notes which hold up longer than the paper currency we currently use. Otherwise, I am not complaining we should have done something years ago to reduce the cost of making our currency.

  15. andy says

    I have to wonder about a few things, like…
    How would this affect a company like Coinstar? Their current machines reject steel coins. I know this because I have found a large number of steel Canadian coins and 1943 steel pennies in the reject trays. How would this affect coin hunters with metal detectors, like myself? My detector reads steel as trash. I guess we coin hunters will be digging lots more trash targets. If they go through with this idea, I hope the public boycotts the use of trash metal money and hoards these coins, only to use the good old copper/nickel!!

  16. Brian says

    While your at it, re-introduce a $2 or 2.50/5/10/20 coin. Make them out of copper…Lots of seignorage for the government.

  17. Koichi Ito says

    No more pennies from 2014 and beyond? What you can buy by using penny? Today nothing can be purchased for one cent. Therefore there are no use for pennies.

  18. Mark says

    Why not admit we are like Argentina and make the US coinage out of plastic instead of metal?

  19. David says

    In keeping with ongoing currency debasement why not make the coins out of plastic? That should be cheaper that producing them out of steel.

  20. GetIntoHardAssets says

    Not only the debasement and impact on Coinstar, what about all those vending machines and fare collection devices that need to be upgraded or replaced? oh, Government calls that “stimulating” the economy!

    Go grab more boxes of nickels at the bank, it will happen (just like silver coins in 1965 and copper penny in 1981) For pennies, is a good source.

    After the recent smash in metal prices, have you noticed that 95% silver coins are now out of stock or very, very high premiums? Everyone is quickly losing faith in the US fiat money.

  21. joe says

    Most of the people here are totally ignorant to the fact that they are asking for money that has no real value.What people should be pushing for,is money that maintains it’s purchasing power.
    Metals like silver,gold,platinum and copper are the metals that should be in our money,not worthless steel slugs.

  22. Arcturus says

    We should go to the 1/10 dollar accounting system. Eliminate penny – nickle – quarter coins and dollar bill. Saves money and with have minimal impact on accounting systems.

  23. Steve G. says

    What kind of a idiotic idea is this? Ron Paul said it best during one of the debates: “I can get you a gallon of gas for a dime!” A silver dime. Fiat currency (legal tender backed by nothing but the full faith and credit of the US Government, like they deserve any faith or credit) is what is causing all of the problems we have today with a private enterprise Federal Reserve. We’ve been inflated, deflated, inflated, wash rinse repeat! Here’s a quote from Thomas Jefferson “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing
    power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. ”

    Need I say more?

  24. Schlomo Bergeinstein says

    Like someone else said above, get rid of money altogether and give everyone a bar code at birth, embedded rfid gps tracking chip, along with forced vaccinations, mandatory public school, and a 100% tax on all income. Do it for public safety, comrade!

  25. David W. says

    Im with Steve G. The brain washing didnt work on me. I see thru a lot of this crap, and I am dissapointed to learn that Freedom is a MYTH.

  26. Koichi Ito says

    Finally, why not use Bitcoin as currency instead of U.S. Dollar? This will avoid using coins and bills. Therefore it will be a cashless economy.

  27. Ricky Carter says

    If I am not mistaken this is the same state that housed Jacksons metals. Remember they were melting down pennies for profit. I think this polititian/lobbyist is scratching his own back (PORK).

  28. silvereagle says

    Just think when the thin copper coating wears off you will have a pocket full of rust.I only have about 250 pound of copper[not zinc] pennies.

  29. Ante says

    I always admired how US society is “conservative” and don’t really want to change. They cling on old tradition and practice without counting cost. Why not go the way some of countries went already. You can compare yourself to Canada or Australia. in Canada no cents any more, no 1 or 2 dollar bills… get real accept reality that 1 dollar is not the same value used to be…

  30. Koichi Ito says

    No wonder that United States of America remain in stone age when come to coinage. In fact all the major countries no longer use so called pennies in their coinage. For example Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada no longer use so called penny in their coinage for circulation! And rest of Europe uses new currency called Euro. So United States of America uses out of date currency (U.S. Dollar) with useless penny (one cent coin)!

  31. FiatRefugee says

    So Koichi, the USA isn’t a MAJOR country because it hasn’t yet decided that many decades of fiat currency inflation have made the penny worthless. If THAT’S all it takes to become a major country, Zimbabwe should be our guide!

    Since the U.S. dollar happens to be the world’s RESERVE currency and the Euro is on the verge of a very messy divorce, I’ll predict the dollar (with its significant warts) will continue to exist after many of the countries you named have moved to new monetary systems once their current fiat paper currencies collapse.

    Of course the dollar (as it currently exists) WILL eventually join them on the ash heap of history, but it will be one of the last to go down in flames – thus proving that we are a MAJOR country! 😉

  32. says

    We are trying to conserve on energy consumption so we’re going to dim your monitors gradually until you can’t even see the money you don’t have…but we’ll tell you how much is in your account. You can trust us.

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