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Shell Casing Cents 1944 To 1946 Question

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Valued Member
United States
109 Posts
 Posted 03/03/2021  09:03 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add PPorro to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Yes I did search, no I didn't find some topic that I could ask this. Sorry if I missed.

Continuing the question if you please, the 1944, 1945, and 1946 shell case pennies. Were a composition of 95% copper, 5% zinc. Is there any reasonable possibility of standard or variations or are all for all those years, going to be recycled shell casings?

Would there potentially be some 1947 made using the old planchets or 1946 on the standard composition? I wouldn't expect any change over to be 100% everywhere at one time. Instead gradual as suppliers ran out.

Any reasonable at home way, to tell the difference between the 1947-1982 composition and the 1944-1946 composition?
Pillar of the Community
United States
3579 Posts
 Posted 03/03/2021  09:13 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ijn1944 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I would expect some crossover/transitional variations across the minting facilities after the war. I'm not aware of any do-it-yourself testing methods to make the distinction.

Of course, reading up on the matter of shell casings, it seems there is some controversy as to what sources were actually used (and to what degree they were used) in the production of planchets during that time.
Valued Member
United States
109 Posts
 Posted 03/03/2021  09:22 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PPorro to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm actually thinking of getting a coin discriminator circuit, they are used in slot machines, not expensive and it compares the source to the test coin. I'm not sure about the electronics part of a discriminator/comparitor or if this is practical at all. I also don't have knowledge and have to do some reading on how sensitive one of these might be.

For example, it would be easy to tell any other coin from a modern cent. But can it tell a pre-1982 cent from a modern cent.

My original idea was make an automated way to sort through half dollars. Now there's an obvious one?

XRF isn't reasonable because of cost.

So anyone with any ideas, and if one of those is a scale, I need a recommendation for one that's going to read down to .001 gm and not break the bank. (very small limited bank) As in, fixed income Senior.

Edited by PPorro
03/03/2021 09:23 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
1406 Posts
 Posted 03/03/2021  2:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Big-Kingdom to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
95% copper, 5% zinc = Brass
95% copper, 2.5% tin, 2.5% zinc = Bronze
"shell casing cents" are actually called "gilding metal"

The mint used gilding metal in 1944-1946, AND again from 1962-1982, the 1943 cent is zinc coated steel (galvanized)just as possilbe there to be 1944s in brass or 1945s or 1946's, or any of the ones from 1962-1982.

in either case the weight is 3.11 grams. There's a difference, but really, there's no difference. If you want to send a bunch of cents for materials testing to find out the metallurgical content for a laugh, I suppose you could, but it won't be cheap to do it.

Valued Member
United States
109 Posts
 Posted 03/03/2021  2:46 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PPorro to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks Big-Kingdom if I understand right, weighing will not tell me if I have a brass or gilding metal cent. And no other way, without something complicated or expensive? But it's likely that any of those metals could have been used 1944-1946 and 1962-1982 and maybe who knows what variations from 1947 to 1961?

Did I get that right? A big, no one knows for sure CARES! =

Edited for language and correction.

Funny kind of aside. Every coupe of years, I take out the change bank that sits on the dresser. That's the one that I empty my pockets at night and all the change goes in there. I sort the coins and look at them all.

I just got to the first sort which is cents and found two wheat cents. One 1942 and one 1944. Still finding wheat cents in circulation is a surprise to me as people started hoarding them in 1982 - when the cent changed to 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper

I also learned that Coin Brass and ammunition brass are not the same composition.
Edited by PPorro
03/03/2021 3:41 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
1406 Posts
 Posted 03/03/2021  3:35 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Big-Kingdom to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
it's more like "no one knows, because no one really cares" kind of situation. it's literally the difference of 2.5% tin added to the composition or not. visually or weight wise, it's not significant enough, it's more of a "oh that's interesting, they used recycled shell casings for a bit".

I suppose if you could conclusively identify the exact composition of the alloy, some grading company might want to attribute it as an "off metal" if it applies to that year. So far though it doesn't seem like anyone is interested in taking on this endeavor or the costs to find out.
Honestly I'm not even sure it could be conclusively proven with a hardness test, the 2.5% variation of the alloy is so slight, and tin and zinc are close in hardness, but I don't know that for a fact.

clad you enjoy the hunt, I like searching coins also, I just think this Shell casing cent thing is a good story for the hobby, and that's about it. proving the alloy would be much more complicated and require specialized equipment I'd think.

Something else a bit interesting, I read in CoinWorld, this years silver proof set is going to have a twice plated proof cent. the clad proof set is announced by the mint and they don't mention it being a twice plated cent.

But, I'd think, if they do it, this is going to change the composition of the S proof Lincoln cent even slightly. you'd think if they were going to twice plate it, it would be a selling point they would be marketing, it would come at an additional cost, So I'm thinking the 2021 cent in the clad proof set is once plated, and maybe the silver proof set for 2021 will be twice plated.

If the article from Coin World holds true. Article was here
Edited by Big-Kingdom
03/03/2021 3:41 pm
Bedrock of the Community
United States
17296 Posts
 Posted 03/08/2021  10:08 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Conder101 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
There is also the misconception that the Bronze composition of 95% copper 5% tin and zinc meant 2.5% tin and 2.5% zinc. Actually the percentage of each metal varied considerably but the combined amount of tin and zinc accounted for 5% of the total weight of the coin. Since the law did not specify set percentages, as long as there was a trace of tin in the alloy it complied with the law. Case in point after getting their allotment of metal from the War Production Board the San Francisco Mint had 50 pounds of Tin for their cent production. They struck 85,590,000 cents. That was 586,957 pounds of cents or a percentage composition of tin of .009% tin and 4.991% zinc.

From my understanding, after the shell case cent ended the amount of tin in the cents remained very low, well under 1%.

There is also the problem that both tin and zinc boil at temperatures below that of melted copper. That means that as long as the alloy is molten, tin and zinc are constantly vaporizing off which would make it very difficult to hit any specific composition or to hit it consistantly. So every melt would probably result in a slightly different composition.
Gary Schmidt
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