One of the austerity measures announced by the coalition government is the proposal to produce cheaper coins in nickel plated steel. Obviously such a move is designed to save money for government, it has also been pointed out that such a move is going to be very expensive for the machine vending industry and will drastically affect the efficient process of small change with coins of the same denomination having different weights and conductivity in circulation.
However, moving away from the pros and cons of such a move it is worth noting that the motive for such a move is more or less down to the price of nickel than anything else. From the end of the Second World War nickel has been used in British and other European countries for the production of higher denomination coins in the form of a copper and nickel alloy (75% copper 25% nickel) generally known as cupro nickel. Since 1947 we have had decimalization and the major European economies have gone over to the Euro. In both cases there was a change over period enabling an exchange for old for new. However, like little magpies people squirreled away many coins which missed the change over dates, resulting in billions of coins throughout Britain and Europe being tucked away in drawers, tins or whatever.
These coins no longer have a legal tender value, so what do you do with pre Euro and pre Decimal British coins? Well the answer is pretty simple if they cannot be exchanged for new Euro currency like Irish and German coins or they are not in pristine collector condition the only option is to sell them as scrap. In recent times the commodity value of all metals have broken all time records and this has led to many coins especially non legal tender being worth far more for the metal content value than original their face value.
Traditionally both British and mainland European copper alloyed coins have always been the lower tender coins alloyed with either zinc, aluminum, tin and small amounts of nickel. Since the end of the Second World War billions have been minted and very few have a collector value. I see the only option is to accumulate as many as possible together and take them to the local scrap yard which in Thanet pays around £2.50 a kilo.
The Cupro nickel and nickel coins are a different kettle of fish and considering nickel on the London metal exchange is roughly trading at $25,000 a tonne this is something to look into. Obviously nobody can expect to be paid that for scrapped coins but it does is act as an indicator for a secondary market. Anyone who is familiar with alibaba.com will know what the demand is worldwide for recycled nickel.
So what are the options for those of us who are on the make? Well my little tip is to seek out pre Euro European coins that are made of 100% Nickel, especially French 2 Franc, 1 Franc, ½ Franc coins and Netherlands Guilders, 25 & 10 cent coins and hoard them. They are made of the pure stuff and as a commodity it is something in demand for the nickel alloy production industry. Obviously anybody reading this is not into the big time and we are talking Kilo’s. However with information technology as it is there will an opening somewhere someday to sell our kilos of nickel making it all worthwhile, it is only a matter of finding a market.
This website can give you a rough estimate of the value the nickel in your pre Euro coins .http://scrapmetalpricesandauctions.com/nickel/