One way to clean old pennies is to soak them a solution of salt and vinegar. A mixture of ¼ cup of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt cleans 20 to 30 pennies in about five minutes.Know More
Pennies are made of copper plated over another metal. Over time, the bright copper-colored penny takes on a dull brown look as the copper reacts with the oxygen in the air to form copper oxide. The copper oxide turns from brown to a greenish color, called a patina, according to the Copper Development Association. While this green color is valued in architecture and copper sculptures, such as the Statue of Liberty, it causes pennies to lose their new look.
In a solution of salt and vinegar, the acid dissolves the copper oxide on the pennies, leaving the coins clean again. Other acids, such as lemon juice, cause a similar reaction.
If coins are old or valuable, it is better to avoid cleaning them. Cleaning off the natural oxides of coins decreases their value to other collectors. However, About.com recommends cleaning circulated coins using a mild dishwashing soap and water for sanitary purposes. The use of a silver polish, abrasive or the salt-and-vinegar cleaning solution may ruin the coins.Learn more about Coins & Currency
Old U.S. pennies may carry a value anywhere between a couple cents to over $1,000, depending primarily on the date, condition and mintmark of the coin. In general, coins with earlier dates are worth more money than those with later dates.Full Answer >
Valuable old pennies include the half-cent penny, the American large cent, the flying eagle penny, the Indian penny and the Lincoln wheat penny. The exact value of each coin depends upon its condition, the date it was minted and its particular design.Full Answer >
The value of old pennies can be determined by auction houses, collector organizations and coin dealers. The value varies based upon the type of penny, its condition, the year and place of its minting, and its overall rarity. Some organizations use coin-grading services to authenticate and value coins.Full Answer >
The value of an older penny depends on the date when the penny was minted. The rule of thumb is that pennies dated before 1934 are generally worth more than those dated after 1934.Full Answer >