05/04/2012 04:21 EDT | Updated 07/04/2012 05:12 EDT

Penny thoughts: from coppers to collectors

What's a penny made of?

The Canadian penny currently consists of 94 per cent steel, 4.5 per cent copper plating and 1.5 per cent nickel, according to the Royal Canadian Mint.

Until 1997, the penny was made almost entirely of copper.

If you add up all the copper from all the pennies in Canadians' pockets, buckets and spaces between seat cushions, there is at least 31,000 tonnes of the metal.

At current market prices, that would be worth close to $300 million.

Collector's item?

With the one-cent coin's demise looming, will your dusty jar full of pennies become a prized collectible?

The short answer is no, says Sheldon Sturrey, owner of Collectibles Canada Coin and Currency in Winnipeg.

Sturrey said pennies produced after about 1940 are not very valuable to collectors.

The most highly prized Canadian pennies are from the 1850s, and some from the 1920s are also valuable, he said.

Sturrey said he has seen people buying rolls of new pennies lately, in the hopes of cashing them in later as vintage collectibles.

"You know, maybe in 20 years they might be, but it's going to be a long time coming; it's not going to be an overnight boom," he said.

In order for a coin to become valuable, it has to have come from a special pressing, Sturrey said.