Pennies dated pre-1983 are 95% copper and worth $.024 in metal value. It's illegal to melt them down, but that could change.... If Laws Change, 'Penny Hoarders' Could Cash in on Thousands of Dollars - Yahoo! News Our family has collected wheat pennies for 40 years and have a couple thousand of them. I've tried cataloging and grading but gave up after the first 500 LOL. Of course, I would never melt these down as most have numismatic value.