Zinc passed the $1.80 mark today, that means the current "penny" has a melt value of $0.0101867
. All the coins in your penny jar are worth more than their denomination (except for steel cents made during WW2).
There's been a lot of discussion lately about the elimination of the one cent piece. Jim Kolbe, the sponsor of the original bill in congress, has been mentioned several times with the Mark Foley scandal and it's unlikely his legislation will ever make it to the voting floor.
Personally, I think some kind of action is required. However, I would rather see the metal composition changed to steel or aluminum (similar to Canada) instead of outright removal of the denomination.
Shortages of cents and nickels is probably coming, maybe a lot sooner than most people think. Metal compositions of future coins should be changed before a disruption takes place, but I'm not sure there's enough time.
If copper/zinc/nickel prices continue to trend higher, not sure how mass melting
could be avoided.
To find out the intrinsic value of U.S. coins (including pre-1965 silver), visit coinflation.com