Circulating coins used to be made out of valuable metals like silver. The U.S. Mint stopped using silver by the year 1971 and switched to longer-lasting metals.
Some coins are sandwiches…
Today’s coins are made from metals such as nickel, copper, and zinc. Instead of using one metal to make a coin, multiple kinds of metal are pressed together into layers. This is called a “clad” coin. The layers of a clad coin are like a sandwich.
On the outside of a quarter –the bread– is a nickel-copper mixture that is silver in color. The inside filling is copper. The layers of metal help the coin last a long time. Look at the edge of a quarter and you can see the copper color peaking out!
Coins are made of different metals and sizes…
The dime and quarter have similar amounts of nickel and copper. But notice that the color of a penny is different than the dime and quarter. The penny has more copper. The copper metal sandwiches an inner layer made mostly of zinc.
The nickel is different from the other coins because it’s not a clad coin. It is nickel and copper mixed together instead of placed in layers.
Each coin is also a different size. The sizes and metals of the coins do not relate to the coins’ value or worth.