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Remembered Today:

Shell Case Penny


Rob Chester
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I have just seen a 1921 Penny on Ebay the seller claimed that it was made with metal from re-cycled shell cases. I googled but could only find information about the Americans doing this after WWII. Does anybody know if this happened in the UK or is the Ebay listing in error?

It sold for £2.50 - and not to me!

I'm just curious.

Rob

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As the penny was made of bronze, main constituent being copper, I'm not sure if brass was included, so I would say that metal would have been recycled to make coinage but I would suggest not shell cases.

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It would have taken a substantial operation to turn cartridge brass (typically about 70/30 copper/zinc) into bronze (about 90/10 copper/tin), so it doesn't make obvious sense that that would've been done.

.22 rimfire cases of this era were often of a much higher-copper alloy than usual cartridge brass, so they might've made a more practical source - but it's hard to imagine there'd've been enough to make it worthwhile.

Regards,

MikB

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Bronze and brass are both alloys (compounds) rather than mixtures and it would require significant processing to separate them back into their constituent components and one has to ask why would you want to do it? Copper is the common component of both but it was the tin that was the expensive component in bronze

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Salt (for example) is a compound of sodium and chlorine, as is water of hydrogen and oxygen. There can be molecules of compounds, but not of alloys - which really are mixtures or 'solid solutions'.

Tin was still being extensively mined in SW England in WW1; copper mostly came from overseas.

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Just a thought shell cases are not the same as brass cartridge cases even though these latter are commonly and erroneously called shell cases. A shell case is the bit that travels to the target and contains the explosive, normally made of steel it would also have a copper driving band which could be recycled to alloy with tin and produce bronze for coinage.

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Just a thought shell cases are not the same as brass cartridge cases even though these latter are commonly and erroneously called shell cases. A shell case is the bit that travels to the target and contains the explosive, normally made of steel it would also have a copper driving band which could be recycled to alloy with tin and produce bronze for coinage.

That makes sense, especially if large quantities of stockpiled artillery ammunition were scrapped after the war - that would've made bulk recovery of driving band copper very practical.

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Salt (for example) is a compound of sodium and chlorine, as is water of hydrogen and oxygen. There can be molecules of compounds, but not of alloys - which really are mixtures or 'solid solutions'.

Tin was still being extensively mined in SW England in WW1; copper mostly came from overseas.

Not completely correct as it is possible to have alloys that are intermetallic compounds with phases that have no distinct boundary. However as all alloys have a melting point that is different from either or all of its components it is still difficult to separate the components once an alloy has been created. Tin was (and still is) by far the most expensive component of bronze (and for that matter pewter)

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I have just seen a 1921 Penny on Ebay the seller claimed that it was made with metal from re-cycled shell cases. I googled but could only find information about the Americans doing this after WWII. Does anybody know if this happened in the UK or is the Ebay listing in error?

It sold for £2.50 - and not to me!

I'm just curious.

Rob

The Americans produced steel pennies (cents) plated with zinc in 1943 and 1944 as the copper was needed for cartridge case brass. The only odd post WW1 British pennies appear to be some produced for colonial use in the early 20s when some were mistakenly made from a copper nickel alloy rather than bronze. Worth a fortune if you can find one.

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