DENVER – The U.S. Mint says it has a problem. The nickel coins it is making are now costing them more than a dime each to turn out.These are not "coin collectors" as you think of them for the simple reason that common nickels, being common, have no numismatic value. But they are collecting coins, and lots of them.
That is because the cost of the nickel used to make the coins has skyrocketed in the last year [and] some stores are cashing in on the change.
Not Just Yogurt in Aurora is willing to give customers 25 percent off a purchase if they are made entirely in nickels. The owner would then turn around and sell the nickels to coin collectors.
What are those coin collectors who are willing to pay more than a nickel to stores (as they will eventually to banks) doing with them? Well, we know that they are not melting them down or exporting them, because the US mint has made that illegal*. No, they just appreciate how billions of nickels look stacked neatly in rows. It must be the dashing new designs catching their collective fancy. Nothing to see here, people. Move along.
When the intrinsic value of any coin surpasses its face value, that coin will migrate to another market, one that feels free to disregard the imperial proclamations of the US Mint. What happens to those coins from there will remain a closely guarded secret, with more and more nickels disappearing as more and more individuals and companies recognize that having a bit of nickel is better than having 5 cents.
And it's not illegal to pay more than 5 cents for a nickel. Not yet, anyway.
* and no one defies the US Mint. You hear that? No one.