I recently had the opportunity to turn a massive box of coins I had been saving up into cash. It was the accumulation of about five years worth of change, and weighed a damn lot. On a whim, I measured it at the post office and it weighed 11 pounds, .5 ounces. When the bank sorted and counted the change, it turned out to be $116.97 -- not half bad for having done exactly zero work to earn it. All of this made me wonder how much my change was worth measured as a function of weight, and how it related to the values of other materials, so I did a little research. These metal prices are relatively recent, 1997 or so. The price per pound of change -- without regard to cultural money usage shifts -- cannot change much, as each type of coin always weighs the same.

Material           Dollars per

 Zinc:                  .046
 Lead:                  .224
 Copper:                .79
 Tin:                  2.31
 Nickel:               2.81
 Change:              10.60
 Silver:              64.75
 Gold:              3811.27
 Platinum:          8735.22
 Palladium:        12687.21
 Rhodium:          33540.90

This is in American dollars and British Standard units, for your reference.

hobyrne: First, I'm a poor college student, and never have much more than $50 riding in the bank at a time. Had the $20/year been there, it would've been spent. Second, fiddling about with depositing coinage in the bank or even carrying it to spend on purchases is simply not handy. Dropping it in the measuring cup of change on my desk is. Thus, I do the latter.