The only sure way to know whether a particular coin is magnetic is to test it with a magnet.
Coins from different countries that have been shown to be magnetic and others we believe are likely to be magnetic are being listed in the
Magnetic Coin Directory.
- Information about a coin from a book, a coin catalogue or from the internet is often insufficient to definitely predict whether a coin will be magnetic.
- If a particular type of coin of a particular date is magnetic, it is likely that similar coins of the same date will also be magnetic: but this is not always so.
Appearances can be misleading.
- Many coins made mainly of one metal can be coated with another.
- Forgeries made of a different metal to that of the real coin, do sometimes exist.
- The normal coating of a coin may no longer be present because of a previous exposure to acid
Coins described as made mainly of iron or steel or nickel are likely to be magnetic but this may not always be the case.
Coins which are unlikely to be magnetic are usually easier to identify.
- Some stainless steels are non-magnetic.
- Sometimes coins are described as being made of nickel and will appear of almost the same colour as pure nickel but will be made of cupro-nickel. This metal alloy is widely used in coin making. It mainly contains copper and is not magnetic.
Coins made up of two separate metals joined together during minting ("bimetallic coins" ), may be "magnetic", "weakly or partly" or "non-magnetic", depending on the metals from which they are made.
- Most coins dated before 1900 are not likely to be magnetic but there are exceptions.
- Coins made mainly of aluminium, brass, bronze, copper, gold, silver or zinc, will not be magnetic.