What’s The Melt Value of An Oscar Statue?

February 25th, 2013 by

(Oscar image from oscar.org)

(Oscar image from oscar.org)

We were talking about the Oscar statue around the office this morning, and decided to see what it was actually made of. It turns out that the Academy Award  of Merit, aka Oscar, weighs 8½ lb (including base) and is made of gold-plated Britannia metal (a type of pewter.) There is no resource anywhere on the net that tells how thick the gold plating is, so we had to do a little precious metals CSI work.

CAUTION: Lots of assumptions have necessarily been made, due to lack of data.

Time magazine quoted the weight of the statue sans base at 8 pounds in an article about the company that makes the statues. I then found the following video from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences showing how Oscar statues are made:

So, we have three platings: copper, nickel silver and gold.  Let’s work our way from the outside in, like an onion.

First, we need to figure out the dimensions of ol’ Oscar in order to calculate surface area. The Academy says he is 13.5″ high and 5.25″ wide. That gives us two of the three dimensions we need, but we need to eyeball how big he is front-to-back. I called it as 1.75″. For simplicity’s sake, we are treating him like a rectangle.

OK, we have a surface area to apply our plating to, but how thick is the plating? After much online sleuthing with no results, I decided to use the Olympic gold medal as a guide. Olympic gold metals are 60mm x 3mm, and have to have at least 6 grams of 24k gold plating. So, we take the surface area of an Olympic gold metal, divide that into the surface area of Oscar, then multiply by 6grams. This gives us 4 troy ounces of gold.

4 ozt x $1,592/ozt = $6,368 of gold.

Next is copper. With a spot price at $3.55/lb, 4 ozt = $0.97.

Now, nickel silver. This isn’t silver at all, but a pewter-like alloy of 60% copper, 20% nickel, and 20% zinc. So, 2.4 ozt of copper, and 0.8 ozt each of nickel and zinc. Convert to AVP ounces and take the spot price of each metal, and…

2.4 ozt Cu + 0.8 ozt Ni + 0.8 ozt Zi = $1.05.

Finally, the actual body of the statue, made of Britannia metal. This is composed of 92% tin, 6% antimony, and 2% copper. But how much?

We take the 12 ozt total of the three platings, convert to oz, then subtract from 8 lb. (which is 128 oz)

128 oz – (4.38 oz x3)  = 114.86 oz.

So, that’s 105.6 oz of tin, 6.9 oz of antimony, and 2.3 oz of copper. That gives us:

$68.73 + $13.67 + $0.51 = $82.91 for the core of Oscar.

So, how much is the melt value of the Oscar statue?

Gold plating = $6,368.00
Silver Nickel plating = $1.05
Copper plating = $0.97
Britannia core = $82.91

Of course, the question you really want to know is, “How much would the Oscar statue be worth if it were solid gold?”

8 lb = 128 oz = 116 troy oz

116 ozt x $1592 = $184,672

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