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Pennies Were The First U.S. Coin To Feature An Historical Figure. Who Was It?

Lucky Penny Day is celebrated on May 23. It’s always nice to find a penny and on this day everyone is on the lookout in the hopes of finding one lying around. The discovery of pennies is often associated with good luck and celebrators believe that if you find a penny on Lucky Penny Day, you might just be incredibly blessed!

  • 757 AD – The penny was officially introduced into England in 757 A.D., and they traveled to America with the first settlers.
  • 1787 – America’s first one-cent piece called the “large cent”, was produced by a private mint in 1787. Benjamin Franklin designed it. On one side, it read “Mind Your Business” and the other “We Are One.” and was first struck in 1793, one year after the Mint opened. It was so big that it was hard to use, but it wasn’t replaced by a smaller penny until 1857, more than 50 years later.
  • 1793 – The Mint produced its first circulating coins—all $111.78 worth of them—in March 1793. That first batch consisted of 11,178 copper cents.
  • 1857 – Pennies are resized and minted into smaller dimensions.
  • 1909 – Pennies were the first U.S. coin to feature a historical figure… Abraham Lincoln.  The Lincoln penny was introduced in 1909.
  • 2008 – The U.S. spends $134 million to produce $80 million worth of pennies.
  • According to one theory, people originally believed that pennies would bring them a lot of luck due to their religious beliefs.
  • Ancient civilizations believed that copper and other metals were gifts from the gods, which were intended to provide people with protection from evil. This theory was also fueled by several other superstitions, such as metal horseshoes and charm bracelets, which people also believed to be lucky.
  • Another has to do with the two sides of a coin, which people believe to be a representation of the battle between evil and good.
  • If you find a penny heads side up, this means that you have luck on your side. However, luck is not going to be as much in your favor if you find a coin and it is tails-side up. Some people say that if you find a penny and it is tails side up, you should flip it the other way round and leave it so that it brings the next person that finds it luck.
  • Do not spend a penny that you find. Instead, save it for luck.
  • If you place a penny in your shoe, it will bring good fortune.
  • Carrying three pennies with you is going to bring you good luck.
  • Throwing a penny coin over your left shoulder into a wishing well or water will grant your wish.
  • Tossing a penny when you have a problem enables fate to take care of the issue for you.
  • Coins with holes in them are considered especially lucky.
  • If you put the first penny you get every day into your pocket, you are going to attract more as the day continues.
  • If you find a penny, it means that there is more money coming your way.
  • If you keep a coin in your baby’s crib, the baby will grow up to be wise, wealthy and healthy.
  • To secure good luck, you should carry a penny that was minted in your birth year.
  • Having a jar filled with pennies in your kitchen is good luck.
  • If you toss a penny overboard while you are traveling at sea, it will bring you a safe trip.
  • Some also say that you should carry a penny in your pocketbook, which is wrapped in paper, so you can say that you are never broke.
  • The U.S. Mint produces more than 13 billion pennies each year, although the official name is the “cent” not the penny.
  • Nearly 70% of all coins minted in the U.S. are pennies, and it costs 1.67 cents to make a penny.
  • An estimated 130 billion pennies are currently in circulation.
  • It is estimated that, on average, the penny stays in circulation for 25 years.
  • Paul Revere was a silversmith and a contributor to our nation’s coinage. Revere’s metals company once supplied the Mint with rolled copper for the production of early cents.
  • Pennies may not have much value these days. However, there are a few pennies that have made a mint for the owner:
    • 1943-D: Lincoln Bronze Penny sold for $1.7 million.
    • 1944-S: Lincoln Steel Penny sold for $373,750.
    • 1943-S: Lincoln Penny made of Bronze sold for $282,000.
    • 1909 VDB: Lincoln Penny sold for $258,500.
    • 1856: Flying Eagle Penny sold for $172,500.
  • The word “penny” denotes any sort of coin or money.
  • Visitors to the Ben Franklin grave in Philadelphia leave one-cent pieces there for good luck.
  • The reverse side of pennies has changed over the years.
    • “Wheat” back pennies were made from 1909 to 1958.
    • 1959 to 2008 pennies have the Lincoln Memorial, introduced the year of Lincoln’s 150th birthday.
    • To commemorate Lincoln’s 200th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln penny, 2009 pennies have four different backs depicting scenes from Lincoln’s life.
    • Pennies from 2010 to the present day have a shield, representing the Union shield and Lincoln holding the country together.


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