When you think about it, pennies are a real nuisance. They’re small and seemingly almost worthless, and despite putting them safely in your wallet or purse, they always seem to wind up elsewhere.
Lost Penny Day is the perfect day to take a moment to recognize that despite the fact that pennies may not seem like they are worth much, they can still be found and used to help those in need to whom each and every penny counts and adds up.
- The first penny ever was designed by Benjamin Franklin and minted in 1787.
- The penny we’re familiar with today, however, adorned with the bust of late American president Abraham Lincoln, was first minted in 1909 and released on February 12th to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth.
- The founder of Lost Penny Day, Adrienne Sioux Koopersmith, wrote a log post about her idea, explaining that what she was trying to demonstrate was: “Petty change can make an astounding difference”, which is a positive message indeed, and one we can suspect Honest Abe himself would have supported. In fact, one of Lincoln’s most well-known quotes was, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward”.
- In 2016, over 9 million pennies were produced by the US Mint and passed into circulation.
- This is lower than one of the record amounts of 14 billion minted in the year 2000.
- The US official name for the Penny, is not a Penny, but actually ‘Cent’ or ‘One Cent Piece’.
- The first Official US One Cent Piece produced in 1787 is commonly known as the Fugio Cent. This Cent was designed by Benjamin Franklin and is called the Fugio Cent because it includes the Latin word Fugio meaning ‘I fly’ along the coin’s side. The coin also features an image of a sun shining above a sundial and the words ‘Mind Your Business’ written across the bottom.
- In 1909, the Lincoln One Cent replaced the Indian Head One Cent which had been in production since 1859. The designer’s initials for this new coin, V.D.B. for Victor David Brenner, were included in the earliest productions of the coin. The public, however, felt the initials VDB were too prominent and so the US Mint decided to remove the initials, but only after some coins were released.
- Many people collect Wheat Pennies. These are one cent coins produced from 1909 to 1958. The coins are easily recognizable as they feature two wheat heads on the reverse and President Lincoln on the obverse. Although most wheat pennies are more valuable than one cent (maybe 10 cents), there are a few key years to look for which are worth considerably more than the face value of one cent.
- The 1922 wheat penny without a Mint Mark, is not a coin minted in Philadelphia (which often doesn’t show the P mint mark), but is actually an Error Coin from the Denver Mint. The mintmark on the Die that Denver used to strike the design on the coin filled with dirt creating coins without mintmarks or mintmarks which are very faint. This coin is highly collected, and a slot for it is often found in Coin Collector albums. But why? It’s not an official minted coin, but an error coin.
- During the war, demand for metals, like copper, were at its highest. This caused the US Mint to begin experimenting with other materials to produce one cent coins. One of the tests involved making Glass Pennies. Although a failure, any example of an authentic test Glass Penny would be quite valuable today as a historical novelty. Only two are known to exist, and one sold for over $70,000 in January 2017.
- The World War II demand for copper resulted in the US to mint Steel Pennies in 1943, instead of the normal copper. Steel plates used to make pennies replaced the copper. However, a few coins were minted in 1943 which were copper, and not the intended steal. These coins are extremely valuable and collected today.
- The Steel Penny of 1943 had its issues, and so the US Mint returned to making Copper Pennies in 1944. However, just like what happened in 1943 when the Mint switched to Steel, wrong plates were used for a few coins. This resulted in Steel Pennies, and not Copper Pennies to be minted and go into circulation in 1944. These are error coins and again are highly collected and valuable.
- One of the more popular and less rare error cents for collectors to look for is the 1955 Double Die Cent. The US Mint produced and released about 24,000 one cents which have a double image. This Doubling is seen most in the date, and was caused by a misalignment of the second strike.
- Arizona Rep. Jim Hayes first tried to get rid of the penny in 1989, under the Price Rounding Act, and many others have urged its elimination since, leading the TV series The West Wing even to mock the debate in one of its episodes.
- Former President Barack Obama lent his voice to the cause in a 2013 interview, in which he called the penny a metaphor for the government’s difficulty in getting rid of wasteful services.
- The US Mint has been losing money on every penny it’s produced since 2006. In 2016. it cost the mint 1.5 cents to produce a penny, creating what in the coin world is known as negative seigniorage. That amounted to a loss of almost $46 million on the production of more than nine billion pennies.
- Walgreen’s and the National Association of Convenience Stores tried to quantify that lost time in 2006, when it estimated that handling pennies adds 2 to 2.5 seconds to every cash transaction. If every US adult made just one transaction a day, that adds up to more than 60 million in hours spent fiddling with change.
- This penny is almost as big as a half dollar… America’s first one-cent piece, called the “large cent,” 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.
- Besides being quite the skilled horseman and informant, 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.
- Yes, there were “white cents” that didn’t look at all like pennies. These were the Flying Eagle one cent coins of 1856–58 and the Indian Head one cent coins of 1859-64. They were made from metal that contained 88 parts copper to 12 parts nickel, which gave them a light or white color. T
- The average penny lasts 25 years!
- Pennies were the first coins minted in the U.S.
- There have been 11 different designs featured on the penny.
- It was the first U.S. coin to have the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.”