35+ Incredible Facts About Pennies – By The Numbers!

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Pennies. You’ve probably got some in your pocket or tucked in a drawer. There may even be some pennies floating around in your car.

Many people who read the posts here at The Fun Times Guide typically ask me questions about pennies.

Fun facts about U.S. pennies

I guess that’s because the penny is one of the coins that we most frequently encounter in spare change.

And, if you’re like many Americans, you probably have a stash of pennies stuffed in a jar somewhere at home.

According to Coinstar, the average household has around $100 of change, most of which consists of pennies.

Pretty cool, huh? Maybe you’ve got $100 in pennies laying around somewhere in your home.

CoinStar Pennies

Well, before you start checking between the couch cushions for loose change, why don’t you indulge yourself on these incredible facts about pennies, served up by the number:

300 Billion

The approximate number of pennies the U.S. Mint has made since 1793. As many as 200 billion are still believed to be circulating.

200 Billion

The number of one-cent coins thought to be in circulation, representing some $2 billion.

100 Billion

Roughly the number of Lincoln Memorial pennies made between 1959 through 2008.

Lincoln Memorial Cent

16.7 Billion

The most Lincoln cents ever made during a single year, which was 1982.

1.89 Billion

How many Lincoln cents were made in 1959, when the Lincoln Memorial design was first used on the reverse (“tails” side) of the penny.

1.86 Billion

Roughly the total number of Indian Head pennies made during the entire run of the series — from 1859 through 1909.

Indian Head Pennies

1.1 Billion

The approximate number of 1943 steel cents made. (They’re not rare… but the 1943 copper cents are, as only 40 were made and 27 are known to exist!)

1.05 Billion

The number of 1958 Lincoln cents made — the last year of the wheat ears design on the penny.

258 Million

The mintage of the scarcest regular-issue Lincoln Memorial cent (the 1968-S penny), not counting die varieties or proofs.

200 Million

Roughly how many Lincoln wheat pennies may still be in circulation.

Lincoln Wheat Pennies

103 Million

Approximately the number of Lincoln pennies made in 1909, the first year of issue.

1.58 Million

How many 1974 aluminum cents were struck. (Most were melted and all remaining pieces outside of the Smithsonian collection are presently illegal to own.)

1974 Aluminum Penny

1.19 Million

The mintage of the 1914-D Lincoln cent, which is one of the scarcest in the series; perhaps 125,000 remain today.

866,000

The total figure of 1931-S Lincoln cents made. (Fewer than 100,000 are likely to still exist.)

484,000

The original mintage of the famous 1909-S VDB Lincoln cent. 1909-S VDB pennies are one of the rarest of all regular-issue Lincoln cents, and perhaps only 50,000 or 60,000 still exist.

1909 S VDB Lincoln Penny

200,000

The estimated amount, in dollars, it would cost you to complete an entire collection of Lincoln cents spanning back to 1909 with all major varieties and all pieces in choice uncirculated condition.

100,000 (or more)

In dollars, the approximate value of a 1943 copper cent or 1944 steel penny.

1943 Copper Cent

75,000

About how much the 1969-S doubled die penny is worth in uncirculated condition.

25,000

Depending on the shape of the container and how the coins fall, this is about how many pennies would fit in a 5-gallon bucket.

17,950

The number of acres all pennies still in circulation would cover if each coin was laid flat.

Pennies Facts

5,000

How many pennies are in each $50 face value Mint-sewn bag of one-cent coins.

4,000

A survival estimate on the number of 1955 doubled die pennies that still exist.

Pennies Facts

2,500

The typical price, in dollars, for a decent uncirculated specimen of the 1955 doubled die penny.

1,000

The average price, in dollars, for a moderately worn 1909-S VDB penny.

Pennies Facts

790

A.D., that is — the year the first English coin known as the “penny” was minted.

635

The number of pennies each American would have if the estimated population of one-cent coins still in circulation was equally divided among each U.S. citizen. That’s about $6.35 per person!

200

Roughly how many pennies you’ll need to search through in pocket change and in coin rolls to find at least 1 Lincoln wheat cent.

181

The total number of post-1981 zinc Lincoln cents per pound.

Pennies Facts

145

How many copper-based Lincoln cents there are per pound of pennies.

30

Roughly the number of 1944 steel cents thought to exist.

1944 Steel Cent

27

The estimated number of known 1943 copper pennies.

11

The number of major design penny design types going back to 1793. They include these large cents and small cents:

*Coin collectors may expand the number of design types to an even greater sum by counting minor variations — such as the 1943 steel cent (not listed above) and the various die modifications among the large cents.

4

The number of different penny designs made in 2009 to honor the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln’s birth.

Pennies Facts

3

The total number of branch mints that have made Lincoln cents over the years. In addition to the Philadelphia Mint, these include:

2

The number of ways Lincoln penny designer Victor David Brenner’s initials have appeared on the one-cent coin. In 1909 the VDB initials appear under the wheat ears on the reverse and since 1918 under Lincoln’s shoulder on the obverse, or “heads” side of the coin.

Pennies Facts

1

The single 1909-VDB penny on Mars. The Mars Rover Curiosity is taking photos of the coin over a period of time to test the overall sharpness and resolution of the high-tech camera.

Read next: A List Of All U.S. Pennies Worth Saving

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7 thoughts on “35+ Incredible Facts About Pennies – By The Numbers!”

  1. Hey Josh,
    About the 1931-S penny, you said that fewer than 100,000 may survive. What do mean by SURVIVE? Do they get easily damaged or something like that, or do you mean there are about that many remaining?

    Just wondering.

    Loving this site! 🙂
    Harley Gentry

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind comments, Harley!

      Yes, coins are easily lost, destroyed, etc. That’s why I always advise people who ask me about how “rare” a coin is not to get too hung up on mintage numbers commonly published in guide books. Yes, mintages are helpful in telling us how many coins were made, but it’s often the case that only a fraction of that number survives. The 100,000 estimate is based on how many of these pieces come onto the market and/or are encapsulated by the third-party coin grading companies. Of course, the figure may still be higher or lower.

      I hope this helps!

      If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to help answer your inquiries!

      Best,
      Josh

      Reply
  2. I am researching numbers for a precious metals video I am working on for Youtube. Trying to find a number for total wheat pennies minted and 1909 to 1982 numbers without punching all the mintage numbers into a calculator.

    Reply
    • Hi, Ed —

      You can safely say approximately 150 billion Lincoln cents were minted between 1909 and 1982.

      Best wishes,
      Josh

      Reply
      • Thank you but I was asking about wheat pennies specifically. I am trying to figure out if the scrap value of pennies vs the value as a wheat penny is something to consider.

        By the way as a box searcher I can vouch for the average of 1 wheat per 200. I am currently 42 rolls into a box, or 2100 pennies, and have found 11 so far. 5 are 1944. Found a 43 steel in the coin return of a Coinstar a few months ago too.

        Anyway thanks for the response.

        Reply
        • Hi, Ed —

          In general, common worn wheat cents such 1944 cents, might be worth about 2 cents apiece if sold to a coin dealer, whereas scarcer issues, such as all pre-1934 pieces, are worth closer to 3-5 cents apiece minimum.

          If you’re trying to parse the relatively thin differences in margins between scrap value and the value of well-work common-date cents, I suggest considering the differences between individual dates or issues as opposed to wheat cents as a whole, because you may lose out on potential profit.

          Also bear in mind that it’s still illegal to scrap pennies; yes, you might be able to sell bronze cents on a speculative scrap metal basis (say, selling bronze cents to people who are paying bullion value for the potential scrap value), but at the end of the day wheat cents — except for the most common pieces that have been cleaned or damaged — are generally being traded for their numismatic value, which by a hair is usually still higher than theoretical scrap value.

          Just things to think about…
          -Josh

          Reply
  3. That is exactly what I am doing. Parsing. Its just a single facet of the whole message I am trying to convey. The potential for selling a wheat penny for collector value vs scrap should remove them from the gross tonnage one could expect from such an endeavor leaving the mintages from 1959 to 1982 still in the mix. Except errors, proofs, etc. I will also note that if zinc hits about $1.81ish then they become fair . and since they are plate they will be easier to separate the clad from the base.

    I’m beating the weeds on this one Josh! The ultimate point being to give a lot of thought to. What you waste your time doing if you are a scrapper or stacker. It would probably be easier at say $2.40 zinc to remove the plate than to try to recover the copper from a bronze penny. And so on.

    Disqus is too glitchy to continue this discussion and all I needed was a number. So this will be my last reply. Can’t stand Disqus.

    Thanks for your replies

    Reply

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