10 Facts About Pennies… (Trust Me, This Is Worth Every Penny!)

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While attempting to find the value of rare pennies for some of our loyal readers, I came across some interesting info about pennies in general.

Just thought I’d share…

Did you know?…

#1 – The average penny lasts 30 years!

#2 – Pennies were the very first coins minted in the United States. In March 1793, the mint distributed 11,178 copper cents. (The amount of copper and zinc in the penny has changed significantly through the years.)

“Every penny counts.”

#3 – There have been 11 different designs featured on the penny.

#4 – The Lincoln penny was first minted and circulated in 1909, the 100th anniversary of his birth.

#5 – Lincoln faces to the right, while all other portraits on coins face to the left. This was not done on purpose — it was simply the choice of the coin designer.

#6 – In a coin toss, I always choose tails. Here’s why. (…although the U.S. Mint disputes this theory)

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

#7 – The penny was the first U.S. coin to have the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST”. (Clarification: see Ben’s comment below.)

#8 – Lincoln pennies made from 1909 to 1958 were designed by Victor D. Brenner. His initials V.D.B. were on a limited quantity of the 1909 pennies making it one of the most sought after pennies for collecting.

Listen to some little-known facts from NPR audio about Frank Gasparro, an engraver at the U.S. Mint whose Lincoln Memorial design has graced the “tails” side of the penny since 1959 (…Lincoln’s 150th birthday. The same year they replaced the wheat shafts on the back of the penny with the Lincoln Memorial).

#9 – Each year, the U.S. Mint produces more than 7 billion pennies. That’s approximately 19 million pennies per day! 

#10 – Over two-thirds of all coins produced by the U.S. Mint are pennies. In fact, the penny is the most widely used denomination currently in circulation and it remains profitable to make. Each penny costs .81 of a cent to make, but the Mint collects one cent for it. The profit goes to help fund the operation of the Mint and to help pay the public debt.

“It’s worth every penny.”penny-the-forgotten-coin-book.JPG

A recent poll by Opinion Research Corporation found that approximately 70% of Americans support keeping the penny in circulation. (NOTE: elimination of the penny would lead to higher prices, since prices would then be rounded to the nearest 5 cents.)

Must read: Rare Pennies You Should Hold On To!

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22 thoughts on “10 Facts About Pennies… (Trust Me, This Is Worth Every Penny!)”

    • Alice,

      In the case of any silver-colored penny from 1982 and after, such coins may be mint errors that occurred when the zinc core in these more modern Lincoln cents was not covered in the usual copper plating. Such errors can be worth up to $100.

      However, there is also a common experiment people do which, involving heat and zinc powder, turns pennies silver in color. Doing that to a coin makes it essentially worthless to collectors.

      Because it can be sometimes difficult to tell for sure what the origin of the silver color of a 1982 or later Lincoln cent may be, it might be best to spend $10-20 on having your coin authenticated by a major, reputable coin grading company like the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).

  1. Everyone if you look at this site you should know im starting a potition to get rid of pennies, because the pennies are losing us money… it costs 1.7 cents to make a penny, that means we are losing money to the penny (70 mill a yr). If we can gether the pennies for the last 200 yrs we could melt them all and sell them for roughly… oh lets say $140 billion.

  2. The penny didnn’t have the motto “in god we trust” it was the 2 cent coin designed by james longacre
    (i’m an 11 year old coin collecting nerd)

  3. i have a penny that says,’ONE CENT’ on it and its old, but also have a penny that has Lincoln’s house on the front instead of Lincoln. Is that special?

      • Hi, Popkorn —

        Yes, that is true, the US does not officially make a denomination known as the “penny” — only Great Britain and its Commonwealth nations do. But the phrase “penny” is forever linked to the US one-cent coin and is how most people — especially non-collectors — identify the coin, which is in part why we use that phrase here.

        Thank you for your valuable two “cents” 🙂

    • Great question, Taranto! Let’s think of it this way…

      There are around 310 million Americans, according to the United States Census Bureau. Now, let’s just say that every American, on average, has just 10 pennies each…

      The math: 10 (pennies) times 310 million (Americans) equals 3.1 billion. Now, 3.1 billion cents equals 31 million dollars….

      I imagine, though, that my estimate is extremely conservative and the actual figure is likely far higher than that(!)

  4. Other countries have removed the one cent piece from their economy and it really does not cost them any more or less. It rounds up or down so it can go either way. The penny needs to go. We will have saved a billion dollars over the next 14 years. Every little bit helps.

    • Hi, Johan —

      If you wouldn’t mind posting a couple clear photos here I’d be glad to help as best I can…



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