Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, is credited with having said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” How much cash would you have in your possession if you were able to put away one million pennies? Ten thousand dollars is equal to one million pennies. It is highly unlikely that you could accumulate that quantity of pennies in a short period of time. Continue reading to learn the fascinating history behind the one-cent coin used in the United States while you work out your savings strategy.
What Does It Mean That They Are Called “Pennies”?
Why do we refer to these coins as “pennies” when their official name is “one-cent pieces”? If “one-cent piece” is the correct name for these coins, then why do we call them “pennies”? Pennies have been used as currency in a variety of countries and cultures for more than a thousand years. In its original usage, the term “penny” referred to a coin with a relatively low face value. The word “penny” can be found in various forms in other languages.
People in all parts of the United States continue to refer to that coin as a “penny,” despite the fact that it is technically a one-cent piece. You can hear people using that term today.
The evolution of the one penny coin
George Washington, the first President of the United States, gave his approval for the minting of the penny as the first coin. Benjamin Franklin was the designer of the first penny, which featured a sundial with the Latin word “Fugio,” which means “I fly,” and the phrase “Mind Your Business” on the obverse, or front side, and a 13-link chain representing the original United States and the motto “We Are One” on the reverse, or back side. Both of these elements could be found on the original penny.
Later designs featured a number of different interpretations of a female figure meant to represent Liberty on the obverse, while the reverse featured a number of different designs. Before the “Flying Eagle” design in the mid-1850s gave the penny a major redesign and shrunk it to something close to its current size, the penny went through a number of different size iterations over the course of its history.
Paying respect to the 16th President
Theodore Roosevelt, the president of the United States at the time, made the suggestion in 1909 that Abraham Lincoln should be honoured on the penny with a new design to mark the occasion of Lincoln’s 100th birthday. Lincoln was the first president to be honoured by the United States Mint on a coin; subsequent presidents have been honoured on coins in subsequent years.
A profile of Abraham Lincoln was featured on the front face of the penny from 1959 until 2008, and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, District of Columbia, was depicted on the reverse side of the coin during that same time period. The back of the coin underwent yet another redesign in 2009, this time incorporating a shield into the artwork.
A Glance That Is Unique
The appearance of the penny has diverged significantly from that of other American coins for the vast majority of its existence. The United States Mint began producing pennies from pure copper, giving them a distinctive reddish copper colour when they were first introduced. The United States Mint made pennies out of different materials as the value of copper changed, but they maintained their traditional appearance.
Pennies were made out of steel for the entirety of 1943 in the United States because copper was desperately needed for military production during World War II. Because the steel pennies resembled other coins and many people confused them for dimes, the United States reverted to using pennies that appeared to be made of copper the following year.
A Rare and Valuable Item
Because copper is so much more expensive now than it was in the past, the United States no longer uses as much copper in the production of pennies as it once did. In point of fact, only 2.5% of a penny is composed of copper. The fact that a penny contains even that small amount of copper, however, makes its production more expensive than it is worth. Because it costs 1.8 cents to produce a coin worth one cent, the penny is one of the most expensive coins to produce.
Should There Be No More Use for the Penny?
There is a growing movement to do away with the penny because of the high cost of producing the coin. The expense of producing pennies, in addition to the environmental impact of mining zinc and copper, is cited as a primary reason by proponents of doing away with the practise of using pennies as currency. Pennies are among the coins that are most frequently misplaced or discarded by people.
Since 2008, prices on American military bases no longer include pennies; instead, they are rounded to the nearest nickel and may be increased or decreased accordingly. Those who support doing away with the penny argue that all citizens of the United States are capable of doing the same thing.