10 Things You Don’t Know About United States Pennies

There is probably one in your pocket right now and it has had a long and complicated history before coming into your possession. No, it’s not pocket lint. It is, of course, the penny. Here are 10 obscure facts that you may not know about this unassuming coin. This information probably won’t make you the life of the party, but it will give you credence among the coin collecting crowd.

1.Did you know that the current U.S. Penny contains less than 5 percent copper, despite its bronze appearance? The inner core is made of zinc, and was introduced in 1982 to reduce the manufacturing costs of the Lincoln Cent.

2. Additionally, the Lincoln Cent has had its composition changed a total of five times from its introduction in 1909. The original issue was a coin of 95% copper and the remainder equal parts tin and zinc. The first change was to the wartime steel version, comprised of steel coated zinc in 1943. Next was the change to permit the use of recycled shell casings from WWII in 1944, and that changed again back to the prewar composition in 1947. Finally, original composition was usurped again with the copper coated zinc coin, introduced in 1982.

3. The design of the front the Lincoln Cent, called the obverse, has changed only once during its now 103 year run. That change was to incorporate the initials of the designer V.D.B. on the shoulder of Lincoln.

4.The design on the reverse of the Lincoln Cent has changed a total of four times. The original design incorporated the initials of the designer, V.D.B., although this was removed within one year, creating the second reverse without the initials present. The third change was to honor Lincoln’s 150 anniversary of his birth, and placed the Lincoln Memorial in place of the Wheat Ear design. Lastly, a new reverse, depicting a motto and shield, was introduced in 2010.

5.The average penny lasts 25 years.

6. In March of 1973, the penny was the first coin made and distributed by the U.S. Mint. They distributed 11,178 of the copper cents.

7.The Lincoln memorial penny is the only coin depicting the same person’s likeness on both sides. There is the bust of Lincoln on the obverse side, but he is also on the reverse, as the statue, in between two of the columns in the Memorial building.

8.The penny was the first coin to feature a historical figure when Abraham Lincoln was placed prominently on Victor David Brenner’s design of the Lincoln Cent in 1909.

9. In the early days of the U.S. Mint, copper was in short supply to make the penny. So the American citizens at the time contributed their copper belongings, such as copper pots, to the Mint in order to be used for scrap.

10.The first penny was almost as big as a modern day half dollar. It was first struck in 1793. The penny remained at that size, although many people found it troublesome to use because of its size, until 50 years later.

Monday, September 24th, 2012 Blog

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