Facts About Pennies

Last week, a Twitter follower said that he had found a 1948 wheat penny in his pocket. My daughter asked me what a wheat penny was, so we headed to my wallet to look for some. I thumbed through the coin section of my wallet, looking through the quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. I didn’t find any wheat pennies, the ones that have the 2 stylized shafts of wheat on the reverse side of the coin, but I did discover that the penny has taken on a new look. I hadn’t noticed these “new” pennies before and left them out on my night stand for everyone to see. It wasn’t until last night, after a somewhat boring Labor Day, (the weather was kind of yucky) that I thought about wheat cents again. That’s when I dumped my bag of change on the bed. The girls and I began to look for wheat cents while David looked them up online. It started to get really interesting, as things do when you think you may have something of extraordinary value.

Lincoln shown on the penny as a young man. I did find a 1934 wheat cent in my money bag.

Today begins our back to homeschool schedule and because I’m wearing my teacher hat at the moment, I thought I’d post some facts about pennies. Wait, don’t worry, it’ll be worth every penny.

  • The penny was designed by Benjamin Franklin and first produced in 1787. It was the first official currency of the United States of America.
  • The U.S. mint produces about 30 million pennies every day. Can you imagine that?! That’s about 1,040 created every second. They were originally made of solid copper. Besides copper, pennies have been made of bronze and also of copper and nickel. Due to a shortage of copper in World War ll, pennies were made of steel and zinc coated copper. Today, pennies are only copper plated. They consist of 2.5 percent copper and zinc.
  • The life span of a penny is around 25 to 30 years. The U.S. mint melts down worn out pennies and recycles the metal.
  • Lincoln faces to the right, while portraits on all other coins face to the left.
  • The penny was NOT the first coin to have the motto “In God We Trust”. I’ve read that the first U.S. coin to have the motto was actually a two-cent piece minted from 1864-1873.
  • Philadelphia and Denver, are 2 locations that produce pennies. Denver pennies have the letter D next to the date, while Philadelphia pennies don’t include a letter on them.
  • Lincoln’s head was put on the penny in 1909 to honor the 100th anniversary of his birth. It was the first time a coin in the U.S. showed a historical person’s visage.
  • Over 2/3 of all coins produced by the U.S. Mint are pennies and each penny costs .93 of a cent to make.
  • There have been 11 different designs featured on the penny.

Getting back to those “new” pennies I hadn’t noticed before; they are the 2009 Lincoln pennies commemorating the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. There are four designs. One shows Lincoln in his Kentucky birthplace, a second shows him as a young man in Indiana, the third, a lawyer in Illinois, and the last, as president.

As far as the wheat pennies, depending on the year and condition, you can fetch a pretty penny. But, it’s the 1943 penny you want to be on the look out for.

You’re probably really curious about what a typical homeschool day is like for us.  Check out Ten Sixty-Six.

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Till next time,

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