Benjamin Franklin, a founding father, reportedly stated, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” What amount of money would you have if you saved a million pennies? One million pennies equals $10,000. It would likely take years to accumulate so many pennies. Read on for the fascinating history of the United States’ one-cent coin as you build your savings strategy.
Why Are They Known as Pennies?
Why do we refer to these coins with the term “penny” when their actual name is “one-cent piece”? Pennies have existed in numerous countries and cultures for over a thousand years. The word “penny,” which appears in various forms in several languages, originally referred to a low-value coin.
In spite of the fact that our pennies are technically one-cent pieces, the term “penny” has remained, and you’ll hear people throughout the United States refer to this coin by that name.
The Background of the Penny
The penny was the first coin issued by George Washington, the first president of the United States. Benjamin Franklin designed the original penny, which included a sundial with the Latin word “Fugio,” which means “I fly,” and the slogan “Mind Your Business” on the front, and a 13-link chain signifying the original United States and the motto “We Are One” on the back.
Variations of a female image representing Liberty appeared on the obverse of later coins, while varied designs appeared on the reverse. Before the “Flying Eagle” design in the mid-1850s gave the penny a substantial redesign and shrank it to roughly its current size, the penny’s size fluctuated over the years.
Observing the sixteenth President
In 1909, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt proposed commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday on the penny with a new design. Lincoln was the first president to be remembered on a U.S. currency, and subsequent coins followed suit.
From 1959 through 2008, both sides of the penny honoured Abraham Lincoln, with his profile on the front and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on the back. In 2009, the reverse side received a new design featuring a shield.
A Distinct Appearance
Throughout most of its existence, the penny has had a significantly different appearance than other American coins. The United States Mint produced the first pennies from pure copper, giving them a distinctive reddish copper hue. As the value of copper has fluctuated, the Mint has produced pennies from alternative materials while maintaining their distinctive appearance.
World War II necessitated that the United States produce steel pennies for a year in 1943 due to a lack of copper for weaponry. The steel pennies resembled other coins, and many people confused them for dimes; therefore, the United States reverted to copper-colored pennies the following year.
An Expensive Coin
Copper is significantly more expensive than it once was, so the United States no longer uses much copper to create pennies. Copper makes up only 2.5% of a penny. However, the use of so much copper in a penny renders their production unprofitable. It costs 1.8 cents to produce a one-cent coin, making the penny an expensive coin to produce.
Should Pennies Be Eliminated?
The cost of producing pennies has prompted a movement to eliminate the penny. People who advocate for eliminating pennies argue that the cost of their production and the environmental impact of zinc and copper mining make it worthwhile to do so. People lose or discard pennies more frequently than other coins.
Since 2008, American military bases have eliminated pennies and now round prices to the closest nickel. People who support eliminating pennies assert that all Americans could do the same.
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