Facts about Pennies

, , Leave a comment


1.Originally, Penny denoted any Coin or Money

The term penny with its varying pronunciation across Europe such as ‘pfennig’ in German and ‘penning’ in Swedish originally referred to any kind of money or coin and not only a small denomination. The first coin in England called the penny was introduced by an Anglo-Saxon King called Offa in 790 A.D. The whole coin was made of silver. British pennies, known as pence, are today minted from copper with steel plates.

2.American Penny is officially called One-Cent Piece

Officially, the American penny is called the one-cent piece. The first American one-cent coins were minted in 1793. At the time, the one-cent piece was the same size as the half dollar coins used today and were 100% copper. However, the Americans kept using the British term, Penny, to refer to the one-cent piece out of habit.

3.The American Penny was designed by Benjamin Franklin

The first penny in the U.S was reportedly developed by Benjamin Franklin in 1787. The penny, referred to as the Fugio cent has a sun image and bears the phrase ‘Mind Your Business’ below the sundial. On the coin’s reverse side, thirteen links that represent an original form a chain around the motto ‘We are One.’

4.Copper Content in American Pennies

The amount of copper used to make American pennies has reduced significantly over time as a result of rising prices. This costly metal consists about 2.5% of one-cent pieces that were minted after 1982. On the other hand, dimes, nickels and quarters are mostly made of copper. Today, the cost of producing pennies is higher compared to their face value as each penny costs about 1.8 cent to make.

5.The Lincoln Cent

The Lincoln cent was introduced by Teddy Roosevelt in 1909 in commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday anniversary. The Lincoln cent was the first coin in the U.S to feature the image of a real person contrary to ‘liberty’ personifications that appeared on previous designs. Fifty years after the introduction of the Lincoln Cent, the Lincoln Memorial was placed on the reverse side of pennies including a small statue representation within it.

6.Abraham Lincoln’s image on American Pennies

Victor David Brenner designed Abraham Lincoln’s image that appears on American pennies today. Victor emigrated to the U.S in 1890 from Lithuania and was a top medalist. Victor had fled his country following persecution he faced for being of Jewish ancestry.


During the Second World War, copper supplies were important in manufacturing weapons. Due to this, the U.S Mint opted to cast the pennies minted in 1943 in zinc coated steel. These pennies were nicknamed ‘steelies’ and caused confusion among the public because they looked like dimes. ‘Steelies’ also deteriorated fast and rusted.

8.The First Cent

The first cent had an image of a lady representing liberty whose hair was flowing. Its size was much bigger compared to the penny used today and was minted from pure copper. Today’s penny has zinc and copper. Each penny has an image of Abraham Lincoln and has had this image for over 100 years.

9.Copper and Nickel

Congress asked the U.S. Mint in 1857 to mint smaller cents from a mixture of copper and nickel. The smaller cents were more appealing and easier to use. The front side of these cents had an image of a flying eagle while the reverse side has a wreath.

10.Use of Foreign Coins

The United States Congress banned the use of foreign currency in 1857 despite the use of foreign coin over many years. The U.S Mint was however allowed to melt the foreign coins and mint American coins.

Tea Time Quiz

[forminator_poll id="23176"]

Leave a Reply