A Penny For Your Thoughts

June 23rd is National Penny Day (some calendars have it listed as National Lucky Penny Day).   In honor of the occasion I looked up a few interesting facts about that ubiquitous copper coin to share with you:

  • Pennies are normally considered lucky.  Remember the old jingle “See a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck”?  And many a bride has placed a penny in her shoe for good luck.  (I certainly did).
  • The Continental Congress authorized the first US penny in 1787.  It was designed by Benjamin Franklin and was made of pure copper.
  • In 1909, on the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the very first Lincoln penny was issued.  It was the first regular issue US coin to honor an actual person.
  • There are more pennies produced in the US than any other coin.
  • In 2009 there were approximately 150 BILLION pennies in circulation.
  • A 2006 national poll revealed that 74% or males and 84% of females stop and pick a penny up off the ground when they spot one.
  • As of May 2010, it cost the US mint more to create a penny (about 1.67 cents) than its face value. 

All that being said, I’ll admit to being surprised that the lowly penny rated having a special day set aside for it since that poor copper coin hasn’t gotten much respect lately.  In fact, over the past several years there have been ongoing debates about whether or not we should do away with the penny all together. 

Those opposed to doing away with the penny argue that it will cause prices to go up as merchants round everything up, that many charities depend on penny drives to bring in funding, and that Americans on the whole are traditionalists who have a sentimental attachment to pennies.

Those on the other side of the debate argue that pennies are all but worthless on their own (you can no longer buy anything for just a penny), processing pennies wastes time (there are statistics that show the average individual spends about two and a half hours a year handling pennies or waiting on folks who handle them), producing pennies wastes government time (if we did away with pennies the Mint would only have half the work to do).

As for me, though I’m normally one of those sentimental traditionalists, it wouldn’t really bother me unduly to see them permanently retired.  I don’t carry any around with me if I can help it.  Any that do end up in my wallet get transferred to a large jar I keep by my front door (see picture).  On the other hand, if I spot one on the ground, I can’t resist picking it up for good luck  🙂 .


So what about you?  Are you for or against our government continuing to mint pennies?  And do you have a penny jar of your own?

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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.

15 thoughts on “A Penny For Your Thoughts”

  1. Fun and thoughtful blog, Winnie. I collected pennies as a kid, used to get them out and sort them by year. These days I’m more practical and would just as soon see them become collector’s items.

  2. I almost always pick up a pennie when I see it. Like you I don’t carry them around. They can go away–I’ll keep me one or two collectors pennies.

  3. Elizabeth, when I was little my gradparents used to store all the pennies they received as change in a large piggy bank and once a year empty it out for me and my siblings. It was always a high point for us.

  4. I think they should be kept, for the reasons you listed. It may be a wasteful attachment to something, but so many “traditions” are going by the wayside, I hate to loose another one.

    Logic says to stop producing them, at least the way we are now. If the copper cost is too high, why not sandwich them the way the silver coins are?

    Most of us have penny jars which encourage savings, even at a slow rate. The habit of throwing coins in at the end of the day is an amazingly effective way to save. My husband and son each save about $30 or so every month this way. My change stays in my purse. My sister and her husband just took a 7 day cruise from what was in their change jar. I do pick up pennies and my grandson always has an eye to the ground looking for them. It is a good way to get children in the habit of saving.

    Thanks for a fun post.

  5. Winnie,
    I think if we did away with pennies that might just cause a rise in inflation. LOL SERIOUSLY, though, when you think of the marketing ploys that are out there right now, that would open up a whole new technique–no more pennies, so everything would have to be an even number. Taxes would be ‘adjusted’ to accomodate that principle and that would be the opening of the “can of worms.” I personally love pennies. The very first short story I sold was called PENNY MEMORIES. I sold it to Adams Media for their Rocking Chair Reader series, about how my cousin and I would go to the train tracks and lay pennies on them for the trains to flatten. I always pick up a penny when I see it and I DO feel lucky. At least for the moment. LOL Thanks so much for this great post. Very interesting as always!

  6. When I think of all the times I’ve opened my wallet, thinking (due to it’s weight) that I had a lot of money on me. And found I just had a lot of pennies.

    I say good bye penny.

    Now I feel cold blooded and cruel.

    Next it’ll be no more Santa Claus i suppose. As we go down the slippery slope of ending all traditions. 🙁

  7. Winnie, I’ve always collected coins of all kinds but I also have a special penny jar. I hate carrying a bunch of pennies so I save them and when I get a lot I cash them in. It sometimes surprises me how much I have. And it’s nice to get a little windfall once in a while. To me, pennies are money the same as the other coins. I see no reason to do away with them. Besides, how would stores make change? Just my thoughts.

  8. Patricia – You’re not alone in having sentimental attachment to them, and I’ll admit myself that I have mixed feelings. That’s a big reason the folks who want to do away with them meet so much resistance. It would be strange to see future generations look on pennies as an antiquated oddity

  9. Winnie, I pick up all pennies I find for two reasons. One my mother always said that finding a penny on the ground was a reminder that someone in Heaven is watching over you! My grandmother on the other hand said it only brought you good luck if you gave it away and then it brought good luck to you both. Sometimes if I am alone when finding a penny I try to hand it to a stranger.Oh my, the looks that I get!
    My father passed away recently. We were planning a family reunion and birthday celebration Father’s Day weekend and have decided to go ahead with it. We found a jar of pennies in my father’s things so I am buying a small sand box and colored sand and am going to put the pennies in for the great grandchildren to find.
    I will miss the penny if they no longer make it but cannot see how we would ever get along without it. We Americans would soon complain about the price of everything going up because there is no penny for change.

  10. Cheryl – inflation is one of the arguments made for holding on to the penny. And how cool that you have such a personal connection to the idea of holding on to the penny. I never personally placed a penny on the tracks but had a friend who did and gave me one.

  11. Mary – LOL that’s happened to me as well. Pennies are sooooo heavy and bulky for their value. Not sure I’d equate them to good ole Santa in sentimental value though…

  12. I enjoyed reading this blog. To me pennies are money just like the other coins. I use them if I have nothing else on me for change. I also pick up pennies off the ground if I see one. Though, I was always told if the penny was head up when you picked it up it was good luck, but if it was tails up that would bring bad luck. I also have a jar that I fill up with pennies and then cash them in.

  13. Linda, I never officially collected coins but always enjoyed finding really old ones.

    Connie, Oh I love those sayings from your mother and grandmother – had not heard those before. And what a wonderful way to use your father’s pennies.

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