A penny for your thoughts?

Interesting facts about pennies


  • The U.S. Mint produces more than 13 billion pennies each year, although the official name is the “cent” not penny.  Nearly 70% of all coins minted in the U.S. are pennies, and it costs 1.67 cents to make a penny.
  • The average penny lasts 25 years.  So anything older than 1992 is “above average”!
  • An estimated 130 billion pennies are currently in circulation.
  • Pennies are copper colored, but are not mostly copper anymore.  They are currently 97.5% zinc and only 2.5% copper, the copper being a thin outer coating.  Before 1982, with the exception of a few years during WWII, pennies were 95% copper and 5% zinc.  1982 pennies were made using both formulas and you can tell the difference by weighing them.  The ones with more copper are heavier; 3.11 grams vs. 2.5 grams.
  • Pennies were the first U.S. coin to feature a historical figure… Abraham Lincoln.  The Lincoln penny was introduced in 1909.
  • The reverse side of pennies have changed over the years.

      - “Wheat” back pennies were made from 1909 to 1958. 

      - 1959 to 2008 pennies have the Lincoln Memorial, introduced the year of Lincoln’s 150th birthday. 

     - To commemorate Lincoln’s 200th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln penny, 2009 pennies have four different backs depicting scenes from Lincoln’s life. 

      - Pennies from 2010 to present day have a shield, representing the Union shield and Lincoln holding the country together.



Hey Wait, Is This Legal?


While it is illegal to deface coins, that applies to defacing with the intent to defraud, like if you made a penny look like a nickel to try to pass it off as a nickel.  Think about the machines you see at tourist attractions where you insert a penny and it comes out stamped with an image.  That’s “defacing” coins, but is not against the law because no one is trying to pass off the penny as anything other than a souvenir.  Good thing or else a lot of National Parks and zoos would be in trouble!


From the U.S. Mint itself:  Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who 'fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States. This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent. (Source U.S. Mint)


So enjoy your items from The Lucky Penny that no one is breaking the law.