Monday, April 27, 2009

My Love Affair with the Lowly Penny

Journal Entry: Weight = 178.4; Coinage = $.49, 39 pennies, 1 dime; Glass bottles retrieved = 3; Ground scores = 1. Significant find, a 1951 D wheat penny.

Feature Entry: The motive to keep walking morning after morning is not easy to sustain. That is why I love the penny. The start of each early morning walk has the MoneyWalker wondering, “How far will I travel before I find my first coin?” Usually, within three or four blocks, a coin will “wink” at me from a curb or parking lot. When that happens, already, I have had a good walk.

Ninety percent of the time, the first find is a penny. In a typical 1.25 hour walk, I will find 25 pennies. Since Feb. 10, 2009 I have found 1,385 pennies ($13.85). Each spot triggers the satisfaction center of the brain to activate a signal of pleasure.

Since the penny is likely the most commonly found coin for us “found money” aficionados, it deserves our respect. A few highlights of the coin’s history follow. Much of the information was provided by Susan Headley from her blog.

• The heads side of the Lincoln penny was very created in 1909 by Victor David Brenner. It is the longest running coin type in U.S. history.
• The “wheat ears” tails side was replaced in 1959 by the current Lincoln Memorial design.
• The traditional metal for the penny is copper but there have been several alternate medals including today’s 97.5% zinc coin covered with 2.5% copper. Until 1982, pennies consisted of 95% cooper. WWII coins were often comprised of steel.
• The Lincoln penny was the first U.S. coin to have an image of a real person.
• The initials V.D.B. were added to the first minting in 1909, but was returned in 1918 and remains today. It is placed on Lincoln’s shoulder at the coin’s edge. 1909 S DVD coins are valuable for numismatists (coin collectors.)

Most pundits expect that the Lincoln Cent will be retired following the anniversary issue. If that happens, the MoneyWalker will have lost a lover that has never been anything but a pleasure to be with always faithful, just like Ms. MoneyWalker.



  1. Good afternoon Sir, I'm curious if Ms. MoneyWalker or any little MoneyWalkers have salted your routes to keep you going?
    All the best, Sharyn

  2. Probably yes, but to keep me out of the house. Do you follow my blog? It was nice for you to comment.

  3. It only takes missing one or two days and I catch myself thinking of excuses not to go out. Sometimes that pre-dawn alarm can be cruel. On the other hand, your psychoanalysis of moneywalking has me nearly convinced me that there might be an addictive component to the early morning buzz of picking up round, shiny objects.

    The historical info on the penny was interesting. Numismatizing will become much more challenging if they eliminate it. A steel penny would be the ultimate find.

    Hi Sharyn! I don't believe that my routes have ever been salted. My family would claim it, not throw it down for me!

  4. Sharyn, FYI, Ms. Moneywalker is a big time needle-pointer. Numi, how are those walks in Carmel?