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 about.com:coins 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.