Interesting Penny Facts
- Benjamin Franklin suggested the design for the first one-cent coin, commonly known as the penny, derived from the British coin of the same name.
- The penny was the first currency of any type authorized by the United States, and for over two centuries, the penny's design has symbolized the spirit of the nation, from Liberty to Lincoln.
- The original one-cent coin was over five times heavier and almost 50% larger than its contemporary counterpart.
- The first one-cent coin was minted in 1787, known as the Fugio cent, and was 100% copper. Over 300 billion one-cent coins, with 11 different designs, have been minted since 1787.
- Paul Revere, a noted blacksmith, supplied some of the copper for one-cent coins minted during the early 1790's.
- No one-cent coins were minted in 1815 due to a copper shortage caused by the War of 1812 with Great Britain.
- The Flying Eagle cent was first produced in 1856. This coin was notable for its change in composition: 88% copper and 12% nickel.
- The Indian cent was first introduced in 1859 and depicted an Indian princess on the obverse. A popular story about its design claims that a visiting Indian chief lent the designer's daughter his headdress so she could pose as the Indian princess.
- Most Indian cents minted during the Civil War went primarily to pay Union soldiers. After the Civil War, in 1864, the composition of the one-cent coin was changed to 95% copper and 5% zinc.
- In 1909, Abraham Lincoln was the first historical figure to grace a U.S. coin when he was portrayed on the one-cent coin to commemorate his 100th birthday.
- The Lincoln wheat penny started in 1909 and lasted until 1958 and was the first U.S. cent to include the words "In God We Trust".
- During part of World War II, zinc-coated steel cents were minted due to a copper shortage.
- In 2009, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, four penny designs depicting different aspects of the 16th President's life were circulated.
- In 2010 the U.S. Mint unveiled the new Lincoln penny design, which features a Union shield emblematic of President Lincoln's preservation of the United States. The shield includes 13 vertical stripes representing the original 13 states joined together as a united country. The stripes are capped by the heading "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many, One) which is inscribed across the top of the shield. The shield dates back to the 1700's, and was used widely during the Civil War. This is the current US penny design.
The penny through the years...
1792 Fugio cent penny
1858 flying eagle penny
1859 Indian headdress penny
1909 Lincoln penny
1937 wheat penny (the year Penny & Rose wed)
2009 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth penny
2010 - current, shield penny