Though it may be the smallest denomination of all the coins, the penny has more going for it than most people realize. It may be a little coin, but it's the oldest American coin and has a long and varied history with all kinds of interesting and unusual facts attached to it.
Here are just a few of the most interesting.
Starting off with a bang, right? What we call the penny is actually officially termed a "one cent coin" by the US Treasury. The British do mint a coin officially called a "penny," and when we in the states started minting our own coins the name just carried over into our common vernacular.
The design on the first penny was actually designed by Benjamin Franklin in 1787. As one of our nation's founders you might expect that he'd put something lofty or poetic on it, but the only mottos he put on it was "We Are One" and "Mind Your Own Business." Benjamin Franklin was nothing if not succinct.
How long does a coin last? It's not a question we think of often, but coins go through quite a beating throughout their lives, from pockets to registers to purses and all the way back again. Between wear, tarnishing and getting lost, the average life expectancy of a penny is around 25 years.
What are pennies made of? Copper, right? They're copper colored, after all. And while the penny was once comprised entirely of copper, that is no longer the case. Nowadays they're largely made out of zinc, with only around 2% of the total composed of copper.
This is one of the more counterintuitive facts about the penny, but it actually costs around 1.8 cents to produce one. It gives a new meaning to the saying that it "takes money to make money", right? Considering roughly 30 million pennies are produced each day, we're just lucky they're not more expensive.
If pennies cost more to make then they're worth, then why do we keep minting them? Simple: the companies that mint pennies make a profit from it. Considering the sway companies can pull in congress through lobbying groups and campaign contributions, we'll not likely see the penny fall by the wayside for a long time to come.
Now that you know more about the penny, why don't you start working toward putting a few more of them in your bank account? Check out our tips how to have a healthier outlook on money, or if you're facing an unexpected expense or emergency, think about taking out a signature installment loan.