Honestly Abe, What’s up With the Penny?

Honestly Abe, what’s up with the penny?

Today we wish a happy 206th birthday to President Abraham Lincoln! From an Academy Award winning bio-pic and a … slightly less influential Vampire Hunter movie, it’s fair to say that the 16th President is still never far from our minds. But now that we’ve sung his praises, it’s time to get honest with ol’ “Honest Abe” about the state of the currency that bears his bearded likeness: the penny.

Back in 1809 when Lincoln was born, one of these one-cent pieces may have been quite the asset to buy, sell, and barter with.  But 206 years later we have to ask the question: Does anyone really want the penny? Anyway, here are some fun facts about Lincoln and the much-maligned copper piece.

  • The penny or “one cent piece” was introduced in 1793 and was made out of 100% copper.
  • No one-cent coins were minted in 1815 due to a copper shortage caused by the War of 1812 with Great Britain.
  • Starting out, Abe could have really used those pennies. He declared bankruptcy in 1833 after his grocery business failed.
  • The “Lincoln” penny was introduced in 1909.
  • Lincoln is the only President who is facing the right side on a coin. 
  • In 2009, the United States Mint issued four different pennies throughout the year in recognition of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth and centennial of the first year of the Lincoln cent. 
  • It costs 1.7 cents to make ONE single penny, and as of 2013 taxpayers were losing $105 million annually on penny and nickel production. Does that even make sense?
  • Since its beginning, the U.S. Mint has produced over 288.7 billion pennies. Lined up edge to edge, these pennies would circle the earth 137 times. But that just seems like another massive waste of money and time.

Lincoln would have been 206 today, and the Mint is coming up on its 223rd birthday. I know we were tough on the both of them, but at their respective ages, would they care what we think anyway?