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Penny For Your Thoughts

By Staff | Mar 27, 2013

More than likely in your life someone saw you staring into space as you were lost in deep thought. They may have said to you, “Penny for your thoughts.” It is a way to pull you back into the world around you.

Perhaps you were walking along the street and you saw a penny lying on the sidewalk with its face looking up. You most likely picked it up and thought to yourself, “Penny saved, Penny earned.” Or perhaps you said to yourself, “See a penny pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck, only if the head is up.”

Today, it seems that a penny saved is worthless or at least that is how some in the Federal Government see it. The Federal Reserve is debating whether or not to stop the production of the simple copper-looking coin. There is also some talk of the nickel being considered to be removed from production. The cost of producing these coins is said to be higher than their economic value.

If this were to happen, what we would do when it comes to the saying, “I don’t have two pennies to rub together”? And I guess the local penny ante poker game will never take place again. That guy who played the poker game one too many hands will never be able to say again, “Penny wise, pound foolish.”

The penny was first minted in 1793 and was closer to the size of a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar back then. It was that size until it was made smaller in the mid-1800s. For much of its early career it was made from pure copper ore. The ore originally came from mines in England. Later the coin was minted from ore produced in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan. Over the years the copper content has been reduced and replaced with other metals. It is said that a penny cost two cents to produce and valued at one cent. I guess to our government that seems like a deal, especially when they are spending our money to produce this overvalued coin.

Our neighbors to the north, in Canada, stopped manufacturing the coin earlier this year. Reports are that this has led to penny hoarding. Not sure what sense this makes, but I guess somewhere in a dark corner of a house some older lady is counting pennies and rolling them. Just think, when she has 10,000 of them she will have saved $100.

If we don’t have pennies, can we legally say we want a piece of penny candy? Or can a young boy be taught to play the six hole Penny Whistle any longer? And what about those we call penny pinchers? Without pennies to pinch they will have to start pinching some other coin? Perhaps a dime or quarter? Somehow the term, dime pincher or quarter pincher does not have the ring of a penny pincher. After all, a penny is a lot of money, that is if you don’t have a penny to your name.

What about that relative you hope never comes around during the holidays? You know the one you call the bad penny? I guess you will have to start saying, “I hope that bad quarter relative doesn’t come around this year.”

Recently after making a purchase the young lady gave me an uncommon coin in my change. I showed it to her and said, “Look, you have given me a wheat penny.” Her facial expression looked like she was lost in a penny for your thought’s place as she said, “A what?” I tried to explain, but I could tell she was still lost in the a penny for her thoughts place. At last she said, “Is it worth anything?” I told her that I thought not much.

While wheat pennies are sometimes found in change in our pockets, their value is small for most coins. But, I did learn after some investigation that some rare wheat pennies do have some value for collectors. If you find a wheat penny from the years 1909, 1914, 1922, 1931 or 1955 they may carry some value to someone who collects them. The 1943 penny that was produced during the Second World War can have much greater value when found. When you think about the pennies rolled and put away in closets or in mason jars on a hidden back shelf of a closet, I would guess millions of small treasures are undiscovered in our homes.

Whether the government decides to do away with the penny is the least of the problems they have to deal with. For all of us that may have hidden stashes of pennies, we can hoard them until the day in the future when a penny is worth what it costs to produce, two cents. When that day comes, we can say we double our hidden investments. Until then we will just have to hope to find that lost 1943 coin in our yard and hope it is face up.

The penny is part of our culture and our history. There are many still alive that remember working for pennies to make enough to buy penny candy at the drug store. I can remember when the kids would place pennies on the tracks and waiting for the train to run over them. We figured it would bring good luck. I guess the penny did not see that as lucky for it.

And what of those small plastic dishes at the checkout counter, you know the ones that say, “Leave a penny or Take a penny”? Will they all have to be replaced with ones that say, “Leave a dime or take dime.” It is clear, whatever the government decides, it will affect us all.

Whatever happens we will adjust to the impact on the economic markets. But one thing is for sure, pennies are a lot of money, especially when we don’t have any. I guess in the future only those who horde pennies will be able to say, “?A penny for your thoughts”, as we look Thru the Lens.