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A Little History About a Little Coin

Who would have thought that a modest little cylinder of copper would spark such heated debates? Of course, we’re talking about the penny, and it’s no news that for years now there has been ample discussion as to whether we should keep it around, or confine Lincoln strictly to the five-dollar bill.


If we look to our northern neighbors, the Canadians have been penniless for over four years, and their economy hasn’t seemed to collapse quite yet, eh? But that’s not enough to stop the diehard American supporters from insisting that we should continue to mint billions of pennies each year.


Penniless or not, when it comes to your coin collecting supply needs, we have you fully covered, so be sure to check out our inventory right after you read on about the history of America’s least-valuable coin!



Yes, the rumors are true—there is in fact history that stems back before the birth of America, and it turns out pennies were present there! In the days of yore, many European countries used the word “penny” (or some etymology of it) to denote any kind of coin.


Mind Your Business

The first official United States one-cent coin was designed by a little-known forefather named Benjamin Franklin. Known as the “Fugio Cent,” it was noticeably larger than today’s penny, and featured an image of the sun shining over a sundial. Underneath the sundial are the words “MIND YOUR BUSINESS,” and to the left side it says “FUGIO.” The copper coin was designed in 1787.


88 percent

Up until the mid-19th century, one cent coins were constructed of 100 percent copper. In 1856, the Flying Eagle cent was brought into circulation, and made of 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel. The obverse side showed a flying eagle, with the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” above, and the year minted below. On the reverse, there were the words “ONE CENT” surrounded by a wreath.


Wheat and Lincoln

The closest thing to the penny we all know today was first minted in 1909. Known as the wheat penny, or more unofficially, a “Wheatie”, its obverse side depicted a bust of President Lincoln in profile, with the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” above his head, and “LIBERTY” to his left. The year is written to his right. The reverse side shows “E PLERIBUS UNUM,” “ONE CENT” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” surrounded by two strands of wheat. While the obverse hasn’t seen much change, the reverse has gone through several design iterations over the years.


Do you possess one of these cent coins? If so, you’ll want a proper coin case in which it can live. Take a look at our inventory, and we’re sure you’ll find something adequate to suit your copper needs!