I have a friend who insists that the penny is obsolete. There is nothing that you can possible buy with a penny anymore – not even a gumball. All the penny does is take up space and weight you down.
The US Mint seems to disagree.
Yesterday the U.S. Mint unveiled the new designs for the penny during a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. The coin changes are part of the government’s commemoration next year of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.
Lincoln’s profile will remain on one side of the coin but the Lincoln Memorial will be replaced on the other side by the new images, with a different one being introduced every three months.
This means that the life of the penny will continue as per those who manufacture it.
The new penny designs will depict different stages of President Lincoln’s life.
The first new design will depict a log cabin, representing the place in Kentucky where Lincoln was born in 1809. The second design will feature a young Lincoln taking a break from working as a rail splitter in Indiana by reading a book. Lincoln as a young lawyer standing in front of the old state capitol building in Springfield, Ill., will be the design on the third coin. And, the final coin in the series will show the half-completed Capitol dome, evoking Lincoln’s famous order that construction of the Capitol should continue during the Civil War as a symbol that the Union would continue.
The first new penny is scheduled to go into circulation starting on Feb. 12, Lincoln’s birthday, and then every three months after that. United States Mint Unveils New 2009 Penny Designs
A Lincoln commemorative silver dollar also will be released in 2009.
Exactly, what is a penny worth these days?
I consulted the experts at Coinflation.com and this is what they said:
United States Circulating Coinage Intrinsic Value Table
This table does not reflect U.S. Mint production costs, but the pure base metal value that composes the coin. Calculations are based on coin weight, metal composition, and base metal prices. The “Metal % of Denomination” column represents the percentage of metal that comprises the denomination’s purchasing power. A coin that is over 100% in this category has more base metal value than purchasing power.
Table based on September 22, 2008 closing base metal prices:
|Copper $3.3026/lb 0.0895||Zinc $0.8171/lb 0.0271||Nickel $7.9054/lb 0.2994|
From the table above, you can tell that somewhere around 1982 the US mint agreed somewhat with my friend. At the time it cost more than twice as much to produce the coin as it was worth. So, they reformulated the content of the coin to make it cost today to be half of what is worth.
This still doesn’t answer the question of it’s purpose.
Perhaps, we keep the penny around to memorialize a great president or to simply share generosity at the quicki-mart check out.
FYI- these are the designs
Presidency in DC Reverse
Designer: Susan Gamble
Sculptor: Joseph Menna
Description: This reverse features the half finished United States Capitol dome.
Professional Life in Illinois Reverse
Designer: Joel Iskowitz
Sculptor: Don Everhart
Description: This reverse depicts the young professional Abraham Lincoln in front of the State Capitol in Illinois.
Birth and Early Childhood in Kentucky Reverse
Designer: Richard Masters
Formative Years in Indiana Reverse
Designer: Charles Vickers