National Lost Penny Day

Pennies are a currency that not many Americans like to think about usually. After all, they can’t really buy anything anymore, they’re bulky, and they end up getting lost between the seats of our cars or the cushions of our couches. This is why just about every American’s home and car have lots and lots of pennies waiting to be found and put back into circulation.

A holiday that encourages all of us to do just that is a little holiday called National Lost Penny Day. This holiday is observed on the 12th of February and is dedicated to helping us find those pennies that have escaped our grasp.

The History of National Lost Penny Day

The first pennies ever to be made in the world were made in the 8th century in Europe. These coins were the descendants of coins such as the Swedish “penning” or the German “pfennig.”

The word penny wasn’t tied to any particular denomination, however. This word was used for any small denomination of coins. Eventually, Great Britain would create a penny that was tied to an official denomination, and this is the coin that would become the prototype for the American penny.

The American penny was one of the first currencies authorized by the U.S. Mint Act of 1792. The design of this first one-cent coin was proposed by Benjamin Franklin, and its design featured Lady Liberty with flowing hair. It was larger than the modern penny and was made of pure copper.

Lady Liberty would remain on the U.S. penny for more than six decades. In the middle of the 19th century, the penny would get smaller, and its metal composition would change from 100% copper to 88% copper and 12% nickel.

In 1857 and 1858, the new pennies featured a wreath on one side and a flying eagle on the other. In 1859, the Indian Head penny emerged and would be used until 1909. On U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday, the Lincoln Penny was released.

After the introduction of the Lincoln Penny, the design of these coins changed very little, although there were some changes to their metal composition. For example, in 1943, zinc-coated steel was used because copper was needed for the war effort during WWII.

In 2009, the U.S. Mint issued four different pennies as part of the Lincoln Bicentennial One Cent Program. This program recognized the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Penny and the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday.

Observing National Lost Penny Day

National Lost Penny Day is easy to observe. Just ransack the center console of your car, between your car seats, and between your couch cushions to find all the pennies you may have lost over the years.

Once you’ve gathered them all together, you can then turn them in or donate them to a local charity. Just don’t forget to use the hashtag #NationalLostPennyDay to encourage everyone to do the same.

When is it?
This year (2024)
February 12 Monday
Next year (2025)
February 12 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
February 12 Sunday