National Lucky Penny Day
The U.S. penny has been under debate since at least 1990—if not earlier—due to the fact that the metals used to make it are worth more than the penny itself. While other countries have eliminated coins they feel are no longer worth producing, the United States continues to mint them. Perhaps this is because pennies throughout history have been considered lucky coins, a fact immortalized by National Lucky Penny Day, observed annually on May 23.
The History of the Penny
Unable to uncover the history of National Lucky Penny Day, we decided to go on a journey to uncover the history behind the penny. We wanted to find out the origins of penny coins and why people are so attached to them despite the inconvenience of their use.
The first English coin known as a penny was introduced in 790 AD by Anglo-Saxon King Offa. Unlike pennies that would come later, this coin was made entirely of silver. Eventually, British pennies, or pence, would be made of copper-plated steel instead of silver and become worth 1/100th of a pound.
In the U.S., the first one-cent piece was minted in 1793. It was originally minted as a one-cent piece to distinguish it from the British penny, but habits are hard to break, and Americans continued to refer to them as pennies—a habit that continues to this day. Oh, by the way, the first American penny was reportedly designed by none other than Benjamin Franklin. This penny was known as the Fugio Cent.
As the value of copper has increased over the years, and the value of the penny has decreased due to inflation, the expense of producing them has gone up. Now it’s estimated that it costs almost 1.8 cents to produce each one.
Facts About the U.S. Penny
- The image of Abraham Lincoln on pennies was designed by Victor David Brenner.
- The average penny remains in circulation for over 25 years.
- In March 1793, the first batch of pennies was minted—11,178 pennies in all.
- The pennies of 1793 were quite large and hard to use but wouldn’t be resized until 1857.
Observing National Lucky Penny Day
There really is no specific way to celebrate National Lucky Penny Day, unless you decide to count how many pennies you can collect on this day or add some pennies to your coin collection. You can use the hashtag #NationalLuckyPennyDay on your social media accounts to let everyone know you’re observing this day. If you do, be sure to post some pictures of pennies along with it.