Did you know that the smallest coin in your pocket has a big story to tell? That’s right, we’re talking about the U.S. Penny, also known as the cent. This humble coin, which is just 0.75 inches in diameter and 0.0598 inches thick, has a fascinating tale that stretches back to the founding days of the United States.
To better understand the size of the penny, let’s compare it to some everyday objects:
The first U.S. cent was produced in 1787, and over the years, it has primarily been a copper or copper-plated coin. Today’s pennies are crafted from a blend of copper-plated zinc, which gives them a weight of 2.5 grams - lighter than the previous 95% copper cents that weighed 3.11 grams. The design of the penny has evolved over time, with its current form known as the Lincoln cent. It features the profile of President Abraham Lincoln on the front, a tribute that has been in place since 1909, marking the centennial of Lincoln’s birth.
While it may be the smallest U.S. coin, the penny has sparked big debates. It’s the lowest face-value physical unit of U.S. currency, a position it has held since the half-cent’s discontinuation in 1857. However, due to inflation, the penny has lost most of its purchasing power. Today, many view it as more of a burden than a benefit, arguing that it costs more to make a penny than it’s actually worth.
The U.S. Penny may be small and often overlooked, but it remains a vital piece of American history and culture. From its size and design to its value and controversy, the penny continues to make its mark. So, next time you find a penny, take a moment to appreciate this small but significant coin!
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