Now that it takes more than a penny to make a penny, many of $0.01 cent skeptics think the United States should just ditch those coppers (and yes, we know, they’re not all copper) like Canada did. But there is at least one penny worth finding in your change jar — a 1792 coin that just sold at auction for $1.15 million.
Because we know how to add zeroes, we’re confident that that is a lot of pennies. Like, 115,000,000 of them.
The AFP says the coin in question was an experimental one with a silver center, and is one of the first ever struck at the U.S. mint. Only 14 are known to have survived. In 1974, it sold for $105,000 to a dealer representing a group of investors. The million-dollar stunner features a portrait of “Miss Liberty” and the inscription “Liberty Parent of Society and Industry” on the front and a wreath and the words “United States of America One Cent” on the back.
“Some 1792-dated cents have a silver plug as a proposed way to overcome a flaw in the Mint Act of 1792,” said Todd Imhof, vice president of Texas-based Heritage Auctions.
“That congressional law would have made pennies of the era too large and heavy for practical use,” he added. “So the mint’s chief coiner suggested making a smaller sized coin using a tiny silver plug with three-fourths of a cent worth of silver and a quarter-cent’s worth copper surrounding it.”
The weight of cents was then reduced so that an all-copper coin was more practical. Any pennies being used in actual circulation didn’t hit hands until 1793 and were larger than our modern quarters.