Someone Just Sold The Only Penny Worth Caring About For $1.15 Million

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.

US penny sells for $1.5 million [AFP]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blueskylaw says:

    It’s interesting to see the decisions that were taking place in the growth of a new country
    when basically all laws were new and to realize what a clusterf*ck they have become today.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Yeah, they used to think things like: “Liberty Parent of Society and Industry”.

    • sirwired says:

      You’d be surprised what a clusterf*ck the laws were then too. There were fewer of them, but to say that they did not wholly conform to modern concepts of civil rights would be to put it mildly.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        In 2010, the U.S. tax code was 71,684 pages in length. I seriously doubt the laws of the entire country back then had that many pages. It can’t possibly have been as bad then as it is now.

        • Akuma Matata says:

          Alien and Sedition Acts were passed by many of the same folks who signed the Constitution. The Sedition act made it a crime to talk negatively about any gov’t offcial. While I largely agree with you that things are far worse today than they were back then, it wasn’t exactly paradise then, either.

        • Cor Aquilonis says:

          And do you use all kajillion pages of the tax code? No. Most everyone uses a couple of forms and an instruction booklet. Wah.

  2. wade says:

    I wonder how much three-fourths of one cent’s worth of silver in 1792 would be worth today?

    • Southern says:

      Silver in 1792 was $1.30 an ounce.

      Today it’s $31.62.

      So it’s 24x more expensive now than it was then.

      So… .75 x 24 = about 18¬¢ worth of silver.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Huh. I was going to guess about a zillion dollars.

        • Southern says:

          Actually, Silver has had historically low prices. It didn’t even break $2.00 a (troy) ounce until 1973, and then didn’t go above $5.00 a (troy) ounce until 1997.. During the last 3 years though, it’s tripled – from $9.40 an ounce in December 2008 to $31.62 today.

          Same can pretty much be said for gold also though – it didn’t start increasing in value until about 1972 as well (having stayed between $20-$40 an ounce between 1792 and 1972).. It’s tripled in value only since 2005 ($513 an ounce) to today ($1,641).

          • edman007 says:

            Most of that is because the dollar was tied to the price of gold and/or silver up until 1971, thus silver was about $1.30/oz from 1792 to 1971, this was by definition, and it prevented gold and silver from increasing in value against the dollar. Inflation still happened, but due to the way the dollar was defined the price of gold and silver essentially never changed, you would have to compare silver to the CPI to see the change in value of silver (asking what the silver was worth was like asking what a dollar was worth, it’s always been one dollar, but the buying power has changed).

  3. j2.718ff says:

    “$0.01 cent”… what does this mean? Maybe I should call someone at Verizon.

  4. kelcema says:


    115,000,000 pennies to 1.15 million, but the link says it sold for 1.5 million?

    And then, you click on the link….

    My head hurts.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Tell me about it. What does the plane crash in Pakistan have to do with a penny being sold for $1.(15 or 5?) million?

      • kelcema says:

        I really was going to hold on any comments… but the several clusterjams in one article was a bit much. =

  5. Woodside Park Bob says:

    Both large copper cents and copper half-cent coins were minted until 1857, when the cost of production approached the worth of the coins. One cent in 1857 had about the same purchasing power as 25 cents today!

  6. RiverStyX says:

    Source link at bottom is incorrect + irrelevant consumerist news = Next in line to take Phil’s place.

    Plus she’s also the same person who stole my source w/o giving credit for the last TSA headline and then ignored my emails. I could do this persons job with only slightly more ethical consideration…Every woman in my life. And they say journalism is a dying field, can’t possibly imagine why.

  7. scgirl_212 says:

    Also it says “Liberty Parent of Science and Industry”

  8. scgirl_212 says:

    The coin actually says “Liberty Parent of Science and Industry”

  9. kelcema says:


    Click on “AFP” in the third paragraph to get correct article. Still no fix for $0.01 cent error.

  10. This Dude Abides says:

    But what about my wheat ears?

  11. midtower says:
  12. icerabbit says:

    No picture??? :/

  13. chefboyardee says:

    Just in case the editors haven’t picked up on this yet in spite of the other commenters saying so, I’ll make it clear:

    Source link is wrong. It goes to “Pakistan moves against airline after crash”

  14. Snowblind says:

    Here is another penny worth a few more:

    A penny intentionally stashed by McQueen on Steve McQueen’s motorcycle…