Monday, March 02, 2009

A Penny For Your Thoughts

Recently the U.S. Mint released information about new designs for the penny that is being used to celebrate what would have been Abe Lincoln’s 200th birthday. That got me to thinking about the penny and how much we still use it. A lot of people wouldn’t even stoop to pick one up if they saw one.

I’m not much of a coin collector really. I have a handful of coins that have some significance attached to them. One is a 1922 silver liberty dollar, which may or may not actually have some value to it. I have two JFK half dollars from the early 1970s I‘ve been holding on to because JFK meant so much to my dad. There’s also a Susan B. Anthony dollar from 1979. That’s about it. I used to have a $2 bill, but don’t know what happened to it.

Pennies I used to go through just to see if I could find one that goes way back. I tried that recently with the other change I throw into a container until it gets worth cashing in. The newest was a 2007 and the oldest was from 1964. If I see one of the new Lincolns I’ll put it aside with my other precious few coins worth saving.

Among all our coins the Lincoln penny has to be one of the best traveled. Imagine the hopes and dreams of the people whose hands those pennies passed through over the years. I’d like to think that the 1964 penny I came across slipped through the fingers of a Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg or even Barack Obama somewhere over the course of its travels.

Or imagine the history that could be connected to that one particular penny. It was minted a year after JFK was assassinated. Maybe it hitched a ride with one of the scientists working on Apollo 11. It sat inside the penny loafer of someone working at the Watergate Hotel in the early 70’s. Jangled in the loose change of the pant’s pocket of a Chrysler executive working on the bail out in the 1980s. Was part of the change given back for some food purchased at a Packer’s game in the 1990s. It helped pay for a magazine at a news stand in New York City on September 11th, 2001. Finally it came to rest in a child’s piggy bank until that child, now a high school grad, cashed it in to help pay for college.

A penny saved, is not a penny spurned.

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