April Ziemer

April Ziemer

We all have habits that others find bothersome. I actually probably have an overflowing handful of them, but there is one I absolutely refuse to break.

Whenever I receive pennies as change for a transaction (which is becoming less and less as I rarely pay with cash), I toss them onto the sidewalk and parking lot. 

I have shopped with friends who find it odd and it drives my children absolutely crazy.

Let me explain the reasoning behind literally throwing money away. 

Here you are, walking along the street, minding your own business. You’re deep in thought, contemplating one of life’s many issues. You’re not paying much attention to where you’re going. Your head is down and suddenly; a slight gleam catches your eye. It’s a penny. It is a sign. It is the little glimmer of hope that luck is on the way.

For some, checking to see if it is heads up or down is a must before deciding to pick it up. There are many moments I take the time to purposely plant the coin heads up on the sidewalk.

How did these beliefs get started?

Long ago, many ancient people believed metals were gifts from the gods. This included copper that was used to make pennies. They thought the gods for their protection, gave these metals to them. This is probably where the belief that finding a penny is lucky came from. Of course, pennies also have value. People probably also believed that finding a penny was lucky because it increased your wealth, even if only by one cent.

The name “penny” may have come from a few things. It may have derived from the word “pawn,” meaning pledge or debt; from the West Germanic word for “frying pan,” because of its shape or from the Latin word “pondus,” meaning “pound.”

The penny is based on the Carolingian denarius, a silver coin that was the main currency in Europe for centuries. Today, various countries use a penny. “Penny” is an informal name for the coin in some countries, but it is the formal name for the coin in Britain. In the U.S, the formal name for the coin is the one-cent coin or the American cent.

The first penny in the U.S was minted in 1787 and was designed by Benjamin Franklin. It was made from 100 percent copper. In 1856, the Flying Eagle debuted. In 1859, the Indian cent was first minted and a Native American princess was the face of the penny for a half century.

In 1909, the Lincoln cent debuted. This coin was the first regular issue U.S coin to honor an actual person. The back of the coin had two ears of durum wheat on it and the coins were commonly called “wheat-backs” or “wheaties.” During WWII, there were demands for copper on the war front, creating a shortage of the metal at home. Therefore, zinc-coated steel cents were made in 1943; a few were also made in 1944 and are very rare. From 1959-2008, the Lincoln memorial was on the reverse of the Lincoln penny. Up until 1982, the penny was 95 percent copper, but it was changed to be 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper. The copper in pennies is now mainly used to plate them. Four types of Lincoln cents were released in 2009. This was the only year since 1982 when pennies were mainly made out of copper. Since 2010, a Union shield has been on the reverse of the penny.

In the future, pennies may continue to be lucky if only because they’re rare and not used any more. One cent doesn’t buy you much these days and some have proposed discontinuing the production of the penny. This is mainly because the penny costs more to make than it is worth. Some countries have stopped making pennies altogether. Australia and New Zealand, have already made this “change.” Hahaha…Anyway…

We have all heard the phrase “a penny for your thoughts” and throughout my time at the newspapers you would think I would have jars full of pennies for all the random thoughts I have shared with readers.

The next time you see a penny, pick it up and know that I am thinking of you and wishing you all the luck in the world. If you do not believe in the superstition, you can live by the words of the great Steve Miller and “Take the money and run.”

I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you, and look forward to readers sharing their thoughts in return.

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