The Penny's Impact: Every Cent Counts!
The penny continues to enjoy overwhelming support from a majority of Americans, and for good reason. It plays an important role in our everyday lives and in our nation's economy, and alternatives have consumer and social costs. Consumers benefit with a low denomination coin, with the penny helping keep high prices in check for millions of America's hardworking families. The penny also fuels charitable causes, allowing America's wonderful charities to raise millions of dollars.
By contrast, eliminating the penny would increase spending for many federal government programs, causing inflationary pressures, and it wouldn't save money. The U.S. Mint has said that without the penny, fixed costs associated with penny production would have to be absorbed by the remaining denominations of circulating coins.
Americans for Common Cents aims to inform and educate policymakers, consumers, and the media about the penny’s economic, cultural, and historical significance. Through coalition building, media outreach, and community partnerships, ACC attempts to ensure that accurate information about the penny is widely disseminated, and that the impact of any changes to the penny’s role in our nation’s monetary supply is adequately understood.
Support for the Penny
MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS OF AMERICANS WANT TO KEEP THE PENNY
An overwhelming and increasing number of Americans want to keep the penny. A 2014 poll conducted by Americans for Common Cents found over two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed favor keeping the penny in circulation.
These results confirm the strong and unwavering public support for the penny. Americans understand that eliminating the penny would lead to a rounding process and cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in higher prices.
The poll results showed that:
- Over two-thirds of adults (68%) favor keeping the penny in circulation;
- Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) were concerned that without the penny merchants might use price rounding to raise prices.
- 71% of those earning $35,000 or less per year want to keep the penny.
National polling over the past two decades has consistently shown that between two-thirds and three-fourths of Americans support keeping the cent in circulation.
A Gallup Organization poll in 1990 and Opinion Research Corporation surveys conducted in 1995, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2012 show Americans are persuaded by several factors, such as antipathy toward price rounding. And a 1992 CNN/Time survey conducted by Yankelovich found 74 percent of Americans support keeping the penny in circulation.
The importance of preserving the penny goes well beyond high public acceptance and historical significance. A 2006 Coinstar National Currency Poll found that public support spiked when people became educated about the issues around the penny, such as rounding at the cash register. Public support for the penny jumped to 79% in 2006, a time when Congress was discussing penny elimination.
Thus, polls conducted by Americans for Common Cents and independent polls such as those by Coinstar, USA Today, and CNN/Time show overwhelming public support for the penny.
Links of interest:
In celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday bicentennial in 2009, the United States Mint issued four new versions of the penny, to be released on a rotating basis. More information about the Lincoln Bicentennial is available here.
2009 Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Program Fact Sheet
Program: In 2009, the United States Mint minted and issued four different one-cent coins in recognition of the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birth and the 100th anniversary of the production of the Lincoln cent.
Obverse Design: The obverse (heads) continues to bear the familiar bust of President Lincoln currently on the one-cent coin designed by Victor D. Brenner, with the inscriptions "In God We Trust," Liberty" and the year of minting, or issuance.
Reverse Designs: The reverse (tails) reflect four unique designs, each representing a different period, or theme, of the life of President Lincoln as outlined in Title III of Public Law 109-145, the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005. The designs for the coins were approved by the Secretary of the Treasury after consultation with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts, and review by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
- Birth and early childhood in Kentucky (1809-1816) -- features a log cabin designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer Richard Masters and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz.
- Formative years in Indiana (1816-1830) -- depicts a young Lincoln reading while taking a break from working as a rail splitter in Indiana. Designed and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Charles Vickers.
- Professional life in Illinois (1830-1861) -- depicts Lincoln as a young professional standing in front of the old state capitol building in Springfield. Designed by United States Mint AIP Master Designer Joel Iskowilz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart.
- Presidency in Washington, DC (1861-1865) -- features the half-finished United States Capitol dome, symbolizing a Nation torn apart by civil war and the resolve Lincoln showed as he guided the country through its worst crisis. Designed by United States Mint AIP Master Designer Susan Gamble and sculpted by United States Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna.
Reverse Inscriptions: Each reverse design has the inscriptions, "United States of America," "E Pluribus Unum" and "One Cent." The first coin (log cabin) also has the inscription "1809."
Issuance: The new one-cent reverse designs were issued at approximately three-month intervals throughout 2009.
Specifications: The four new circulating 2009 Abraham Lincoln one-cent coins maintain the same specifications as the current one-cent coin:
Composition: Copper-Plated Zinc (2.5% Copper, balance Zinc)
Weight: 2.500 grams
Diameter: 0.750 in., 19.05 mm
Thickness: 1.55 mm
Numismatic Lincoln Bicentennial One-Cent Coins: The United States Mint also minted and issued numismatic 2009 one-cent coins with the exact metallic content as contained in the 1909 one-cent coin (95% Copper, 5% Tin and Zinc). These numismatic versions were included in the United States Mint's annual product offerings.
The one-cent coin, commonly known as the penny, was the first currency of any type authorized by the United States, and for over two centuries, the penny's design has symbolized the spirit of the nation, from Liberty to Lincoln. The design for the first one-cent coin was suggested by Benjamin Franklin.
The original one-cent coin was over five times heavier and almost 50% lager than its contemporary counterpart. The word "penny" is derived from the original British coin of the same name. Over 300 billion one-cent coins, with 11 different designs, have been minted since 1787.
The first one-cent coin was struck in 1787 by a private mint. This coin, known as the Fugio cent, was 100% copper and this composition would continue until the mid-1800's. Paul Revere, a noted blacksmith, supplied some of the copper for one-cent coins minted during the early 1790's.
No one-cent coins were minted in 1815 due to a copper shortage caused by the War of 1812 with Great Britain.
The Flying Eagle cent was first produced in 1856. This coin was notable for its change in composition - - 88% copper and 12% nickel.
The Indian cent was first introduced in 1859 and depicted an Indian princess on the obverse. A popular story about its design claims a visiting Indian chief lent the designer's daughter his headdress so she could pose as the Indian princess. Most Indian cents minted during the Civil War went primarily to pay Union soldiers. After the Civil War, in 1864, the composition of the one-cent coin was changed to 95% copper and 5% zinc.
The one-cent coin was made legal tender by the Coinage Act of 1864.
In 1909, Abraham Lincoln was the first historical figure to grace a U.S. coin when he was portrayed on the one-cent coin to commemorate his 100th birthday. The Lincoln penny was also the first U.S. cent to include the words "In God We Trust."
During part of World War II, zinc-coated steel cents were struck due to a copper shortage.
In 2009, to honor the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, four penny designs depicting different aspects of the 16th President's life were circulated.
In the current 2010 design, "Preservation of the Union", the reverse design is emblematic of President Abraham Lincoln's preservation of the United States as a single and united country, with a union shield with a scroll draped across and the inscription ONE CENT. The obverse (heads) continues to bear the familiar Victor David Brenner likeness of President Lincoln that has appeared on the coin since 1909.
The U.S. one-cent coin is 19 millimeters in diameter and weighs 2.5 grams.
The composition of the penny is 97.5% zinc and 2.5 % copper.
There have been 16 different designs featured on the penny.
According to the U.S. Treasury, a circulating coin (e.g., penny, nickel, dime) lasts nearly 30 years. (See also coin production and circulation data via the Treasury)
The most "expensive" penny is a very rare 1943 copper alloy cent. Only 40 were produced and one sold for $1.7 million in 2012.
During its early penny-making years, the U.S. Mint was so short on copper that it accepted copper utensils, nails and scrap from the public to melt down for the coins.
The Lincoln penny was the first U.S. coin to feature a historic figure. President Abraham Lincoln has been on the penny since 1909, the 100th anniversary of his birth.
The Lincoln penny was the first one-cent coin on which appeared the words "In God We Trust."
The U.S. Mint unveiled the 2010 Lincoln penny design during a Springfield, Illinois ceremony on February 11. The reverse design features a Union shield emblematic of President Lincoln's preservation of the United States. The shield includes 13 vertical stripes representing the original 13 states joined together as a united country. The stripes are capped by the heading "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many, One) which is inscribed across the top of the shield.
The shield dates back to the 1700's, and was used widely during the Civil War.
The 2010 Lincoln penny design evolved from the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 which required a new penny design for regular use be developed for use in 2010 and beyond, symbolizing President Lincoln's preservation of the United States as "a single and united country."
Initially, 18 designs were submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. Both organizations submitted their recommended designs to US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner, who selected the Union shield design. Lyndall Bass, an associate designer with the US Mint created the design, and Joseph F. Menna was the design sculptor.
The Union shield design replaces four 2009 designs depicting different aspects of President Lincoln's life and the 1950 to 2000 Lincoln Memorial design.
For more information on the new 2010 penny, please click here to visit the US Mint website