Americans for Common Cents (ACC) conducts research and provides information to Congress and the Executive Branch on the value and benefits of the penny.

December 3, 2018

Penny Details

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.

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 sold at auction in 2015 for $2.6 million. The Birch Cent, a penny made in 1792 that is named after its engraver Robert Birch, is among 10 similar coins known to exist that were experimentally produced after the founding of the U.S. Mint. It features a profile face representing Miss Liberty, framed by a motto that was later abandoned, “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.” Some say the most expensive penny is now on Mars, after an exciting $2.5 billion ride.

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.”