Entries in Pennies (4)


Rare 1943 Penny Sells for $1 Million

PCGS(NEW YORK) -- A 1943 Lincoln penny that soared in value because it was made from the "wrong" material reportedly has sold for $1 million.

The penny was erroneously made of bronze instead of zinc-coated steel at the San Francisco Mint, according to UPI news agency. Texas Rangers co-chairman Bob R. Simpson bought the coin from Legend Numismatics, a rare coin dealer in Lincroft, N.J.

Professional Coin Grading Service, an organization that evaluates and grades rare coins, certified the penny in question, grading it a 62 on a scale of 1 to 70.

"The Simpson collection now contains the finest known bronze cent from each mint, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver, including the unique 1943-D bronze cent that PCGS certified after Legend acquired and sold to him for a record $1.7 million in 2010," Willis said.

The U.S. Mint switched from bronze planchets to zinc-coated steel for cents in 1943 because copper was needed during World War II.

"By error, some bronze planchets made it into the hoppers at all three Mints, were struck and released into circulation. These have become the most famous and valuable of all off-metal errors," PCGS said in a release.

The Lincoln penny is pricey, but a rare dime has it beat.

In August, a dime from 1873 fetched $1.84 million at auction.

An anonymous bidder scored the rare coin for $1.6 million in an auction at the American Numismatic Association convention at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The $1.84 million price tag included a 15 percent buyer's fee.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vermont Store Bans Pennies

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MORRISVILLE, Vt.) -- What’s a penny worth these days? At Power Play Sports, a sporting goods shop in Morrisville, Vermont, not much.

That’s because on September 1, owner Caleb Magoon, 29, stopped dispensing pennies when giving change. While the store will still accept the “outdated, outmoded, overpriced nuisance of coinage” from customers, “We’re not actively using them,” said Magoon.

Instead, the company will round up to the nearest nickel in the customer’s favor. So, if your anticipated change on a purchase is $1.26, the store will give you $1.30 in return.

His reasons range from the micro -- ”I’m a small business with a few employees and we all work really hard and it’s just one more thing to deal with” -- to the macro.

“I think pennies are unnecessary on a larger scale,” he said.  ”Eighty-five percent of my transactions are by credit card or check, that’s why it was an easy thing to do,” he said.  It doesn’t cost me much money because no one pays in cash currency anymore.”

Magoon is not alone in his anti-penny stance. Former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona introduced bills in 2001 and 2006 that would have stopped production of pennies. U.S. military bases in Europe stopped using the penny in 1980. In Canada, the penny went the way of the pterodactyl on March 4, 2012, when the Canadian government minted its very last penny.  

That said, Magoon is not entirely against the tiny coin: He will still use the penny in credit card and check payments.  Nor is he worried about losing money.

“If the most that can be lost on a single sale is 4 cents, then the average per sale loss is 2 cents,” he said.  ”It’s a lot easier since we’ve been using the nickel. Customers are excited. They see pennies as unnecessary as well.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mass. Man Pays Off Mortgage with Pennies

Photodisc/Thinkstock(MILFORD, Mass.) -- A Milford, Mass., man saved his pennies to pay off his mortgage -- literally. He carted more than 62,000 pennies to the bank to make his last payment.

"Thirty-five years ago when my wife and I took out our mortgage for our first home I happened to pick up a penny in a parking lot," Thomas Daigle told ABC News. "I said, I'm going to pay our last mortgage in pennies.'"

And, that's exactly he did. In all, that's about 427 pounds of pennies at 145 pennies to the pound, though pennies minted after 1982 weigh in at 181 to the pound. Daigle says he didn't weigh them.

The 60-year-old, who would place his change and keys in a bowl each night, would sift through the change and save his pennies. On a rainy or snowy night in central Massachusetts, Daigle would roll three to five packs of pennies and place them in a box in the basement. Along with the pennies in a box downstairs, Daigle would keep a scrap of paper with a running tab of the amount of rolls stored in the boxes downstairs.

"After a few years of rolling pennies, I said this is a doable thing to pay my mortgage off in pennies," said Daigle.

In April, the co-owner of Joseph and Thomas Opticians brought the boxes of pennies around to the back at Milford Federal Savings and Loan Association and made his final payment on his 35th wedding anniversary.

Daigle warned the bank before coming in with the coppers. A long-time customer, Daigle opened a savings account at the bank when he was 10 years old using money he made from mowing lawns. At the time, one of his lawn customers was a teller named Mary, who worked at the bank.

"When it was time to get married and buy a house, this is the bank we wanted to use," said Daigle, who married his high school sweetheart Sandra in 1977.

"We're a local community bank and we've been in business for many years," a spokesperson for Milford Federal Savings and Loan Association told ABC News. "We are celebrating our 125th birthday this year."

Thomas Daigle "has been a customer of ours for a very long time and we were very pleased that he was able to accomplish his goals. It was a proud day for him. We are happy about that," the spokesperson continued.

He said his wife Sandra merely shakes her head and says "that's my husband," when asked about the penny savings.

"I'm a man of my word and I'm a man of commitment," said Daigle. "There is one thing you have in life: it's your word. If you say you're going to do something, do it."

Daigle says he's no longer saving pennies. "I never saved anything in my life other than pennies," he added. While coming in to the office, Daigle says he stumbled upon a penny and picked it up. He said he's hoping his lunch total is an odd number so that can get rid of it.

"I'm saving nothing," said Daigle. "I'm not leaving my children with any kind of mess to clean away."

He continued, "I'm collecting grandchildren. I have four grandchildren. I live for them."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


If Laws Change, 'Penny Hoarders' Could Cash in on Thousands 

Inside a shed next to his house in Medford, Ore., Joe Henry has orange tubs filled with an astonishing 200,000 pennies. But Henry is only interested in those that are dated from 1982 and earlier because those are the coins that were made of copper. (ABC News)(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Joe Henry is on a first name basis with bank tellers across his hometown of Medford, Ore., scouring 15 banks a week with one thing on his mind: pennies.

Henry is often seen toting around bags of pennies, some he buys, others he changes back in for cash, which seems a little strange at first. He's not a collector, he is what's known as a "penny hoarder" and he is not alone.

Inside a shed next to his house, Henry has orange tubs filled with 200,000 pennies, and he spends hours sorting through roll after roll of the coins. But it's not just any and all pennies, Henry is only interested in those that are dated from 1982 and earlier because those are the coins made with 95 percent copper. A copper penny is worth more than other pennies -- now mostly made of zinc -- currently priced at $0.024.

Henry even has a $500 home counting machine to separate out the copper ones.

Much like the resurgence of  the obsession with gold, the price of copper has skyrocketed in recent years and the rising price has led to some unusual sprees. Thieves have been exploiting the value hidden in obscure items, stripping copper wiring from phone and utility cables, from construction sites, even from a 122-year-old copper bell that was stolen from a San Francisco cathedral.

In San Diego, so much copper wiring has been stolen from eight different city parks, that soccer teams can't practice because the field lights stopped working.

But penny hoarders aren't thieves, just opportunists. There are a slew of listings for pennies in bulk on eBay, but what's amazing is they include listings for $10 in pennies being sold for $20 dollars. If you think only a sucker would pay two cents for a penny, you're missing out on a business opportunity that Adam Youngs, who runs a massive penny sorting operation in Portland, Ore., has perfected.

He explained how he can sell a $100 worth of pennies for $192, when shipping and packaging are included.

Youngs' operation, the Portland Mint, is locked inside a secure facility that deals with armored cars -- selling and shipping to clients in every state -- and works in pennies by the ton. He said he has clients with deep pockets who are storing huge sacks of pennies and he has inquiries from hedge funds.

Clients use Youngs because he separates copper pennies from the chump change -- the newer pennies that are only worth $0.01.

But in the weird world of penny hoarding, getting to the copper is a very big problem. It's illegal to melt pennies and there is an obscure federal law that makes it illegal to transport more than $5 in pennies out of the country.

Penny hoarders know this of course, but they also know something else. In what could be the biggest legislation to hit the U.S. Mint in 50 years, officials are now looking at the composition of pennies and nickels and considering an overhaul. If the laws change and the mint decides to abolish the penny, people would be free to melt them down for the copper.

A penny saved, many times over, could be a whole lot earned.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio