PNG President Praises New Penny, But Doubts Practicality

September 22, 2008

PNG Logo(Edina, Minnesota) – The introduction next year of new designs for the common Lincoln cent is being praised by a coin expert, but he doubts the practicality of pennies in pocket change.

"The Mint has been producing cents for circulation for 215 years since 1793 and they’re fun to collect, but the usefulness of one-cent denomination coins is questionable.  Pennies may go the way of the two-cent, three-cent and twenty-cent denomination coins that were eliminated in the 1800’s," said Gary Adkins of Edina, Minnesota, President of the Professional Numismatists Guild, a nonprofit organization composed of many of the nation’s top rare coin experts.  

"Any new design will be exciting for collectors and should make non-collectors take a closer look at their pocket change.  But this may be the beginning of the end for pennies,” said Adkins.

“Next year’s 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth will offer collectors and history buffs the opportunity to re-ignite their interest in the Lincoln penny, one of the most popular and affordable collectibles for children and beginning collectors since the Lincoln cent was first introduced in 1909.”

Adkins explained that pennies have changed significantly since they were first struck by the Mint over two centuries ago.

"In 1793, one-cent coins were virtually pure copper and big — about the size of a modern quarter-dollar — they’re very popular today with collectors.  Because of rising commodities prices, there’s very little copper in the little pennies produced now.  Since 1982 they’re composed of zinc with a thin copper coating, and even with the reduced use of copper it sometimes costs more than a cent to make a penny."