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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Got change for a penny?

It seems as though the people who mint coins in the United States have gone a bit nuts. They saw that we all were capable of handling 50 different backs on our quarters, one for each state (and six more this year for our conquered territories). And so they decided to start making up four new dollar coins a year, one for each President, on top of the Sacagawea dollar coin.

Of course, the multiple dollar coin designs don't phase us, because no one every uses that coin, anyway. But this year, they're messing around with the back of the lowly penny, which since my childhood has always sported a likeness of the Lincoln Memorial (one of my favorite places on earth). For 2009, there are now four different backs to the penny, apparently illustrating different phases of Lincoln's life -- or at least, the storybook version thereof.

The nickel and dime can't be far behind. Maybe a few different nickel backs every year for Jefferson's slaves -- that ought to be a fairly long run.

With all the different versions of our coinage running around these days, it's just a matter of time before we're allowed to design our own money. They already do this with postage stamps, and I'm sure the government could pick up an extra buck or two letting people have cash printed or minted with their own picture on it.

I could just see my own pennies, with four different scenes from my life:

1. Street urchin in Down Neck Newark, 1959-1970.

2. Smart but troubled university student, 1970-1978.

3. Zany law professor, 1986-20__.

4. Cranky blogger, 2002-20__.

One would only hope that the likenesses would not be too realistic.

Comments (11)

Imagine a Rush Limbaugh penny on the tracks and a massive derailment, that fat bastard. Let's hope the don't have vanity pennies.

I nominate Mayor Creepy.

If they let us put the image of favorite East coast pizza places long since closed, I'm in.

Someone make sure to point this out to Professor Johansen before he does his penny-drawing exercise during the upcoming new student orientation at Lewis & Clark.

It already costs more to make a penny than its worth, an now they make custom ones? Perfect.

The new penny designs are nice, but for heaven's sake, why do we still waste money making them? You say no one uses the dollar coin; that's not true, but it would save almost a billion (yes, $1,000,000,000) dollars a year if we stopped making pennies and dollar bills.

Hardly anyone uses pennies since they're worthless, but everyone would use dollar coins if we just stopped making the bill. Every other country in the world has figured this out; why is the US so slow?


+1, Paul.

Jack: As a former collector of US gold and silver coins; it should be pointed out that the US Mint issue of quarters from all the 50 states has been one of the most popular coin collector programs ever run by the US Mint. It has introduced thousands of kids to coin collecting who likely would never have developed that interest otherwise. In addition, it was relatively affordable as well for collectors to obtain the entire 50 state collection. The new US pennies and other coins are simply extensions of the US 50 State Quarter program to introduce US coins to collectors both here and overseas.

These new coin design programs are actually making the US Mint quite a bit of money. This is a win-win for coin collectors and US taxpayers.

Out of fear that they will let a Hitler stamp slip by, the Photostamp people reject any picture of a person that looks, as they say, "vintage"! My poor Grandpa, a distinguished gent who looks more like Burl Ives than Schikelgruber, was rejected as "vintage," even though the picture was taken in 1966 - it may have been the b/w that done him in. Blatant government discrimination against "vintage Americans!"

I liked the quarters and like this new penny thing, too. Cool.

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