New penny's slow start in circulation increases
By Laura Petrecca
penny, often picked on for its piddly value, has
found some self worth in 2009.
The 2009 Lincoln cent slow to spread into
consumers' pockets is being sold for big
bucks. Single coins have fetched more than $1
each. Fifty-cent rolls have frequently ranged
from $2 to more than $50 at online auction
The first of four new penny designs officially
launched on Feb. 12 Abraham Lincoln's birthday
but the 634.8 million coins produced by the
U.S. Mint have barely made it into circulation.
The penny distribution "is slow-going," says
Mint spokesman Greg Hernandez. "Because of the
downturn and the lower demand for coins (for
business transactions), banks are not demanding
as many coins," he says. "As a result, the
Federal Reserve has a pretty large inventory."
The sense of rarity has made the coin seem much
more valuable, says Dave Harper, editor of
Four variations of the new Lincoln penny will be
introduced into circulation this year. The heads
side continues the familiar image of Lincoln's
profile. The tails side features one of four
different aspects of the 16th president's life.
The initial coin shows a log cabin to represent
his Hodgenville, Ky., birthplace. The next
designs, scheduled for release in approximately
three-month intervals, will depict his early
years in southern Indiana, his career in
Illinois and his presidential term in
The former tails design, in use for 50 years,
shows the Lincoln Memorial.
The new coins are in honor of Lincoln's 200th
birthday and the 100th anniversary of the
Lincoln penny's introduction.
The Mint also produced a specially wrapped,
two-roll set of the circulating log-cabin
pennies. They were priced at $8.95 plus $4.95
for shipping and handling. The Mint sold out at
The penny's shortage has helped coin sellers
such as Sonna Young. She scooped up about $75
worth when she went to a Hodgenville ceremony
that celebrated the cent's debut.
"Our primary reason for going was to get some
rolls of pennies," she says. She's sold rolls
from $6.95 to more than $50 on eBay.
But sales may soon slow as the pennies become
more prevalent. The new pennies are "making
their way out into the economy," says Hernandez,
and people are getting them in change during