NATIONAL ONE CENT DAY
What do Benjamin Franklin, the phrase “mind your business,” April 1st, and National One Cent Day all have in common? The answer is the penny, which we recognize on National One Cent Day.
The United States first issued a one-cent coin produced by a private mint in 1787. Benjamin Franklin designed it. On one side, it read “Mind Your Business” and on the other “We Are One.” This coin was made of 100% copper was larger than today’s penny and came to be known as the Fugio cent.
It wasn’t until 1792 that the United States Mint was first created. The first coins struck by the newly established mint were called Chain cents, or Flowing Hair Chain Cents by collectors today. On one side of the coin was a circle of 13 links of chain representing the 13 colonies. On the reverse was an image of a woman with flowing hair, otherwise known as Liberty.
The one-cent coin was reduced in size in the 1850s to make the currency more economical and easier to handle. In 1856, the mint produced the Flying Eagle cent with a wreath on the reverse side.
This coin was soon replaced with the Indian Head cent in 1859, which quickly became popular and remained in circulation for decades.
Today’s one-cent coin is made of copper and zinc and has borne the image of President Abraham Lincoln since 1909. From 1959 to 2008, the reverse featured the Lincoln Memorial. Four different reverse designs in 2009 honored Lincoln’s 200th birthday depicting various scenes from his lifetime, and a new, permanent reverse – the Union Shield – was introduced in 2010.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL ONE CENT DAY
- Research the history of the penny.
- Save your cents. Each penny saved accumulates over time.
- Visit the National Day Calendar Classroom for coloring pages and projects designed for the day.
- Share your penny collection.
- Use #NationalOneCentDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL ONE CENT DAY HISTORY
National Day Calendar continues to research the origins of this coinage holiday. We’ve flipped a coin several times but still haven’t discovered the founder.
One Cent FAQ
Q. Is the U.S. the only country to have one cent currency?
A. No. Other countries have one-cent coins. Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe have a one-cent coin that is equal to 1/10 of their equivalent dollar.
Q. Is the U.S. penny the lightest coin made by the U.S. Mint?
A. No. The dime is lighter at 2.268 grams. The U.S. penny weighs in at 2.5 grams.
Q. Has the penny always been made from copper and zinc?
A. No. For one year during World War II the U.S. Mint struck pennies made from steel. Due to increased demand for copper in 1943, the mint used steel to mint “silver” pennies coated in zinc.