Q:

What is the history of the penny?

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Quick Answer

According to the website Pennies, the first penny created in the United States was in 1787 by Benjamin Franklin. It bore the image of a sun and sundial above the message "mind your own business." The most recent design of the one-cent coin was unveiled in 2010. Pennies are used in several countries. Since 1787, over 300 billion one-cent coins with 11 different images have been created.

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Full Answer

According to History, Benjamin Franklin isn't only credited for the design of the first U.S. penny, he's also associated with the famous saying "a penny saved is a penny earned."

Throughout the years, pennies have been constructed from several different materials. The first British penny was made of silver. The current British penny, known as the pence, is made from a combination of copper and steel. During World War II, copper became an important resource for building weapons, causing the U.S. Mint to switch to casting the 1943 penny in a zinc-coated steel. These pennies resembled dimes and didn't last as long as traditional copper pennies. More recently, the United States has reduced the amount of copper used in its pennies to save on costs. Only 2.5 percent of a penny is comprised of copper. This amount is much smaller than the copper present in other coin such as quarters, dimes and nickels.

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