The penny: often taken for granted. In America today a penny is not worth what it once was. Why else would people throw them onto the ground? But I say the penny is worth celebrating and that’s what I’m doing today. I see pennies as pretty, with their copper shine. And if you put a lot of them together, you’ll get a lot of shimmer. I’ve called myself pennywise, and today I’m wearing my penny passion for all the world to see.
When a lot of pennies gather for a meeting of metal, they get fairly heavy. Today I’m wearing two pounds of pennies. My capelet has roughly 350 pennies on it. Did you know that it takes 181.4 pennies to equal one pound?
Pennies may be easily dismissed. Their monetary value pales in comparison to their silvery cousins and green dollar bills. The penny gets no respect! (Except from me.) But it has such beautiful color. It deserves some love.
For this costume I bought $5 worth of pennies at the bank. I didn’t use all of them. Some I had to clean, as these pennies had seen a lot of life over the years. They looked like they’d been through wars. Others were only a year old and they looked too new—like they hadn’t lived at all. (I am very picky—it’s true…) I ended up using a mix of new and older pennies.
When people asked what I was dressed as I told them I’d declared it Penny Appreciation Day. Two people said I looked like Cleopatra, one person said a gladiator and my friend Andrea started calling me Penny Marshall. I’m okay with people having different interpretations of my costumes. Art gets people talking, which is part of why I love it.
This idea probably has its roots several years in the past, when I used pennies in an art piece. I loved their shimmer, and I liked highlighting the beauty of a material that is considered to be of very low value. Irony! Contrast!
Why is it considered bad to be a penny-pincher, but considered good to be pennywise?
You know the phrase “Penny for your thoughts?” (I almost used that for the name of this post.) It may need some updating, to keep up with inflation. Of course, here in my blog land, my thoughts are free…
Here’s something to consider: even though the penny is dismissed by some people as almost worthless, there are many sayings that refer to pennies, which is not true of more valuable coins. I like this one:
A penny is a lot of money if you have not got a penny.
Here are a few fun facts about pennies:
Pennies did not show Abraham Lincoln’s profile prior to 1909. In 1909 Lincoln Pennies were introduced in honor of the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.
From 1909-1958 the reverse side of pennies had the Wheat Cent design, and “one cent” embossed on them.
From 1959-2008 the reverse side of pennies featured the Lincoln Memorial.
In 2009, to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, the reverse side of pennies were embossed with four different designs.
In 2010 a new design was featured on the reverse side of pennies: the Lincoln Shield.
The oldest penny I came across while making this costume was from 1950. Below are a couple of photos I took of pennies from different years. I thought it was interesting to see how a penny from 2012 looked noticeably worn, compared to the 2015 penny:
If you’ll excuse me, I need to take off this weighty capelet. I suppose I can legitimately call myself a heavy metal artist now! It’s been a shiny day for me, but I’m ready to put my feet up for a minute before I start work on something fun for next Wednesday…