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A penny is a
coin A coin is a small, flat (usually depending on the country or value), round piece of metal or plastic used primarily as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, and produced in large quantities at a mint in order t ...
( pennies) or a unit of
currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" is a standardization of money in any form, in use or circulation as a medium of exchange, for example banknotes and coins. A more general d ...
(pl. pence) in various countries. Borrowed from the
Carolingian The Carolingian dynasty (; known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish noble family named after Charlemagne, grandson of mayor Charles Martel and a descendant of the Arnulfing and Pippi ...
denarius The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman silver coin from its introduction in the Second Punic War to the reign of Gordian III (AD 238–244), when it was gradually replaced by the antoninianus. It continued to be minted in very ...
(hence its former abbreviation d.), it is usually the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is the formal name of the British penny ( p) and the ''de facto'' name of the American one-cent coin (abbr. ¢) as well as the informal Irish designation of the 1 cent euro coin (abbr. c). It is the informal name of the cent unit of account in Canada, although one-cent coins are no longer minted there. The name is used in reference to various historical currencies, also derived from the Carolingian system, such as the French denier and the German
pfennig The 'pfennig' (; . 'pfennigs' or ; symbol pf or ₰) or penny is a former German coin or note, which was the official currency from the 9th century until the introduction of the euro in 2002. While a valuable coin during the Middle Ages ...
. It may also be informally used to refer to any similar smallest-denomination coin, such as the euro cent or Chinese fen. The Carolingian penny was originally a 0.940-fine
silver Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (from the Latin ', derived from the Proto-Indo-European ''h₂erǵ'': "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical ...
coin, weighing pound. It was adopted by
Offa of Mercia Offa (died 29 July 796 AD) was King of Mercia, a kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, from 757 until his death. The son of Thingfrith and a descendant of Eowa, Offa came to the throne after a period of civil war following the assassination of Æ ...
and other English kings and remained the principal currency in Europe over the next few centuries, until repeated debasements necessitated the development of more valuable coins. The British penny remained a silver coin until the expense of the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European states formed into various coalitions. It produced a period of Fre ...
prompted the use of
base metal A base metal is a common and inexpensive metal, as opposed to a precious metal such as gold or silver. In numismatics, coins often derived their value from the precious metal content; however, base metals have also been used in coins in the past ...
s in 1797. Despite the decimalization of currencies in the United States and, later, throughout the
British Commonwealth The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the C ...
, the name remains in informal use. No penny is currently formally subdivided, although farthings (d), halfpennies, and half cents have previously been minted and the
mill Mill may refer to: Science and technology * * Mill (grinding) * Milling (machining) * Millwork * Textile mill * Steel mill, a factory for the manufacture of steel * List of types of mill * Mill, the arithmetic unit of the Analytical Engine ...
(¢) remains in use as a unit of account in some contexts.


Etymology

''Penny'' is first attested in a 1394 Scots text, a variant of
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th c ...
, a development of numerous variations including , , and . The etymology of the term "penny" is uncertain, although cognates are common across almost all
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa. The most widely spoken Germanic language, ...
in reference to the coin and is, peningur, Swedish , and da, penge in reference to "money". Gothic, however, has () for the occurrence of "denarius" ( grc-gre, δηνάριος, ) in the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Chris ...
. and suggest a base *''pan-'', *''pann-'', or *''pand-'' with the individualizing suffix ''-ing''. Common suggestions include that it was originally *''panding'' as a Low Franconian form of
Old High German Old High German (OHG; german: Althochdeutsch (Ahd.)) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and Old High ...
"pawn" (in the sense of a pledge or debt, as in a
pawnbroker A pawnbroker is an individual or business (pawnshop or pawn shop) that offers secured loans to people, with items of personal property used as collateral. The items having been ''pawned'' to the broker are themselves called ''pledges'' o ...
putting up collateral as a pledge for repayment of loans); *''panning'' as a form of the West Germanic word for "
frying pan A frying pan, frypan, or skillet is a flat-bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and browning foods. It is typically in diameter with relatively low sides that flare outwards, a long handle, and no lid. Larger pans may have a small grab h ...
", presumably owing to its shape; and *''ponding'' as a very early borrowing of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
(" pound"). Recently, it has been proposed that it may represent an early borrowing of
Punic The Punic people, or western Phoenicians, were a Semitic people in the Western Mediterranean who migrated from Tyre, Phoenicia to North Africa during the Early Iron Age. In modern scholarship, the term ''Punic'' – the Latin equivalent of th ...
(''Pane'' or ''Pene'', "Face"), as the face of Carthaginian goddess
Tanit Tanit ( Punic: 𐤕𐤍𐤕 ''Tīnīt'') was a Punic goddess. She was the chief deity of Carthage alongside her consort Baal-Hamon. Tanit is also called Tinnit. The name appears to have originated in Carthage (modern day Tunisia), though it d ...
was represented on nearly all Carthaginian currency. Following decimalization, the British and Irish coins were marked "new penny" until 1982 and 1985, respectively. From the 16th century, the regular plural ''pennies'' fell out of use in England, when referring to a sum of money (e.g. "That costs tenpence."), but continued to be used to refer to more than one penny coin ("Here you are, a sixpence and four pennies."). It remains common in Scottish English, and is standard for all senses in American English, where, however, the informal "penny" is typically only used of the coins in any case, values being expressed in "cents". The informal name for the American cent seems to have spread from
New York State New York, officially the State of New York, is a state in the Northeastern United States. It is often called New York State to distinguish it from its largest city, New York City. With a total area of , New York is the 27th-largest U.S. sta ...
.. In Britain, prior to decimalization, values from two to eleven pence were often written, and spoken as a single word, as ''twopence'' or ''tuppence'', ''threepence'' or ''thruppence'', etc. (Other values were usually expressed in terms of shillings and pence or written as two words, which might or might not be hyphenated.) Where a single coin represented a number of pence, it was treated as a single noun, as ''a sixpence''. Thus, "a threepence" (but more usually "a threepenny bit") would be a single coin of that value whereas "three pence" would be its value, and "three pennies" would be three penny coins. In British English, divisions of a penny were added to such combinations without a conjunction, as ''sixpence-farthing'', and such constructions were also treated as single nouns. Adjectival use of such coins used the ending -penny, as ''sixpenny''. The British abbreviation d. derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
. It followed the amount, e.g. "11d". It has been replaced since decimalization by p, usually written without a space or period. From this abbreviation, it is common to speak of pennies and values in pence as "p".. In
North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the C ...
, it is common to abbreviate cents with the currency symbol ¢. Elsewhere, it is usually written with a simple c.


History


Antiquity

The medieval silver penny was modeled on similar coins in antiquity, such as the Greek drachma, the Carthaginian
shekel Shekel or sheqel ( akk, 𒅆𒅗𒇻 ''šiqlu'' or ''siqlu,'' he, שקל, plural he, שקלים or shekels, Phoenician: ) is an ancient Mesopotamian coin, usually of silver. A shekel was first a unit of weight—very roughly —and became ...
, and the Roman
denarius The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman silver coin from its introduction in the Second Punic War to the reign of Gordian III (AD 238–244), when it was gradually replaced by the antoninianus. It continued to be minted in very ...
. Forms of these seem to have reached as far as
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe, the mainland territory of which comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The remote Arctic island of Jan Mayen and th ...
and
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic countries, Nordic c ...
. The use of
Roman currency Roman currency for most of Roman history consisted of gold, silver, bronze, orichalcum and copper coinage. From its introduction to the Republic, during the third century BC, well into Imperial times, Roman currency saw many changes in form ...
in
Britain Britain most often refers to: * The United Kingdom, a sovereign state in Europe comprising the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands * Great Britain, the largest island in the United King ...
, seems to have fallen off after the Roman withdrawal and subsequent Saxon invasions.


Frankish Empire

Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first E ...
's father
Pepin the Short the Short (french: Pépin le Bref; – 24 September 768), also called the Younger (german: Pippin der Jüngere), was King of the Franks from 751 until his death in 768. He was the first Carolingian to become king. The younger was the son of t ...
instituted a major currency reform around . aiming to reorganize
Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire ( la, Imperium Francorum), was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks dur ...
's previous silver standard with a standardized .940-fine ( la,
denarius The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman silver coin from its introduction in the Second Punic War to the reign of Gordian III (AD 238–244), when it was gradually replaced by the antoninianus. It continued to be minted in very ...
) weighing 1240 pound.. (As the Carolingian pound seems to have been about 489.5 
gram The gram (originally gramme; SI unit symbol g) is a unit of mass in the International System of Units (SI) equal to one one thousandth of a kilogram. Originally defined as of 1795 as "the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal ...
s, each penny weighed about 2 
gram The gram (originally gramme; SI unit symbol g) is a unit of mass in the International System of Units (SI) equal to one one thousandth of a kilogram. Originally defined as of 1795 as "the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal ...
s.) Around 790,
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first E ...
introduced a new .950 or .960-fine penny with a smaller diameter. Surviving specimens have an average weight of although some estimate the original ideal mass at But despite the purity and quality of these pennies, they were often rejected by traders throughout the Carolingian period, in favor of the gold coins used elsewhere; this led to repeated legislation against such refusal, to accept the king's currency..


England

Some of the
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a Cultural identity, cultural group who inhabited England in the Early Middle Ages. They traced their origins to settlers who came to Britain from mainland Europe in the 5th century. However, the ethnogenesis of the Anglo- ...
kingdoms initially copied the
solidus Solidus ( Latin for "solid") may refer to: * Solidus (coin), a Roman coin of nearly solid gold * Solidus (punctuation), or slash, a punctuation mark * Solidus (chemistry) In chemistry, materials science, and physics, the solidus is the loc ...
, the late Roman gold coin; at the time, however,
gold Gold is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Au (from la, aurum) and atomic number 79. This makes it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. It is a Brightness, bright, slightly orange-yellow, dense, s ...
was so rare and valuable that even the smallest coins had such a great value that they could only be used in very large transactions and were sometimes not available at all. Around 641–670, there seems to have been a movement to use coins with lower gold content. This decreased their value and may have increased the number that could be minted, but these paler coins do not seem to have solved the problem of the value and scarcity of the currency. The miscellaneous
silver Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag (from the Latin ', derived from the Proto-Indo-European ''h₂erǵ'': "shiny" or "white") and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical ...
sceattas minted in
Frisia Frisia is a cross-border cultural region in Northwestern Europe. Stretching along the Wadden Sea, it encompasses the north of the Netherlands and parts of northwestern Germany. The region is traditionally inhabited by the Frisians, a West Ge ...
and
Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066, consisted of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 927, when it was united as the Kingdom ...
after around 680 were probably known as "pennies" at the time. (The misnomer is based on a probable misreading of the Anglo-Saxon legal codes.) Their purity varied and their weight fluctuated from about 0.8 to about 1.3 grams. They continued to be minted in
East Anglia East Anglia is an area in the East of England, often defined as including the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Angles, a people whose name originated in Anglia, in w ...
under Beonna and in
Northumbria la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of Northumbria , common_name = Northumbria , status = State , status_text = Unified Anglian kingdom (before 876)North: Anglian kingdom (af ...
as late as the mid-9th century. The first Carolingian-style pennies were introduced by
King King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen, which title is also given to the consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contemporary indigenous peoples, the t ...
Offa of Mercia Offa (died 29 July 796 AD) was King of Mercia, a kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England, from 757 until his death. The son of Thingfrith and a descendant of Eowa, Offa came to the throne after a period of civil war following the assassination of Æ ...
( 757–796), modeled on Pepin's system. His first series was of the Saxon pound of , giving a pennyweight of about His queen Cynethryth also minted these coins under her own name. Near the end of his reign, Offa minted his coins in imitation of Charlemagne's reformed pennies. Offa's coins were imitated by
East Anglia East Anglia is an area in the East of England, often defined as including the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Angles, a people whose name originated in Anglia, in w ...
,
Kent Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River Thames; it fac ...
,
Wessex la, Regnum Occidentalium Saxonum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of the West Saxons , common_name = Wessex , image_map = Southern British Isles 9th century.svg , map_caption = S ...
and
Northumbria la, Regnum Northanhymbrorum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of Northumbria , common_name = Northumbria , status = State , status_text = Unified Anglian kingdom (before 876)North: Anglian kingdom (af ...
, as well as by two
Archbishops of Canterbury The archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and a principal leader of the Church of England, the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Just ...
. As in the Frankish Empire, all these pennies were notionally fractions of
shilling The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies formerly used in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, other British Commonwealth countries and Ireland, where they were generally equivalent to 12 pence o ...
s (; ) and pounds (; ) but during this period neither larger unit was minted. Instead, they functioned only as notional units of account. (For instance, a "shilling" or "solidus" of grain was a measure equivalent to the amount of grain that 12 pennies could purchase.) English currency was notionally .925-fine
sterling silver Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925. '' Fine silver'', which is 99.9% pure silver, is ...
at the time of Henry II, but the weight and value of the silver penny steadily declined from 1300 onwards. In 1257, Henry III minted a gold penny which had the nominal value of 1 shilling 8 pence (i.e. 20 ''d.''). At first, the coin proved unpopular because it was overvalued for its weight; by 1265 it was so undervalued—the
bullion Bullion is non-ferrous metal that has been refined to a high standard of elemental purity. The term is ordinarily applied to bulk metal used in the production of coins and especially to precious metals such as gold and silver. It comes from ...
value of its gold being worth 2 shillings (i.e. 24 ''d.'') by then—that the coins still in circulation were almost entirely melted down for the value of their gold. Only eight gold pennies are known to survive. It was not until the reign of that the florin and noble established a common gold currency in England. The earliest halfpenny and farthing (¼''d.'') found date from the reign of Henry III. The need for small change was also sometimes met by simply cutting a full penny into halves or quarters. In 1527,
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his six marriages, and for his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) annulled. His disagr ...
abolished the Tower pound of 5400 grains, replacing it with the
Troy pound Troy weight is a system of units of mass that originated in 15th-century England, and is primarily used in the precious metals industry. The troy weight units are the grain, the pennyweight (24 grains), the troy ounce (20 pennyweights), and t ...
of 5760 grains (making a penny 5760/240 = 24 grains) and establishing a new pennyweight of 1.56 grams, although, confusingly, the penny coin by then weighed about 8 grains, and had never weighed as much as this 24 grains. The last silver pence for general circulation were minted during the reign of Charles II around 1660. Since then, they have only been coined for issue as
Maundy money Royal Maundy is a religious service in the Church of England held on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. At the service, the British monarch or a royal official ceremonially distributes small silver coins known as "Maundy money" (lega ...
, royal
alms Alms (, ) are money, food, or other material goods donated to people living in poverty. Providing alms is often considered an act of virtue or charity. The act of providing alms is called almsgiving, and it is a widespread practice in a number ...
given to the elderly on
Maundy Thursday Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday (also known as Great and Holy Thursday, Holy and Great Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the day during Holy Week that commemorates the Washing of the ...
.


United Kingdom

Throughout the 18th century, the British government did not mint pennies for general circulation and the
bullion Bullion is non-ferrous metal that has been refined to a high standard of elemental purity. The term is ordinarily applied to bulk metal used in the production of coins and especially to precious metals such as gold and silver. It comes from ...
value of the existing silver pennies caused them to be withdrawn from circulation. Merchants and mining companies, such as
Anglesey Anglesey (; cy, (Ynys) Môn ) is an island off the north-west coast of Wales. It forms a principal area known as the Isle of Anglesey, that includes Holy Island across the narrow Cymyran Strait and some islets and skerries. Anglesey isla ...
's Parys Mining Co., began to issue their own copper tokens to fill the need for small change. Finally, amid the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European states formed into various coalitions. It produced a period of Fre ...
, the government authorized
Matthew Boulton Matthew Boulton (; 3 September 172817 August 1809) was an English manufacturer and business partner of Scottish engineer James Watt. In the final quarter of the 18th century, the partnership installed hundreds of Boulton & Watt steam engi ...
to mint copper pennies and twopences at Soho Mint in
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of West Midlands (county), West Midlands in England. It is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom with a population of 1. ...
in 1797. Typically, 1 lb. of copper produced 24 pennies. In 1860, the copper penny was replaced with a
bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals (including aluminium, manganese, nickel, or zinc) and sometimes non-metals, such as phosphorus, or metalloids such ...
one (95% copper, 4%
tin Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (from la, stannum) and atomic number 50. Tin is a silvery-coloured metal. Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force and a bar of tin can be bent by hand with little effort. When bent, t ...
, 1%
zinc Zinc is a chemical element with the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and has a shiny-greyish appearance when oxidation is removed. It is the first element in group 12 (IIB) of the periodic t ...
). Each pound of bronze was coined into 48 pennies.


United States

The United States' cent, popularly known as the "penny" since the early 19th century, began with the unpopular
copper Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish- ...
chain cent in 1793. Abraham Lincoln was the first historical figure to appear on a U.S. coin when he was portrayed on the one-cent coin to commemorate his 100th birthday.


South Africa

The penny that was brought to the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when it united with th ...
(in what is now
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring coun ...
) was a large coin—36 mm in diameter, 3.3 mm thick, and —and the twopence was correspondingly larger at 41 mm in diameter, 5 mm thick and . On them was
Britannia Britannia () is the national personification of Britain as a helmeted female warrior holding a trident and shield. An image first used in classical antiquity, the Latin ''Britannia'' was the name variously applied to the British Isles, Gr ...
with a
trident A trident is a three- pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and historically as a polearm. The trident is the weapon of Poseidon, or Neptune, the God of the Sea in classical mythology. The trident may occasionally be held by other mari ...
in her hand. The English called this coin the Cartwheel penny due to its large size and raised rim, but the Capetonians referred to it as the
Devil A devil is the personification of evil as it is conceived in various cultures and religious traditions. It is seen as the objectification of a hostile and destructive force. Jeffrey Burton Russell states that the different conceptions of ...
's Penny as they assumed that only the Devil used a trident. The coins were very unpopular due to their large weight and size. On 6 June 1825,
Lord Charles Somerset Lord Charles Henry Somerset PC (12 December 1767 – 18 February 1831), born in Badminton, England, was a British soldier, politician and colonial administrator.Charles Mosley, editor. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volu ...
, the governor, issued a
proclamation A proclamation (Lat. ''proclamare'', to make public by announcement) is an official declaration issued by a person of authority to make certain announcements known. Proclamations are currently used within the governing framework of some nations ...
that only British Sterling would be
legal tender Legal tender is a form of money that courts of law are required to recognize as satisfactory payment for any monetary debt. Each jurisdiction determines what is legal tender, but essentially it is anything which when offered ("tendered") in p ...
in the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British colony in present-day South Africa named after the Cape of Good Hope, which existed from 1795 to 1802, and again from 1806 to 1910, when it united with th ...
(colonial
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring coun ...
). The new British coins (which were introduced in England in 1816), among them being the shilling, six-pence of silver, the penny, half-penny, and quarter-penny in copper, were introduced to the Cape. Later two-shilling, four-penny, and three-penny coins were added to the coinage. The size and denomination of the 1816 British coins, with the exception of the four-penny coins, were used in South Africa until 1960.


Criticism

Handling and counting penny coins entail
transaction costs In economics and related disciplines, a transaction cost is a cost in making any economic trade when participating in a market. Oliver E. Williamson defines transaction costs as the costs of running an economic system of companies, and unlike pro ...
that may be higher than a penny. It has been claimed that, for
micropayment A micropayment is a financial transaction involving a very small sum of money and usually one that occurs online. A number of micropayment systems were proposed and developed in the mid-to-late 1990s, all of which were ultimately unsuccessful. A s ...
s, the mental arithmetic costs more than the penny. Changes in the market prices of metals, combined with currency inflation, have caused the metal value of penny coins to exceed their face value. Australia and New Zealand adopted 5¢ and 10¢, respectively, as their lowest coin denomination, followed by Canada, which adopted 5¢ as its lowest denomination in 2012. Several nations have stopped minting equivalent value coins, and efforts have been made to end the routine use of pennies in several countries. In the UK, since 1992, one- and two-penny coins have been made from copper-plated steel (making them magnetic) instead of bronze.


In popular culture

* In British and American culture, finding a penny is traditionally considered
luck Luck is the phenomenon and belief that defines the experience of improbable events, especially improbably positive or negative ones. The naturalistic interpretation is that positive and negative events may happen at any time, both due to rand ...
y. A proverbial expression of this is "Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you'll have good luck." * "A penny for your thoughts" is an idiomatic way of asking someone what they are thinking about. It is first attested in
John Heywood John Heywood (c. 1497 – c. 1580) was an English writer known for his plays, poems, and collection of proverbs. Although he is best known as a playwright, he was also active as a musician and composer, though no musical works survive. A devout ...
's 1547 ''Dialogue Conteinying the Nomber in Effect of All the Proverbes in the Englishe Tongue'',. at a time when the penny was still a sterling silver coin. * "In for a penny, in for a pound," is a common expression used to express someone's intention to see an undertaking through, however much time, effort, or money this entails. * To "give (one's) tuppence/tuppenny/two'penneth (worth)", is a commonwealth saying that uses the words for two pence to share one's opinion, idea, or point of view, regardless of whether or not others want to hear it. A similar expression using the US term of cents is my two cents. * In British English, to "spend a penny" means to urinate. Its
etymology Etymology ()The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p. 633 "Etymology /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/ the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time". is the study of the history of the Phonological chan ...
is literal: coin-operated
public toilet A public toilet, restroom, public bathroom or washroom is a room or small building with toilets (or urinals) and sinks for use by the general public. The facilities are available to customers, travelers, employees of a business, school pupil ...
s commonly charged a pre-decimal penny, beginning with
the Great Exhibition The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, also known as the Great Exhibition or the Crystal Palace Exhibition (in reference to the temporary structure in which it was held), was an international exhibition which took p ...
of 1851. * "Tuppence" - Old British slang word for ‘vagina’. * Around
Decimal Day Decimal Day in the United Kingdom and in Ireland was Monday 15 February 1971, the day on which each country decimalised its respective £sd currency of pounds, shillings, and pence. Before this date, the British pound sterling (symbol " ...
in 1971,
British Rail British Railways (BR), which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was a state-owned company that operated most of the overground rail transport in Great Britain from 1948 to 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the Big Four British ...
introduced the "Superloo", improved public toilets that charged 2p (equivalent to nearly 5''d''). * In 1936 U.S. shoemaker G.H. Bass & Co. introduced its "Weejuns" penny loafers. Other companies followed with similar products. * A common myth is that a penny dropped from the
Empire State Building The Empire State Building is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The building was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and built from 1930 to 1931. Its name is derived from "Empire State", the nickname of the ...
would kill a person or crack the sidewalk. However, a penny is too light and has too much air resistance to acquire enough speed to do much damage since it reaches
terminal velocity Terminal velocity is the maximum velocity (speed) attainable by an object as it falls through a fluid ( air is the most common example). It occurs when the sum of the drag force (''Fd'') and the buoyancy is equal to the downward force of grav ...
after falling about 50 feet.


List of pennies

* Australia:
penny A penny is a coin ( pennies) or a unit of currency (pl. pence) in various countries. Borrowed from the Carolingian denarius (hence its former abbreviation d.), it is usually the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is th ...
(1911–1964) and cent (1966–1992) *
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina ( sh, / , ), abbreviated BiH () or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country at the crossroads of south and southeast Europe, located in the Balkans. Bosnia and He ...
: (1998–present) * Canada: cent (1858–2012) *
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Danish Realm, Kingdom of Denmark ...
: (.–a. 1873) *
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
:
penny A penny is a coin ( pennies) or a unit of currency (pl. pence) in various countries. Borrowed from the Carolingian denarius (hence its former abbreviation d.), it is usually the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is th ...
(–1707) *
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...
: (1918–1927) *
Falkland Islands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, link=no ) is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about east of South America's southern Patagonian coast and about from Cape Dubou ...
: Falkland Islands penny (1974–present) * Finland: (1861–2002) *
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
: (–1794) * Various German states: (–2002) *
Gibraltar ) , anthem = " God Save the King" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = , image_map2 = Gibr ...
: Gibraltar penny (1988–present) *
Guernsey Guernsey (; Guernésiais: ''Guernési''; french: Guernesey) is an island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy that is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown Dependency. It is the second largest of the Channel Island ...
, as an 8-''double'' coin ("Guernsey penny", 1830–1921) and of a
Guernsey pound The pound is the currency of Guernsey. Since 1921, Guernsey has been in currency union with the United Kingdom and the Guernsey pound is not a separate currency but is a local issue of sterling banknotes and coins, in a similar way to the banknot ...
(1921–71) and 1/100 of a Guernsey pound (1971–present) * Ireland: penny, as 1/240 Irish pound (1928–68) and as 1/100 Irish pound (1971–2002), and euro cent (2002–present) *
Isle of Man ) , anthem = "O Land of Our Birth" , image = Isle of Man by Sentinel-2.jpg , image_map = Europe-Isle_of_Man.svg , mapsize = , map_alt = Location of the Isle of Man in Europe , map_caption = Location of the Isle of Man (green) in Europe ...
: Manx penny (1668–present) *
Jersey Jersey ( , ; nrf, Jèrri, label=Jèrriais ), officially the Bailiwick of Jersey (french: Bailliage de Jersey, links=no; Jèrriais: ), is an island country and self-governing Crown Dependency near the coast of north-west France. It is the la ...
: Jersey penny (1841–present) *
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...
: penning (8th–16th centuries) * New Zealand:
penny A penny is a coin ( pennies) or a unit of currency (pl. pence) in various countries. Borrowed from the Carolingian denarius (hence its former abbreviation d.), it is usually the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is th ...
(1940–1967) and cent (1967–1987) * Kingdom of Poland: (1917–1918) and (1918–1924) during
Second Polish Republic The Second Polish Republic, at the time officially known as the Republic of Poland, was a country in Central and Eastern Europe that existed between 1918 and 1939. The state was established on 6 November 1918, before the end of the First Worl ...
*
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe, the mainland territory of which comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The remote Arctic island of Jan Mayen and th ...
: (–1873) *
Saint Helena Saint Helena () is a British overseas territory located in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a remote volcanic tropical island west of the coast of south-western Africa, and east of Rio de Janeiro in South America. It is one of three consti ...
and
Ascension Island Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island, 7°56′ south of the Equator in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is about from the coast of Africa and from the coast of South America. It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory ...
: Saint Helena penny (1984–present) *
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
: Penny Scots/ (–1707) *
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic countries, Nordic c ...
: (–1548) * South Africa:
penny A penny is a coin ( pennies) or a unit of currency (pl. pence) in various countries. Borrowed from the Carolingian denarius (hence its former abbreviation d.), it is usually the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is th ...
(1923–) and cent (1961–2002) * Transvaal:
penny A penny is a coin ( pennies) or a unit of currency (pl. pence) in various countries. Borrowed from the Carolingian denarius (hence its former abbreviation d.), it is usually the smallest denomination within a currency system. Presently, it is th ...
(1892–1900) * United Kingdom: penny, as British pound (1707–1971) and as 1/100 British pound (1971–present) * United States: cent (1793–present) * Medieval Wales: (10th–13th centuries)


See also

*
Coins of the pound sterling The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom, British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories is denominated in pennies and pounds sterling ( symbol "£", commercial GBP), and ranges in value from one penny sterling t ...
* Elongated coin (pressed penny) *
Efforts to eliminate the penny in the United States A debate exists within the United States government and American society at large over whether the one-cent coin, the penny, should be eliminated as a unit of currency in the United States. The penny costs more to produce than the one cent it i ...
* History of the English penny (c. 600 – 1066) * Legal Tender Modernization Act * One-cent coin (disambiguation) * Penny sizes of nails * Pennyweight * Sen, equivalent in Japan used between the 19th century and 1953 * Prutah


Notes


References


Citations


Bibliography

* . * . * . * * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * .


External links


Copper Penny Importance
– Blog post & video covering the importance of retaining copper pennies.
The MegaPenny Project
– A visualisation of what exponential numbers of pennies would look like.

– Pictures of English silver pennies from Anglo-Saxon times to the present.

– Pictures of English copper pennies from 1797 to 1860.
US Lincoln Penny
on the Planet MarsCuriosity Rover (September 10, 2012). * * {{Superstitions, state=collapsed Luck