# How many copper pennies does it take to make a pound?

Copper pennies have been used as currency in the United States for over 200 years. The composition of the penny has changed over time, but for most of its history it has been made primarily of copper. A natural question one might ask is, how many copper pennies does it take to equal one pound? This article will provide the answer, along with some background information on the penny and its specifications.

## Quick Facts on the Penny

Here are some key facts about the penny that are relevant to determining how many it takes to make a pound:

• Since 1982, pennies have been made of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. Prior to 1982, they were 95% copper and 5% zinc.
• A copper penny weighs 3.11 grams.
• There are 454 grams in one pound.
• The diameter of a penny is 19.05 mm.
• The thickness of a penny is 1.52 mm.

Knowing the weight of a single copper penny and the total grams in a pound will allow us to calculate the number needed.

## Determining the Number of Pennies in a Pound

To determine how many copper pennies it takes to make a pound, we need to go through a simple math calculation:

1. A single copper penny weighs 3.11 grams
2. There are 454 grams in one pound
3. To calculate: divide 454 grams by 3.11 grams per penny
4. The result is approximately 146 pennies

Therefore, the total number of copper pennies needed to make one pound is 146.

To double check, let’s take the total number of pennies and multiply by the weight of a single penny:

146 pennies x 3.11 grams per penny = 454 grams

This confirms that 146 copper pennies weighs 454 grams, which equals one pound.

## Visualizing 146 Pennies

To help visualize what 146 pennies look like, here is an image showing that quantity:

As you can see, that’s quite a lot of pennies! Getting your hands on 146 copper pennies these days may be a bit difficult, since most pennies in circulation are now made primarily of zinc instead of copper. But you could always sort through penny rolls from a bank to find 146 copper ones.

## Other Equivalents to 146 Pennies

To further conceptualize the quantity of 146 pennies, here are some other facts:

• It’s the same weight as a full can of soda, which is 12 ounces.
• 146 pennies stacked would be about 4.5 inches high.
• Spread out flat, 146 pennies would cover over two-thirds of a standard 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper.

As you can see, while 146 may seem like a random number, when you consider it’s the number of copper pennies in a pound, it represents quite a substantial pile.

## A Brief History of the Penny

Before we move on, let’s take a quick look at some key historical facts about the penny to provide useful context:

• The first official United States penny was minted in 1787.
• The original penny was 100% copper.
• Pennies were all copper until 1982 when the composition changed.
• Wheat pennies were issued from 1909 to 1958.
• The Lincoln penny debuted in 1909 and is still in circulation today.
• Major designs like the Lincoln Memorial cent appeared in 1959.

This background information demonstrates that the penny has a long and storied history in American culture. Its origins trace back to the founding of the nation, and its design has evolved significantly over the centuries.

## The Buying Power of 146 Pennies Over Time

While 146 pennies make a pound, the real value of that quantity has changed a lot based on inflation. Here’s a look at the buying power of 146 pennies in different eras:

Year Buying Power of 146 Pennies
1790 Equivalent to \$3.80
1850 Equivalent to \$4.60
1900 Equivalent to \$4.20
1950 Equivalent to \$1.50
2000 Equivalent to \$1.46

As you can see, inflation has significantly decreased the purchasing power of 146 pennies over the centuries. While in 1790 they were worth the equivalent of \$3.80, that buying power had declined to just \$1.46 by 2000. This demonstrates why the penny’s usefulness as currency has diminished so much.

### Penny Debates – To Keep or Not to Keep

The decline in the penny’s real value has led many economists and lawmakers to debate whether the penny should still be in circulation. Some key parts of that debate include:

• Keep: Has historical significance, useful for pricing in multiples of 5 cents
• Eliminate: Costs more to produce than 1 cent, not useful for transactions
• Round prices: An alternative is to round prices to the nearest 5 cents instead of using pennies

Despite periodic debates about the penny’s utility and whether to cease production, it continues to remain legal tender in the United States for the time being.

## The Composition and Maintenance of Pennies

Since the metallic composition of pennies impacts their usefulness and longevity, it’s worth exploring some additional details surrounding their current design:

### Modern Zinc/Copper Pennies

• Made of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper since 1982
• Plating copper on the outside helps prevent corrosion of the zinc interior
• Thinner and lighter than pure copper pennies
• Much less valuable than the older copper versions

### Maintenance of Pennies

• Cleaning pennies with lemon juice or vinegar can help restore copper color
• Storing pennies in a dry, cool location minimizes corrosion
• Wheat pennies and vintage coins have higher collectible value if well preserved
• Coins that are scratched, warped or corroded typically have less value

Being mindful of the composition and proper maintenance can help increase the longevity and value of pennies in your possession, particularly older ones with more copper.

Beyond just their use as currency, pennies have some intriguing quirks and fun facts associated with them. Here are a few fascinating trivia tidbits about the penny:

• There are around 147 million circulating pennies currently in existence.
• Abraham Lincoln faced the opposite direction on the penny before 1959.
• The 1943 steel cent was minted during WWII due to copper shortages.
• Some 1943 copper cents have sold for over \$100,000 at auction.
• The profile of Abraham Lincoln was restored to the penny in 2010 after 50 years.
• Dropping pennies off the Empire State Building can be dangerous and deadly.

The humble penny certainly has some surprising history and unusual attributes beyond just being worth one cent!

## Penny Totals Over a Lifetime

Over a lifetime, an average person will acquire, spend, lose, find and collect many pennies. Some estimates of total pennies passing through someone’s possession include:

• Child – May collect 200-500 pennies from allowance, gifts, tooth fairy
• Young Adult – May acquire 5,000-10,000 pennies from change and transactions
• Middle Age – Likely to obtain another 10,000+ pennies in their lifetime
• Senior – May have another 5,000-10,000 pennies pass through their hands

So while 146 pennies make up one pound, the average person probably interacts with 20,000-30,000 pennies over their whole life. That’s over 200 pounds worth of pennies!

## Conclusion

In conclusion, to answer the original question posed – it takes 146 copper pennies to equal one pound. While that may seem like a high number, when you consider the low weight and small size of a penny, it represents a substantial pile of coins.

We covered a variety of other related facts about pennies in this article, including its history, composition, value changes, maintenance, and trivia. The humble penny has an intriguing role in commerce, culture and society over the last 200+ years in America. Regardless of whether it stays in circulation or not, the penny will always represent an interesting part of our nation’s story.