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RF: Add it up | Pamdemonium
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RF: Add it up

November 7, 2010

Random Fact wanted to know how many pennies are in a pound because weighing a cookie tin filled with the coins is easier than counting them. Like so many questions in life, this one did not have a simple answer.

Metal composition dictates the weight and the formulas have changed over time. It takes 145 pennies minted between 1909 and 1942 to make up a pound. Because the coins were made with steel, not copper, and coated with zinc, 1943 is an odd year, with 168 pennies per pound. Modern pennies, dated 1982 and onward, generally weigh 1/181 of a pound. Put another way, 181 modern pennies weigh a pound(ish). This does not, of course, account for decades of accumulated grime.

Share, don't stash.

I wanted to know because last year our local Nashville genius of thrift, Mary Hance, who is also known to readers of The Tennessean as “Ms. Cheap,” started a penny drive to collect money for the regional Second Harvest Food Bank. I did not get it together to get a stash to one of the collection sites but the effort raised more than $14,000 for the non-profit without us. Second Harvest estimates each dollar means four solid meals, so Ms. Cheap’s 2009 holiday penny drive translated into about 56,000 meals.

We’ve been stashing our pennies for nearly a year now and when Ms. Cheap announced the 2010 drive was on, we had two deceptively heavy cookie tins ready. Kudos go out to Avenue Bank, a very cool institution (usually I despise banks), for partnering with the project and not only accepting pennies but also putting them through counting machines. Our 13 pounds of pennies came to $23 and change. Avenue Bank gave me a receipt and my tins back. Before 2010 closes, I’ll return with another batch.

This is a Middle Tennessee effort but is easily replicated anywhere, for any good cause. Penny power adds up.

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