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Cents (Pennies)

Cents (Pennies)

Known most commonly as the Penny the U.S. Cent was originally designed to replace the familiar English copper Penny but was given the denomination of Cent so as to reflect a specifically non-British and non-Colonial sensibility, signaling the United States' entry into nationhood as an independent Republic on the world stage. Benjamin Franklin is credited with the push to adopt a more internationalist and less colloquially British arrangement of denominations, in part modeled after the most common currency of trade (The Spanish 8 Reales piece known as a Pillar for the Pillars of Hercules depicted upon it - and from whence our capitol denomination, the Dollar, steals its name). The Cent, from the Latin for 1/100, and the dime, taken from the archaic French denomination of the Disme (1/10 unit) both reflect a distinctly non-British move toward decimalization of the early U.S. coinage. Decimalization, of course, occurred only in these lesser denominations. The original One Cent Piece was struck from a large planchet of 100% copper. Over time both the copper content and the size of the Cent diminished, the most notable change in size and composition occurring in 1856 with the introduction of Longacre's 19mm copper-nickel Flying Eagle Cent. As a result of the introduction of this coin all prior cents are referred to Large Cents and those from 1856 onwards are known as Small Cents.

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