When did we start paying, "A penny for your thoughts."

 Fun Stuff  Comments Off on When did we start paying, "A penny for your thoughts."
Jun 162006

A penny per thought hardly seems worth it these days. However in the 1500s and earlier, it may have been a fair trade.The phrase was mentioned in 1522 by Sir Thomas More in his work “Four Last Things.” Playwright John Heywood included “a penny for your thoughts” in his catalog of proverbs published in 1546 or 1562. These are the earliest recorded uses, but the saying probably dates further back, as the penny itself has a long history.

Britain first made silver pennies around 757 A.D., and by the reign of King Edward III (1327 to 1377), the penny was the most important coin in circulation. At the time, it was worth about one-twelfth of a shilling.

The modern value is hard to pinpoint. The Straight Dope calculates a 16th-century penny would be worth $42.67 in 2001.

However, a resource for actors and writers suggests two pennies would buy a beer in the 16th century, and a French Renaissance reenactment site lists the purchasing power of a penny as equal to one loaf of bread. So a penny of More and Heywood’s era could be worth $2 to $4 in these modern times. Not a bad conversion rate, eh?

Will the Penny Ever Go Away

 Business, Culture  Comments Off on Will the Penny Ever Go Away
May 062006
This entry is part of 3 in the series Deep Questions

People have been calling for the penny’s eradication for years. Many Americans feel exact change isn’t worth the bother. Here’s the government’s two cents…According to the United States Mint, there are no plans to cease production of the one-cent coin. Pennies are the most widely used denomination, and they “remain profitable to make.” The Mint’s FAQ explains a penny costs about .93 cents to make, so each penny produced earns the government .07 cents. However, this recent article claims it now costs 1.4 cents to produce each penny, thanks to the rising prices of metals. Yikes, that’s no way to run a mint, guys.

This revelation isn’t likely to boost the copper coin’s popularity, but it would take congressional legislation signed by the president to actually eliminate the penny. So, if you feel strongly about the evils of pennies, write your representative. You never know — if enough weighed-down consumers and ornery bloggers complain, the penny could be history.