One Hundred Years Old

By Pastor Mark Hopper

Recently I was at the local hardware store picking up some metal brackets for a project we were doing at our church.

A group of men were constructing a new back drop for the stage in our Worship Center and they needed more brackets to finish the job.

Since I am not the handiest guy in the group and since they had plenty of help, they sent me to the hardware store.

As I was waiting to pay for my materials, I noticed a small box by the cash register that had some pennies in it.  The sign on the small box said something like, “Need a penny & leave a penny”.

I have seen these in other stores.  Customers are allowed to take a penny or two to complete their purchase and avoid getting a pocket full of change.

And, people who end up with a couple of pennies after their purchase are encouraged to leave the pennies for another customer who might need some.

I noticed that one of the pennies looked a little different than the others.  Sure enough, it was a “Wheat Penny”.

I am not an avid coin collector, but I know that the US Penny has changed over the years.  The penny has an image of Lincoln on one side, but the back side has changed over the years.

In the early 1900’s, the penny had Lincoln on the front and two grains of “Wheat” on the back.  In the 1950’s, the US Mint changed the back of the penny to the image of the Lincoln Memorial.

In the early 2000’s, the Mint changed the penny again with the image of Lincoln still on the front, but an image of a “Shield” with the words “one cent” on the back.

I asked the attendant if I could swap a penny for the one in the box.  Yes, she was glad to let me do that.  She was curious why I wanted the penny.  I briefly explained my interest in “Wheat Pennies”.

When I got home later that day, I looked for the date on the penny.  To my surprise, it read 1914!  That penny was over 100 years old!  Amazing!

I don’t think the penny has any significant collector value.  Millions of them were made in 1914.  But, it is remarkable that something over 100 years old is still circulating around in our pockets, purses, banks and stores.

I wonder where this penny has been and who it has belonged to over the past century.  It probably has many stories to tell!

Pastor Mark Hopper is from the Evangelical Free Church of Diamond Bar, 3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd.  Sunday services are 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.  For more information, call (909) 594-7604 or visit

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