A penny (pl. pence or pennies) is a
coinor a unit of currencyused in several English-speaking countries.
In the 8th century,
Charlemagnedeclared that 240 pennies or pfennigs should be minted from a pound of silver. A Carolingian pound was approximately 326 grams, so a single coin thus contained about 1.36 grams of silver. (Today, this amount of silver would cost about 40p sterling.)
The penny is among the lowest denomination of coins in circulation.
* 1/100 of the British
pound sterling("see British one penny coin"), the former Irish pound, the Gibraltar pound, the Falkland Islands pound, or a coinwith that value: see history of the English penny.
* 1/240 of the British pound sterling or Irish pound prior to
February 15, 1971, of the Pound Scotsprior to 1707, and also the pre- decimalisationcurrencies of Australia, New Zealandand South Africa(1/12 of the shilling), or a coin of that value.
* The preferred name for the one-cent coin in the
United Statesand in Canada, worth 1/100 of the dollar: see penny (U.S. coin), penny (Canadian coin).
In addition, variants of the word "penny", with which they share a common root, are or were the names of certain units of currency in non-English-speaking countries:
feningis 1/100 of a Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark
pfennigwas 1/100 of a German mark
penniwas 1/100 of a Finnish markka
United Statesand Canada, "penny" is normally used to refer to the coin; the quantity of money is a "cent." Elsewhere in the English-speaking world, the plural of "penny" is "pence" when referring to a quantity of money and "pennies" when referring to a number of coins [cite web|title="Penny - Oxford English Dictionary"|publisher=oed.com|url=http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/penny?view=uk] . Thus a coin worth five times as much as one penny is worth five pence, but "five pennies" means five coins, each of which is a penny.
When dealing with British or Irish (pound) money, amounts of the decimal "new pence" less than £1 may be suffixed with "p", as in 2p, 5p, 26p, 72p. Pre-1971 amounts of less than 1/- (one shilling) were denoted with a "d" which derived from the term "
denarius", as in 2d, 6d, 10d. The lettering "new penny" or "new pence" was changed to "one penny", "two pence" or "five pence", etc. on British decimal coinage in 1982. Irish pound decimal coinage only used "p" to designate units (possibly as this sufficed for both the English word "pence", and Irish form "pingin").
The British penny as a unit of currency dates back well over a thousand years, and for most of that period the silver penny was the principal denomination in circulation.
Coin image box 2 singles
caption_left = Draped bust of Aethelred left. +ÆĐELRED REX ANGLOR
caption_right = Long cross. +EADǷOLD MO CÆNT
width_left = 150
width_right = 150
position = left
Anglo-Saxonsilver 'Long Cross' penny of Aethelred II, moneyer Eadwold, Canterbury, "c." 997-1003. The cross made cutting the coin into half-pennies or farthings (quarter-pennies) easier. (Note spelling "Eadƿold" in inscription, using Anglo-Saxon letter wynnin place of modern " w.")
To "spend a penny" in British
idiommeans to urinate. The etymology of the phrase is literal; some public toilets used to be coin-operated, with a pre-decimal penny being the charge levied. Eventually, at around the same time as the introduction of decimal coinage, British Railgradually introduced better public toilets with the name "Superloo" and the much higher charge of 6d. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/nationonfilm/topics/railways/ BBC Nation on Film - Rise and Fall of LNER] Mod Cons - Engines Must Not Enter the Potato Siding: "Spend a 6d in the superloo"]
Finding a penny is sometimes considered lucky and gives rise to the saying, "Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day: you'll have good luck." This may be a corruption of "See a pin and pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck" and similar verses, as quoted in The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore and other sources.
In the US, the length of a nail is designated by its "penny size". This unit's abbreviation is "d" (e.g. 10d for 10 penny nails), as for British pence before decimalization. A smaller number indicates a shorter nail and a larger number indicates a longer nail. Nails under 1¼ in., often called brads, are sold mostly in small packages with only a length designation (e.g. ½" (12 mm), 1⅛" (28 mm), etc.).
It is commonly believed that the origin of the term "penny" in relation to nail size is based on the old custom in England of selling nails by the hundred. A hundred nails that sold for six pence were "six penny" nails. The larger the nail, the more a hundred nails would cost, hence the larger nails have a larger number for their "penny size". This classification system was still used in England in the 18th century, but is obsolete there now.
The physical handling and counting of pennies creates
transaction coststhat may be higher than a penny for every penny spent. Furthermore, as has been claimed for micropayments, due to mental transaction costs one penny may exceed the useful price granularity of almost all products and services sold over the counter—granularities of five or ten pence may be sufficient. [ [http://www.mytelus.com/ncp_news/article.en.do?pn=canada&articleID=2897480 Error ] ] Also, inflation periodically causes the metal value of pennies to exceed their face value, making them wasteful to mint. [New York Times, " [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9905EEDA1039F932A35757C0A967948260 AROUND THE NATION; Treasurer Says Zinc Penny May Save $50 Million a Year] ", April 1, 1981] [USA Today, Barbara Hagenbaugh, " [http://www.usatoday.com/money/2006-05-09-penny-usat_x.htm Coins cost more to make than face value] ", May 10, 2006] Several nations have stopped minting equivalent value coins, and efforts have been made to end the routine use of pennies in several countries, including Canadaand the United States. [cite web | last = Lewis | first = Mark | title = Ban The Penny | publisher = Forbes.com | date = 2002-07-05 | url = http://www.forbes.com/2002/07/05/0705penny.html | accessdate = 2007-07-16 ] However, the retail community supports the penny because of the advertising tactic of using 99 pence/cents to make something appear to have a lower price than it actually does.Fact|date=September 2008
* Penny (Australian coin)
* Penny (British coin)
British one penny coin (pre-decimal)
Penny (Canadian coin)
Irish penny coin
Irish penny (decimal coin)
* Penny (United States coin)
United States coinage
History of the Lincoln cent
1943 steel cent
1955 doubled die cent
1974 aluminum cent
Take a penny, leave a penny
Legal Tender Modernization Act
Efforts to eliminate the penny in the United States
* Smashed penny
* [http://www.kokogiak.com/megapenny/default.asp The MegaPenny Project] - A visualisation of what exponential numbers of pennies would look like.
* [http://www.ukcoinpics.co.uk/pen1.html Silver Pennies] - Pictures of English silver pennies from Anglo-Saxon times to the present.
* [http://www.ukcoinpics.co.uk/pen2.html Copper Pennies] - Pictures of English copper pennies from 1797 to 1860.
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