1927 Big Year for Cent|
May 06, 2008
In the year Charles Lindbergh made his historic solo flight across the Atlantic, the cent was flying high, too. The Philadelphia Mint churned out more than 144 million cents in 1927 as it tried to keep up with the demand.
The Denver Mint chipped in more than 27 million, and the San Francisco Mint added another 14 million. Even so, it took a lot of older cents - both Lincoln Head and Indian Head types - to fill the gap between supply and demand.
For one thing, it was the heyday of the penny arcade, like the popular one under Times Square in New York. Pinball machines and other games ate up large quantities of cents.
So did newspapers. Back then most were priced at only a "penny." In New York City alone, 75 tons of cents were spent on daily newspapers in 1927. Most of those cents probably originated at the Philadelphia Mint, with a much smaller percentage somehow finding their way from the Denver Mint. San Francisco cents seldom turned up in the East.
Gum ball machines and "penny-in-the-slot" weighing machines were also extremely popular in 1927. That circulated 1927 Lincoln cent in your collection probably passed through dozens, maybe hundreds, of vending machines as the Roaring '20s neared an end and the Great Depression approached.
Cent mintages would fall drastically from 1930-1933 as a result of the economy's crash, but in 1927 the picture looked as bright as ever.
In January 1928, newspapers reported that 3.5 billion "pennies" had been dropped in vending machines in 1927. No wonder the New York Federal Reserve Bank handled eight tons of cents a day.
Even crooks seemed to like the lowly cent. One of the strangest stories of 1927 involved the robbery of a Coney Island arcade. Three men stole 270 pounds of "pennies." They were caught, and it took five policemen nearly two hours to count the coins. There were more than 18,000 in all.
Near Ironwood, Mich., thieves broke into two stores and took only cents from the cash registers.
And then there was the New York man who was ordered to pay $8 a week in alimony. He delivered it to his ex-wife in cents.
Sometimes cents used the wrong way could be fatal. In Charleston, N.C., fire inspectors went "penny-hunting" and arrested two persons for placing cents behind burned-out fuse plugs, in violation of an ordinance to prevent fires.
The problem was much greater in Los Angeles. Hundreds of fires there were caused by people who put "pennies" in fuse boxes. If they were new Lincoln cents from the San Francisco Mint, they could have turned out to be worth a lot of money. Today a Mint State-65 1927-S cent is valued at $6,500.
On the other hand, circulated 1927 cents are inexpensive. Coin Prices lists a 1927 cent at less than $5 in About Uncirculated-50. In Very Fine-20, the 1927-D is listed at less than $4, and the 1927-S at less than $5.
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