How many pennies in this jar?

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24 September 2006

How many pennies in this jar? (Click the image to see a bigger version.)

penny jar

I started this penny collection sometime around 1994, because I don’t like pennies. Really – that’s the reason. My goal is to collect all the pennies there are, so that there aren’t any left in circulation, so I don’t have to deal with them any more.

Really :)

I won’t spend money to add pennies to my collection, but I also won’t spend any pennies I get. They all go into the jar.

Beyond my goal of collecting them, I’m also not allowed to give them away. Back when I started the collection a good friend gave me some pennies and told me that I could only have them if I swore to keep them for the rest of my life. I was allowed to will them to my grandkids when I died, but that was it.

I agreed, and immediately mixed his pennies with the rest of the collection. That way, I never know which pennies were his and which weren’t, so I can never risk giving any of them away. My friend wasn’t the sort of person I’d break my word to.

The collection continues to grow, and it’s been more than 10 years now. I’ve had to upgrade containers a few times (from a little glass jar, to a gallon jug, to two gallon jugs, to a small Pyrex container, to the current large Pyrex container), but I’ve never really known how many pennies I had.

I recified that a few days ago, after I happened across an old scale at a yard sale. I bought the scale and used it to weigh the full jar, and the empty jar, so I could subtract to get the weight of the pennies.

As proof, here’s the setup:

penny weighing setup

The result?

Pennies + jar: 111.5 pounds
Jar: 12.5 pounds
Pennies (by subtraction): 99 pounds

According to the United States Mint, I have no prayer of knowing the average weight of the pennies in my jar. If, however, I’m willing to live with a very imprecise answer, I can assume that the pennies in my jar are all relatively new and untarnished, in which case the Mint then informs me that a penny weighs 2.500 grams.

Given that, google tells me that I have:

Pennies (grams): 44,905 grams
Pennies (count): 17,962 pennies
Pennies (value): $179.62

Rounding that off, I probably have about $180 worth of pennies. Apparently this endeavor isn’t going to make my grandkids rich :)

Did you guess right? I did – I had guessed that I had $150 – $200 of pennies in the jar.

  1. Marilyn says:

    Interesting what things we will invest with our time. :) If that is the accumulated weight in 10 years, by the time you have grandchildren old enough to be interested in (willing?) to take your pennies, let’s say roughly 50 years, there should be 500 pounds of pennies. You’re going to store these where? :)

  2. Robin says:

    Hi, Nathan. I’m your dad’s soon-to-be sister-in-law. I have a sick hobby – counting and wrapping change. It would have killed me to have that jar all those years and not know how much was in it.

    I agree with you about pennies, though. When I heard recently that it cost 1.4 cents to manufacture each penny, I realized how ridiculous it is that our government still mints them.

    Since you don’t have a prayer of collecting all the pennies in circulation, however, I think you should consider donating them to your favorite charity. I’ll tell you a story about that if I see you on the 14th.


  3. Matt says:

    Whether you count in multiples of 5 (nickels) or multiples of 1 (pennies), math doesn’t change :-)

    Just pay with plastic (debit, not credit).

  4. April says:

    Eh. It really doesn’t matter how many pennies you have, you’re never going to cash them out. Even for your kids. You’ll be thinking, I might as well just keep collecting and give it to them for their 18th birthday or something and then you’ll always just keep collecting…

  5. Beth says:

    I have to hand it to you. This post won me a nice container of hand soap. I couldn’t believe that there were really that many pennies. It just doesn’t look like that many pennies. But shortly after the post, I went to a baby shower and had to play one of those “guess how many candies are in the baby bottles” games. I thought of your pennies and way over-guessed the amount that I really thought was in there. I was only 3 or 4 candies off the exact amount and I won the game! You know how competitive I get about baby shower games. :-) (See. You can’t begrudge your wife and I getting a night out occasionally. Otherwise I am reduced to this being my big excitement for the week. Enough so that I post on your blog about it. Sad!)

  6. Matt says:

    I know this thread is old, but this article is just too perfect not to post here me!

  7. Nathan Arthur says:

    That site is awesome, and gives me my new lifetime goal: to have a cubic foot of pennies.


  8. Danny boy says:

    Can you tell me how much a quart of pennies is worth?

  9. nunya says:

    uhhhh……… in penny girl =)

  10. jeffrey byer says:

    i saw your site and it is totally erroneous.
    we have no american pennies they are one cent coins.

  11. Annie says:

    You should donate them to the Pennies for Peace program. It was started by Greg Mertenson. You should read Three Cups of Tea. Very inspiring book. I think your friend wouldn’t mind if you donated them to a good cause. Building schools for children in societies that do not have the funding is an extremely worthy cause.

  12. Kim says:

    Hey, My husband and I have been collecting pennies for 18 years. we have less I think than you but my issue is the kids cracked my beloved jar. I cannot find another like it. Yours is nice where did you get it?

  13. Nathan Arthur says:

    You know, I have no idea. Probably a garage sale. I’ve had it for 10 years or so, and I’m sure I didn’t go out specifically to buy it; we just happened across it somewhere, and decided it was perfect for the penny collection.

  14. no says:

    that’s a lot of penny’s but I got more I have more than a thousand I started in 2012

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