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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 11, March 12, 2006, Article 23

THE GREAT 1982 CENT WEIGHT PROBLEM

IndyStar.com today published an amusing article by a woman whose
husband became infatuated with the problem of distinguishing the
two types of 1982 U.S. cents:

"When I came home Saturday afternoon, the kitchen table was
covered with stacks and stacks of pennies perfectly aligned in
long, neat rows. The husband was pacing back and forth in front
of them with his hands behind his back and his glasses perched
low on his nose. It looked like Cornwallis inspecting a regiment
of British Redcoats -- or in this case Copper Coats -- before the
Battle of Long Island."

"He was so busy surveying the columns that he didn't notice me.
I clicked my heels, gave a snappy salute and said, "Problem
with the rear guard, sir?"

"No," he said without looking up. "The problem is with 1982."
I racked my brain. "War on the Falklands?" I asked.

"Copper and zinc," he said.

He then turned toward me, balancing a penny on the tips of
both index fingers as though I should know what this meant.

"A penny for my thoughts, one for each half of my brain?"
"No. Which one is zinc?"

As I would soon learn, before 1982, pennies were 95 percent
copper and 5 percent zinc. During 1982, mints switched the
composition around and the penny became 97.6 percent zinc and
2.4 percent copper, so a 1982 penny can be either mostly
copper or mostly zinc. And if you're confused, imagine how
Abe Lincoln must feel.

"The copper penny weighs almost half a gram more, and I'm
trying to tell which 1982s are which. Here; see if you can
tell which one is heavier."

"Though I failed to detect the weight difference, he was
pleased I had tried, just as I was pleased sorting pennies
into piles of zinc and copper could bring a man an entire
afternoon of entertainment."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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