The blog post doesn't cite sources, but it tells a fun story. Here's an item posted Friday at NumismaticHub.com, a blog for young numismatists.
A joke by a fish dealer seems to have been the cause of a craze for pennies in 1902. The common belief by many was that when the 1902 pennies were being coined at the mint, a careless employee accidentally dropped a bar of gold into the smelter, and “as a result the alloy of the penny is partly of gold.”
The rumor was said to have been started by Alvah W. Haff, a fish dealer of the Fulton fish market. Being a fish dealer, Mr. Haff had to always be ready to give change and when the Amityville bank accumulated too much small change, it notified Mr, Haff, who would take the change off of the bank’s hands.
On January 29, 1903, Mr. Haff bought 3,000 copper pennies from the bank. Someone who witnessed the transaction commented on the strange occurrence, and Mr. Haff jokingly explained that he was going to take the coins and get the gold out of them.
The story spread like wild fire and people began hoarding 1902 pennies. A public school principal went as far as to have chemistry students test the coins for the presence of gold and results of the test dispelled the dreams of many Amityville residents hoping to strike it rich!
To read the complete article, see:
Hoard Pennies for Gold- Feb 9, 1903
Wayne Homren, Editor
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