We found some change in the car recently and some of the coins had weird buildup on them, so I did a little “money laundering” with a wire brush.
This is the result. Pretty disgraceful. That’s Abe Lincoln’s face, dude, and it’s half gone.
Even the lowly penny used to have a little weight to it and engraving that looked good, befitting a unit of currency.
Pennies have always been at least 95% copper (excluding a short window from 1856-1864 when they were 88% copper) since 1793 when originally issued.
Until 1982, when they were changed to 97.5% zinc with copper plating and reduced in overall weight from 3.11g to 2.5g.
Nothing like this would ever — could ever — happen to pennies when they were 95% copper. They might tarnish and get dirty over time, but a little copper cleaner would make them bright and shiny like new, most of the time.
Like this. Notice the difference with the engraving quality, in particular. Real money looks like this, not like that embarrassment above.