National Lucky Penny Day

May 14, 2024

May 23 is National Lucky Penny Day. It has always been thought that pennies have brought people luck.

Have you ever made a wish in front of a well or fountain and then closed your eyes and tossed a penny in?

Remember as kids we were told, “Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.”? In researching why the penny is seen as a good luck charm, I came across various theories, the most common one being that the luck of the penny can be traced back to folklore from ancient civilizations. It was thought that metals -like copper- were gifts from gods given to people to protect them from evil. (This theory is also why things like metal charm bracelets and horseshoes are thought to bring good luck). Many believe that if you find a penny with its heads up, it is a sign of good luck, but if you see a penny face down, it is a sign of bad luck and that you should flip it over for someone else to find it.

The Grandpa Shorters Penny Press
Be sure to stop by and use our Penny Press at Grandpa Shorters!

You have probably heard the expression “pennies from heaven” before. There was a song and movie with the same name that came out in 1936. Pennies from heaven, according to means unexpected good fortune or a windfall.

Taking the expression literally, it would take a lot of pennies from heaven in 2024 to amount to anything, and wouldn’t it hurt when those pennies hit you on the head? The expression “pennies from heaven” is also used to refer to signs or messages that we receive from our loved ones who have passed away. The phrase does not have to refer to actual pennies, but in some cases it can and does.

My mom used to like to stop and pick up pennies wherever she would go. I remember one time crossing Mitchell Street in downtown Petoskey when I was thirteen or fourteen years old, and my mom stopped in the middle of the crosswalk because she spotted a shiny coin in her path. I also remember being embarrassed when she leaned over and picked it up as I was sure the drivers in the cars were judging her and me. (It is funny to think about the things that used to bother us as teenagers that seem so dumb now).

After my mom passed away unexpectedly in 2022, I started finding pennies everywhere I would go. I still do. I see them in the streets, on the sidewalk, on the beach, in the grass- everywhere. They seem to appear when I need them the most. On the days when I am especially lonely or sad, I will practically trip over pennies that appear in my path. I like to think that is a sign that my mom is watching over me.

Jennifer Shorter and her daughter at the Grandpa Shorters Penny Press

Here are a couple of ways to celebrate National Lucky Penny Day:

  1. Look for pennies on the ground on your own, or make it a competition. See who can find the most pennies. If you have kids and want to make this a treasure hunt, you can plant them around your house or in your yard.
  2. Go to a penny press. There are at least 137 throughout the state of Michigan, and there are over 3,000 in the United States. Here is a link to see where they are all located in Michigan as well as the press’s designs. There is only one penny press machine in the city of Petoskey, and it is
    located right here at Grandpa Shorter’s Gifts.
    At this machine there are 4 different images you can choose from to be pressed into your penny.

I will leave you with three interesting facts about pennies.

  1. It is estimated that there are more than 115 billion pennies in circulation today.
  2. The penny has been in circulation since 1793 which makes it the oldest U.S. coin still in
  3. The most valuable penny is the 1944 steel wheat penny which is valued at $408,000.