A penny prosperity charm, UK version

This is taken pretty much wholesale from Melissa Zupan’s post of the same name, but with the coin information given for GBP rather than USD. As Melissa says in her post:

According to the entry on copper in Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopeida of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic, copper can be used to draw money to a person.

To this end, he notes that United States copper pennies–especially those minted in leap years–have “long been place in the kitchen to attract money to the household.”

I think that’s a rather lovely idea.  The kitchen is basically the modern day hearth–the place of home and of domestic prosperity–so it makes sense to focus some prosperity work here, and really, how much space or effort would it take to maintain a jar of copper leap year pennies in the kitchen?

I’ve maintained a penny jar in my kitchen since I moved into my flat, although the jar is actually a transparent green glass teacup that belonged to my Dad when he was at university, because that was fashionable in the ’70s. He gave me the teacups and associated saucers when I moved out, as it gave the parents an excuse to go through their kitchen and offload any utensils etc. that they no longer wanted. Unfortunately, many deacdes ago, Dad had broken one of the saucers so I had a loose teacup floating around, but as green is the colour most often used for prosperity and money workings I knew I could use it for my leap-year penny collection.

Americans are quite lucky in their leap-year copper-penny options, as the cent coin has been around for over two centuries, with a pure or high copper content up to 1982. This gives them eleven possible years to work with, following the assumption that coins minted before around 1940 are unlikely to still be in general circulation. Unfortunately for the British, we have just under half that number of copper-rich leap years. For a start, our currency was decimalised in 1971 – so unless you get an old coin that happens to be copper and happens to be from a leap year that someone else managed to pass off as a current one (so far I ‘ve received a 1931 George V farthing and a 2004 US Michigan quarter-dollar from self-service supermarket checkouts), 1972 is the earliest leap year you can collect. And since 1992 our pennies have been copper-plated steel rather than the 97% copper, 2.5% zinc, 0.5% tin bronze mix that was used previously. Those two end dates give us five leap years’ worth of coins – 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, and 1988.

Now I’m lazy, and rather than check my list of appropriate dates on my phone every time I have a few coppers in my spare change, whenever I periodically empty out my purse I dump all the pennies into a random jar pile on top of my chest of drawers, and sort through them every six months or so. The writing around the edge of UK pennies is pretty tiny, but thankfully changes in the obverse and reverse designs over the years have made it so you only need to squint at a few of them. The reverse design changed in 2008, so all pennies with the Royal Shield segment on the back rather than the portcullis can be immediately discounted. There have been four obverse portraits of the Queen since decimalisation, and luckly for us when it comes to weeding out our copper-poor pennies, there was a significant visual portrait change in 1998. The portrait of Elizabeth II that was in use from 1998 to 2015 is couped, or neck-length, like its predecessor, but cut off slightly higher up. The portrait as a whole is also bigger, taking up more space on the coin as the artist wished to ‘maximise its impact on smaller coins like the new 5p, 10p and 50p pieces’, according to the Royal Mint website. So when sorting coins any with a rounder-looking portrait can also be discarded.

These two ‘big-picture’ changes will take a lot less time to sort than looking at the dates on every coin, and will leave you with a much smaller pile to work with. The next thing I do is pull out all the coins minted in the ’90s, as the latest bronze-penny leap year is ’88. While this still involves a bit of squinting, I do this because it narrows the pile down even further, and the fewer coins I need to go through while repeating ’72, 76, 80, 84, 88′ in my head the better. I also throw out any 1971 pennies as well as I go along, because there are still tons of them in circulation and it’s just one year short of what we want.

Unfortunately what with scrapping shillings and the rising price of copper, UK residents get a tiny amount of viable prosperity-drawing pennies – I’ve managed to find 23 since 2012, but that’s adding in the massive stash of coppers that I’d never dealt with and which had been sitting in an old coffee jar which I had periodically added to for many years while I was living with my parents. (I have no idea why I started doing that by the way)  Since moving here, I’ve found maybe six or so from actual small change, I think? Which is a terrible average of slightly more than one every year, but with the way the economy’s been since 2008, even a little bit of help in bringing extra money into the home is worth it.

This usually sits behind the purple knife block, just to the right of the Kitchen Things.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s