Did you see the article today about how the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the penny will be replaced in 2009 with several new designs to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth? Very cool, at least to me. I collected pennies when I was a child, and kept them in a little display book. For a while I had a 1909 VDB that my parents brought me from a Memphis coin shop, but I took it out to look at it so many times that I finally lost it. (It was worth about $5.00 in those days.) I think I still have a 1943 penny, made of steel.
Anyway, the lovely "wheat ears" penny above, 1909-1958, was replaced by the (boring) Lincoln Memorial in 1959. As time marches on, there are fewer and fewer of these in circulation. A few weeks ago I picked up my change in the grocery store, and--lo and behold! In my delight, I showed the cashier: "Look! A wheat ears penny!" She gazed at it, and then at me, with a look of uncomprehending disdain (a look I've received quite often over the years). I didn't care. That little prize made my day.
So what good is a penny these days? Not much, and perhaps they should be discontinued. But in the meantime, I'll enjoy finding these commemorative editions. (You can laugh--it's OK. I know I'm a nerd.)