Hoarders Keep U.S. Mint Busy

There’s no “penny candy” anymore. The term penny arcade is a misnomer. Gum-ball machines that decades ago took pennies have long since graduated to nickels, then quarters.

So, what’s a penny good for these days? By itself, a one-cent piece surely isn’t worth much - they actually cost about 1.7 cents each to manufacture, according to the U.S. Mint. Some economists and lawmakers believe we’d be better off without the penny or that pennies should be made of cheaper metal than zinc and copper.

But a whole bunch of pennies, now that’s a different story.

Toledoan Ted Grandowicz has an estimated 400,000 of them, weighing 2,700 pounds or so, encased in a bank made of stainless steel and bullet-proof glass. The longtime tavern owner said the collection represents a future contribution toward the college education of two grandchildren, now 15 and 13.

He is one of many people who hoard coins for a variety of reasons, and perhaps they’re part of the reason the Mint has to keep producing coins. The Mint makes about 8 billion pennies a year and there are an estimated 140 billion pennies in circulation.

It’s not just pennies, either. Folks hoard coins of all sorts.

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