Designer: Victor David Brenner
Diameter: 19 millimeters
Copper - 95%
Tin and Zinc - 5%
Weight: 48 grains (3.11 grams)
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children
Hidden, excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go said the bird; human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
T S Eliot- Four Quartets: "Burnt Norton" (1935)
Last night I asked my Dad about the time he bought a penny for a hundred dollars. He went to the bank and asked to borrow $100.00 (in the 1960's you could actually do such a thing). The banker behind the desk was a doodler- scribbling and drawing on a pad while talking to customers. Without looking up, he asked, "What do you want it for?" "I want to buy a penny" said my Dad. The banker stopped doodling and looked up. "Carter, your crazy." And with that my Dad borrowed $100.00 and bought a 1¢ piece- a 1909-S VDB. I still remember the first time he showed it to me. I asked why it cost so much. "It's rare" he said. "The mint only made 484,000." That sounded like a lot to me. Years later he sold it, for $100.00. In his words, "I had three kids who needed groceries." At the time, that amount was equivalent to a monthly mortgage payment.
The 1909 VDB penny was revolutionary- it was the first time in US history an actual person's image (Abraham Lincoln) was placed on a coin for circulation. In February, 2001, a 1909-S VDB penny, Grade MS-66, sold at auction for $5,750.00. It is a curious thing to me, the way we humans assign value to things, from the price of a penny to a loaf of bread. My prayer list grows daily with the names of friends and family, every name representing a soul with needs. A few of the names have dire financial needs and, at the moment, their value as human beings appears depreciated- perhaps, in their minds, worth less than certain pennies. Visible reality has a way of overshadowing the Reality Christ carries. "What a fathomless wealth lies in the wisdom & knowledge of God! How inscrutable His judgements! How mysterious His methods!" Romans 11:33.
To those of you on my list, from Germantown, TN to Mobile, Alabama... to those sinking under the weight of a present reality you are unable to bear, you are much loved.
"This I know; God is on my side! I praise God for what He has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what He has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?"