Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ABC Wednesday -- Z

It's ABC Wednesday again, and this week, the letter is

I want to take a minute and thank Denise, and the rest of the ABC Wednesday Team, Barb, Jay, Gattina, Sylvia, and Roger for the fun times we have had this round.

And thanks to everyone who played along.

I am looking forward to round seven. Get your dictionaries sharpened up. It promises to be an adventure.

Being raised Mormon, the first word that came to mind when I thought of Z was ZARAHEMLA. ZARAHEMLA is the name of a prominent land, a capital city, and a leader in the Book of Mormon.

According to the Book of Mormon the people of ZARAHEMLA came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” (about 587 B.C.) It goes on to say that they “journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters” to the Western Hemisphere.

The Book of Mormon, for those who don't know, is not, in fact a Mormon Bible, as many believe, but is believed to be a history of a civilization of people who existed on the American Continent during a roughly parallel time period as the Bible.

It is named after a man, Mormon, who took all of the different histories of all of the people, and compiled them into one book, for future generations to read.

But I thought maybe ZARAHEMLA would be a little obscure a reference for many, and quite frankly, I didn't know how to take pictures of a land and civilization that has been extinct for almost 2000 years.

My next thought about Z was ZERO. I thought I could just post absolutely nothing, and the more insightful among my readers would comprehend, or discern, by some secret means, that I had posted ZERO for Z. But I realized that few would catch it, most would just assume I was catching some ZZZZ's instead.

And to post that I was posting ZERO, would in fact be a post, so it wouldnt be ZERO at all. It felt very ZEN...

As a Utah native, ZION National Park would have been a great post, but I haven't seen it since I was five years old, and don't have any pictures to show.

So, I turned to the internet once again, for some Z ideas.

I saw the word ZINC. I immediately thought: "ZINC! That makes sense." Then I congratulated myself on my clever pun.

The US Penny, or one cent piece was pure copper from 1793 to 1837.
From 1837 to 1857, the cent was made of bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and ZINC).
From 1857, the cent was 88% copper and 12% nickel.
The cent was again bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and ZINC) from 1864 to 1962. (Except for some ZINC plated steel pennies made in 1943, when copper was being used to make munitions for the war.)
In 1962, the cent's tin content, which was quite small, was removed. That made the metal composition of the cent 95% copper and 5% ZINC.
The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent ZINC until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper (copper-plated ZINC).

So US pennies made today are largely made of ZINC.

An experience collector can readily identify the difference at a glance, while even a novice can spot the differences if looking for them.

In this picture, you can see the distinct difference just by the way they reflect the flash of the camera.

Here, this one should make it even easier to tell which are which...

Why is this relevant? You may ask, they are, after all, just pennies, and a penny is a penny, right?

Maybe to most people, but to people like myself, who collect smashed pennies, or as they are more officially known, elongated pennies, nothing beats a copper penny. If you use a ZINC penny, the elongation process will reveal the ZINC below the copper and many collectors find the appearance of zinc in the design detracting from the design of the die itself. Because of the differences in the metals, ZINC pennies will be a slightly different size and shape from copper pennies as well.

I have quite a few of these, most of them from places I have actually visited myself, and a few that friends have brought me from their travels.

And although there are those who say that a ZINC EC (Elongated Coin) is not as valuable, I have to say that this penny, that I got in July of 2001, is one that I will never part with, even though it is made from a ZINC penny.

I bet there is a machine location near you! Alas, for my Canadian friends, at last report, smashing pennies was illegal in Canada, so you would have to use US pennies. On a lighter note, I have smashed some Canadian pennies, and they work just fine, providing you use a pre-1997 penny. That was when Canadian pennies started to be made out of ZINC.

ZINC you all for reading, ZEE you next time!

Please take some time to check out what others were INSPIRED to blog about this week, at

ABC Wednesday,

and feel free to add your own blog to the list as we work our way through the alphabet.Be sure and join me each Tuesday for Tuesday Trivia Tie-in, where readers are invited to share trivia and show off their treasures.
Read all about it here


  1. Wow. You have me curious enough to sift through my coin purse and pull out my pennies to see if I can notice the difference. Great post!

  2. Terrific post for the Z day, Troy! Really interesting information! I just want to say thank you for being a member of the team, it's been such fun and I, too, am looking forward to the next round. Hope you're having a great week!


  3. No wooden nickles here! A delightful post - thanks for the info!

  4. Great information and fun stuff about the pennies. I have a huge collection of elongated pennies from Disneyland over the years. Its a pretty inexpensive hobby and souvenier.

  5. An excellent informative post. Enjoyed it.

  6. It has got me thinking too - what about UK pennies Troy do you have any and what are they made from?
    Thanks for another intriguing post - ABC is just so fascinating! Thanks for being part of the team - see you in Round 7!

    ABC Team

  7. Talk about stretching your money!

    I tried to read my copy of The Book of Mormon, but I found it a little arid. Try, try again, I guess.

    Been good working w U!

    ROG, ABC Wednesday teammate

  8. Fascinating! Your collection looks quite interesting. I hope they never get rid of pennies in our money system. It would turn retailing on its ear if there wasn't the option to make people think something was less expensive by making it $XX.99!
    See you next week!

  9. Elongated pennies, how did that start, fascinating. We sometimes call our pennies coppers in the UK but like Denise don't know how true that description is.

  10. As joy just said our base coins are called copper and for a while they were made of cupro-nickel but nowadays i think it is a combination of nickel and zinc.

  11. since posting the commment above I checked my facts and it seems our "silver" coinage (5p, 10p, 20p, 50p coins) are cupro-nickel whilst our post-decimal "copper" were made of brass until 1992 and since then are of copper-coated steel!

    No zinc at all!