This penny had an oval pattern, clearly deliberate, etched on the obverse covering Lincoln’s face and a good portion of the bust. It was flower-like, but crude, as if the etching was done with slightly too much acid of some sort. Not long ago I was telling a new friend about my elementary school route.
My friend told me how she, too, kept her eye to the ground and found things a lot. In fact, her mother had scolded her about it, and she thought that may have inspired an art piece she’d done over a decade earlier. She called it Penny Drop – 125 Pennies Etched and Scattered. She made 125 drawings and etched them onto pennies. The pennies were then inked and printed before being dropped and scattered across the globe.I mentioned my penny. I was pretty sure I’d saved it and could dig it out. Maybe it was one of hers. Probably not, but you never know. After all, she had made 125, but it was over a decabe before (around the millennium), and though a few had been recirculated in San Antonio, the rest were scattered across the planet, with the exception of 40 or 50 saved for future travels.
She’d printed them all – 5 prints with 5 x5 rows of etched pennies pressed onto them. She still had a set and we could compare the prints to the penny I had. I opened the container and sifted through a mound of pennies, odds and ends, and that bolt for my bed frame that I can never find. Sure enough, the penny was one of hers. We matched it to the last penny on the last row of the last printed sheet she’d pressed.
It’s a small word. Smaller still when a penny, created in part due to a trait I share with the artist, travels a decade to meet a future friend, waits patiently in my tin of small treasures, and reunites with its creator.
I did an art piece where I made a bunch of little drawings and photo etched them on pennies. I inked up the pennies to make a record and printed them. It was called Penny Drop 125 Pennies Etched and Scattered. It also played on the old rhyme,find a penny pick it up all the day you’ll have good luck. Of course if you pick up the penny you have an art piece and that is worth alot more then a penny nowadays.This also played on a kind of pun in printmaking where you drop paper onto a plate. Drop an image on the press, drag and drop in PhotoShop…the pennies would drop onto the press as plates and then onto the ground or spent. I then proceeded to get rid of them. They have been dropped on the ground in Florence, France, Germany, spent in Laurel, MD, and Seattle and Madison, WI., anyplace I traveled. I hung onto a lot of them for a long time.
Some of the pennies did not etch well because they are not totally copper any more – and pennies do not have a flat surface, making accurate etching difficult [*note: The switch to copper-coated zinc happened in 1982. This penny was minted in 1985].
The penny is now framed and hanging in my home.
If you have one, or find one, let Margaret Craig know how you came about it. If she still has the print your penny’s included on, she may give it to you.