The world’s ugliest million dollar penny?

We’ll admit the story behind the headline-fetching Miss Liberty penny is interesting, but we won’t concede that it’s a beautiful coin.

OK. We’ll admit the story behind the headline-fetching Miss Liberty penny (pictured to the left) is cool, but we can’t concede that it’s a beautiful coin. I’d probably go as far as to say it’s the ugliest million-dollar coin I’ve ever seen. In case you hadn’t heard, the 1792 Silver Center Cent (as it’s officially called) sold for $1,150,000 on Thursday, April 19, 2012, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel near Chicago.

Historically, there have only been about 25 coins that have sold for more than $1 million. What makes the Miss Liberty so valuable?

“After 200 years, we can only account for 14 of these,” Todd Imhof of Heritage Auction Galleries, the company that sold the penny, told the Chicago Tribune. That’s because the coins never actually went into circulation.

The experimental silver center cents were produced shortly after the Mint was established by George Washington in 1792. To prevent counterfeiting, Thomas Jefferson suggested the Mint not make pure copper coins, but instead make copper coins with a small silver plug in the center. The silver plug (which is visible on the Miss Liberty pictured above) would add intrinsic value to the coin and make it tough to duplicate.

Unfortunately, even the Mint had trouble producing the bi-metallic coins, and they eventually opted to issue 100-percent copper coins to the public. That explains why the experimental Miss Liberty coins are so rare and coveted. Ugly or not, that makes one of these coins in good condition worth a million dollars.

Apparently, discussions about the world’s ugliest coins are fairly common. There’s at least one forum dedicated to discussing ugly coins. It doesn’t look like the Miss Liberty’s come up, but I suspect it will eventually.


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