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The Pressed Penny

A father finds out something enlightening after trying to return a gift after Christmas.

It's penny time.

Lines stretched around the store at this time. It was 10 o’clock in the morning in the Shepherd’s Emporium in Wilmington, Delaware. D’Vonte Sinclair waited in line just a few moments before he reached the counter this day after Christmas. Shoppers had brought their huge bags of unwanted gifts. Sinclair just clutched a simple plastic handbag. In it remained a peculiar piece of metal that his daughter said that she wanted to keep after receiving it as a stocking stuffer. But then she said that she didn’t need it because the machine failed to emboss new images on either side and left it not blank, but untouched. So, he moved along in line. Each step was an adventure, every move a journey. Finally, he reached the counter.

“Happy new year sir, and welcome to Shepherd's Emporium. How may I assist you?”

“I have a return.”


“I was wondering if you could possibly take this penny back.”

The store associate examined the coin.

“This is a pressed penny. We cannot take those back because they have been warped out of shape and cannot be resold.”

Sinclair stepped away from the counter with the sliver of metal in his palm.

He then looked closer at the penny. Its small writing read that this was no ordinary cent. This penny was made in the mid-nineteenth century. He had never noticed this writing. Prior to pressing the penny, Sinclair just reached into his pocket and pulled out whatever loose change remained available. His heart raced, but his mind slowed. He had such a clarity of thought that he knew exactly what to do. He exited the Emporium with a shot of adrenaline like a spark surging through a wire.

He first stopped at a pawn shop owned by Norville Clever with a glowing neon sign that read, “Whatever’s Clever.” Sinclair burst in from the frost outdoors.

“You’re Clever.”

“And you’re right. Happy new year. What can I do for you?”

Sinclair extracted the coin.

“I had attempted to return this coin to the store, but I was turned away. I've anticipated seeing if you or a specialist could determine its worth.”

Norville Clever beheld the shiny piece of metal.

“I can call up an expert that can tell you exactly how much that penny is worth.”

In a few moments, the Specialist walked through the doors.

“Happy new year, ‘Ville. And to you, too... sir?” the Specialist said shaking Sinclair’s hand.

“D’Vonte Sinclair.”

“Yes, of course. We must see this very curious cent.” The Specialist took out a small box and set aside a loupe and a few cloths. Sinclair looked at all of this with anticipation.

The Specialist held the penny to the light, examining it for the date and any other distinguishing markings that would make it worthy.

“Now, normally, a pressed penny wouldn’t fetch anything. But this penny was struck in 1867. It should be worth about 10 million dollars.”

Sinclair straightened up, bridling his excitement. “10 million?”

“It would’ve been 50 million had it not been pressed, but yes. That’s how much I rate it.”

Clever looked at Sinclair. “That’s too rich for my blood. I can give you 50,000.”

“Out of 10 million? No, Specialist, where else can I go to receive the full value for this penny?”

“You can visit the Mint in Wilmington. They ought to be able to provide you with that exact amount and maybe even more.”

Sinclair shook hands with Clever. “It’s been a pleasure. I thank you for your time. Mr. Specialist, I thank you for your expertise.” Sinclair was at the door now. “Enjoy the new year.”

On the drive to the Mint, Sinclair kept a trained eye on the somewhat snowy road. The figure bounced around in his mind. He arrived at the Mint.

When he went through the security clearance, he clutched the cent. He visited with an officer of the Mint. He confirmed the worth of the coin.

“Yes. This is worth 10 million dollars. We can write up a check for you or deposit it into your account.”

“Please deposit it. Thank you.”

Who’s the money going to be for?”

“My daughter.”

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