What is the diameter of a penny in cm? If you’ve ever wondered about the size of a penny, you’re not alone. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about penny diameters, from their history and specifications to how their size compares to other coins.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the diameter of a penny is 19.05 millimeters, which converts to 1.9 centimeters or 0.75 inches.

In this guide, we’ll cover the diameter of pennies in depth. We’ll look at the history of penny sizes, their official specifications in metric and imperial units, how large they are compared to other coins, and even some fun trivia about the dimensions of everyone’s favorite copper coin.

The Official Diameter of a Penny

The United States one-cent coin, commonly known as the penny, has been minted by the U.S. Mint since 1793. Over the years, the specifications of the penny have changed, but the current measurements have remained consistent since 1982.

Penny Specifications in Millimeters

The diameter of a modern United States penny is 19.05 mm. The thickness is 1.52 mm. These millimeter measurements have been the standard for all pennies minted since 1982.

Before 1982, pennies had slightly different dimensions. For example, the Lincoln Wheat penny produced from 1909-1958 measured 19.0 mm in diameter and 1.55 mm thick. So the current penny is very slightly larger in diameter but thinner than its predecessor.

Converting Millimeters to Centimeters and Inches

To convert the diameter measurement of a penny from millimeters to centimeters, simply divide by 10 since there are 10 millimeters in one centimeter:

  • Penny diameter in mm: 19.05 mm
  • Convert to cm: 19.05 mm / 10 = 1.905 cm

So a United States penny is 1.905 cm in diameter when converted to centimeters.

Converting to inches, divide by 25.4 instead since there are 25.4 mm in one inch:

  • Penny diameter in mm: 19.05 mm
  • Convert to inches: 19.05 mm / 25.4 = 0.75 inches

Therefore, a penny is 0.75 inches in diameter. Isn’t that an interesting coincidence that a penny is about three-quarters of an inch across? 

Measurement System Penny Diameter
Millimeters (mm) 19.05 centimeters
s (cm) 1.905 matches
s (in) 0.75 in

So now you know the exact diameter of a United States one-cent coin in both metric and imperial units. This info is great for craft projects, experiments, or calculations involving pennies.

The History of Penny Sizes

The penny has been around for centuries, but its size has changed over time. Here’s a brief history of the different penny sizes throughout history:

Large Cent (1793-1857)

The first penny minted in the United States was the large cent, which was produced from 1793 to 1857. These large copper coins measured about 1.5 inches (38 mm) in diameter and were much thicker and heavier than today’s pennies.

Flying Eagle Cent (1856-1858)

In 1856, the Flying Eagle cent was introduced. This was a small cent, meaning it was smaller than the large cent. The flying eagle penny was made of 88% copper and 12% nickel and had a diameter of 19mm.

Indian Head Cent (1859-1909)

The Indian head cent, also known as the penny, replaced the flying eagle cent in 1859. These pennies featured Lady Liberty wearing a Native American headdress on the obverse. They were made of the same copper-nickel composition as the flying eagle cent and had the same diameter.

Lincoln Wheat Cent (1909-1958)

In 1909, a new penny design featuring Abraham Lincoln was released to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The Lincoln wheat cent, or wheat penny, was nearly identical in size to earlier pennies, maintaining a diameter of 19mm.

Also composed of 95% copper, these pennies featured two stalks of wheat on the reverse and remained in production until 1958.

Lincoln Memorial Cent (1959-present)

In 1959, the current version of the Lincoln Center was released. Made of 95% copper and 5% zinc and retaining a diameter of 19mm, these pennies feature an image of the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side.

So while pennies have remained a similar size for over 150 years, the current penny diameter of 19mm was established with the small cent pennies of the mid-1800s. The Lincoln Wheat Cent and memorial cent kept to this size standard.

So if you want to know the diameter of a penny in centimeters – it’s right around 1.9 cm!

Penny Dimensions vs. Other Coins

Pennies vs. Nickels

Pennies have a diameter of 19.05 mm, while nickels are slightly larger at 21.21 mm. Though the size difference seems minor, it’s enough that you can easily tell them apart by touch. An easy way to remember is that nickels are bigger in both size and value!

When stacked, you’d need around 1.2 pennies to equal the height of a single nickel. So if you had a whole roll of 50 pennies and stood them on their side, the stack would be shorter than a stack of 40 nickels.

Pennies vs. Dimes

At 17.91 mm across, dimes are smaller in diameter than pennies. But their slimmer size means you can fit more dimes in the same space. For example, line up five pennies next to each other, and they take up around 95 mm.

But five dimes lined up only take up around 90 mm, even though their denominations add up to a higher value.

Dimes make up for their petite diameter by being thicker – their depth is 1.35 mm vs 0.75 mm for a penny. So don’t let a dime’s cute size fool you – it’s still packing more metal!

Pennies vs. Quarters

Quarters dominate over pennies when it comes to size and value. At 24.26 mm in diameter, they’re significantly wider than 19.05 mm pennies. Line up four quarters next to each other, and they take up almost the same space as five pennies!

Coin Diameter
Penny 19.05 mm
Nickel 21.21 mm
Dime 17.91 mm
Quarter 24.26 mm

Additionally, quarters are good luck charms for coin collectors and arcade gamers alike. According to numismatists, finding a quarter means money and prosperity will soon follow! And to 80s and 90s kids, a quarter meant access to irresistible claw machine games and grocery store bubble gum dispensers after school.

Fun Facts About Penny Diameters

Pennies have been around for centuries, but many people don’t know some interesting facts about their size and dimensions. Here are some fun tidbits about the diameter of pennies throughout history:

The Diameter Has Changed Over Time

While today’s pennies have a diameter of 19mm, that wasn’t always the case. Early Colonial and pre-Federal pennies had diameters ranging from 23-29mm. The diameter was standardized to its current size in 1857.

Pennies Can Be Used for Basic Measurements

Since most pennies have a standard diameter, resourceful people have used stacks of pennies to roughly measure small distances. While not perfectly precise, it can give a decent ballpark figure in a pinch!

The Thickness Has Also Changed

While the diameter has stayed the same since 1857, the thickness of pennies has changed over time. Modern pennies are 1.52mm thick, but in past years pennies have been minted at thicknesses ranging from 1.5-3.11mm.

Fun Tricks Use the Diameter

The penny’s size makes it perfect for simple magic tricks and fun bar bets. Making a penny “disappear” behind your ear or rolling it seemingly through a table allows the diameter to add spectacle.

It Fits Surprisingly Well in Common Items

From bottle caps to washers, many everyday items just happen to have openings and holes that pennies can neatly fit into. This makes pennies useful for impromptu repairs, tools, and more.

So the next time you have a penny, take a closer look! Those dimensions have been carefully selected over many years to make the penny into more than just loose change.

What Is The Diameter Of A Penny In CM – Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of ground on the diameter of a penny. To review, a penny is 19.05 millimeters or 1.9 centimeters across – pretty tiny compared to other coins! But throughout history, penny sizes have changed along with their metal composition.

And their diminutive size makes them perfect for all kinds of DIY crafts and magic tricks.

Hopefully, this guide gave you everything you ever wanted to know, and maybe some things you didn’t, about the diameter of a humble penny. Understanding official coin dimensions helps put their size into perspective.

So next time you have some pennies jangling around in your pocket or tucked away in a jar, you’ll know exactly how wide those little copper discs are.

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