Saved pennies crash through ceiling

Aug 1947: Clarence Ellsworth had been saving pennies by dropping them through a crack in his attic floor. Finally, when the number of pennies reached 1,672, the weight of the pennies broke through the ceiling and landed in his living room.

This raises the question: how much did 1,672 pennies weigh?

According to Wikipedia, pennies issued before 1982 each weighed 3.11 grams since they were made from 95% copper. After 1982, the U.S. Mint substituted a copper-plated zinc penny that weighed less.

3.11 times 1,672 comes out to 5200 grams (rounding up) — or approximately eleven and-a-half pounds.

I'm surprised that was enough to break his ceiling. Perhaps there were other issues, such as water damage, that contributed to the break.

According to an online inflation calculator, $16.72 in 1947 money would be worth $234.18 today. And the repairs would have cost approximately $175 (in today's money).

Bangor Daily News - Aug 12, 1947

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 16, 2024
     Category: Money | 1940s

Two points of reference:

$100 in mixed change weighs approx. 7 lbs 8.4 oz. (Since January, 2022, I've been saving all my change. Only American pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. No dollar coins, no foreign coins. Found a "27 oz." glass jar which holds $100 (twice-counted) perfectly. It's now four full jars and one nearing full. Mixture must be fairly uniform because the levels in all the jars are within a quarter-inch of each other and weigh within 1.5 oz. of each other.)

In the early 1970s, I was putting in some attic insulation. My 6-year-old daughter thought she'd help. I turned around to find her coming towards me, not stepping from ceiling joist to ceiling joist but walking right on the lath and plaster. She was a bit on the skinny side but still had to weigh at least sixty pounds. No damage at all! (Because of an incident a year or so later, I can attest the ceiling would not support a 200+ man whose foot slipped off a joist.)
Posted by Phideaux on 04/16/24 at 07:46 PM
1. Houses weren't built to the standards applied today. My house is 124 years old. I imagine putting the weight of those pennies in a small area would result in damage and probably failure of the lathe & plaster of my ceiling.
2. $12 to repair the damage says it all.
3. How long was this guy out fishing that his wife informed him by writing, and mailing, a letter?!
4. The attic floor was the best place to stash his pennies?
Life in 1947 was SO's all kind of 'weird' isn't it?
Posted by Teri on 04/17/24 at 12:13 AM

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