The Quick 10: 10 U.S. Coins You Won't Find in Your Pockets

The change pocket of my billfold is full of pennies. Just pennies. I pilfer dimes, quarters and nickels for the vending machines at work, or sometimes parking meters. But pennies? I never use them. Half pennies would be even worse, so I'm really glad those went out of production more than 150 years ago. Here are a few more coins you're unlikely to find jingling in your pockets... and if you do, I'd definitely avoid using them in Vendoland, no matter how strong your Diet Coke craving is.

1. Large cent. Unlike the currency of most countries, our coins don't get larger with a larger denomination. That pesky dime just screws everything up. But it was even more out of order from 1793-1857, when the cent piece was about an inch in diameter. That made it slightly bigger than a quarter.

2. The half-cent. Production of this coin of little value was during the same time frame as the large cent - 1793-1857. It was made of pure copper and was just slightly smaller than the large cent. The 1797 variety had "Two hundred for a dollar" etched into it, which really puts it into perspective.

3. The two-cent piece. The two-cent piece had a run of less than 10 years "“ 1864-1873. Its design contributed to the coins we use today: it was the first piece of U.S. coinage to have "In God We Trust" on it. There was some talk of bringing the two-cent coin back during the 1970s, but it obviously went nowhere.

4. The three-cent piece. When there was a rare postage decrease in 1851, taking the price of a stamp from five cents to three, people demanded a three-cent coin. I guess they really believed in super-precise change. There were two three-cent coins, actually - one was called a three-cent silver, which was the lightest coin ever made by the U.S. It was even smaller than a dime and, in fact, was given the nickname "trime."

5. The half-dime. I know what you're thinking: "Um, you mean the nickel?" But no "“ the half dime was totally different. Made of silver, it was smaller than the dime and was doing just fine as our five-cent piece until people with investments in the nickel industry lobbied for coins to be created with their metal of choice instead. Their arguments were successful and the first nickel five-cent piece was minted in 1866. Since the half-dime wasn't phased out until 1873, that meant U.S. citizens had a couple of five-cent coin options for a few years. By the way, should you ever come across an 1870-S half dime, don't let that thing out of your sight. The "S" stands for San Francisco, and up until the late 1970s it was unknown that any of these coins were minted in San Francisco. They're extremely rare "“ selling one would net you at least $425,000, which is what the one discovered in 1978 sold for.

6. The 20-cent piece. If you find yourself in possession of a 20-cent piece, you're in luck. This particular coin was minted for an extremely short period "“ one of the shortest in American history "“ and was not very widely circulated. On top of that, it was minted in the Carson City Mint, which was only open from 1870-1893. So what does all of that mean for you? It means if you have one, your measly 20-cent piece could be worth a cool $460,000, which is what an 1876-CC piece went for just last year.

7. The three-dollar piece. There was a method to the madness of the three-dollar coin. You see, at the time, a stamp was a mere three cents. So with a three-dollar piece, people could easily buy a sheet of 100 stamps just by forking over one of these heavy gold beauties. It didn't prove to be very popular, though, and it was discontinued in 1889. Today, one is worth at least four hundred dollars and possibly up to $4,000,000 for an extremely rare 1870-S version of the coin. How rare? So far, only one is known to exist.

8. Stella. Then there's the four dollar coin, AKA the Stella. It was made when the U.S. was thinking about joining the Latin Monetary Union, a movement that was kind of like the creation of the Euro in modern times. All currency would contain a certain amount of silver or gold so it could be spent in any country and still have the same value. As you've probably noticed, the LMU fell apart after WWI and was never implemented. The Stella went with it. What I find most amusing about Stella's story is that when the whole plan went kablooey, the unused coins were sold to Congressmen as collector's items. You can imagine what a scandal it was when the coins showed up as jewelry on some of the most famous bordello madams in Washington.

9. Fractional currency. When times get rough, people hoard precious metals. We're experiencing that to a certain extent now. But during the Civil War, people refused to spend coins, believing the value of the metal might be worth more than the actual coin sometime in the near future. To try to counteract this, the government issued paper money in tiny amounts - three, five, 10, 15, 25 and 50-cent notes.

10. The Eagle. I think it's a good thing the eagle never really took flight "“ imagine how mad you would be when you discovered that a hole in your pocket caused you to lose $40. The eagle was a 10 dollar gold piece that was in circulation until 1933; there were also quarter eagles and double eagles. And if you think losing one of those would be bad, imagine if a denomination called the Union had been put into circulation "“ it would have been worth 10 eagles.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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