In Cheesie Mack Is Not a Genius or Anything, my grandfather Gumpy gave me a math problem while he was tapping his fingers together. Here’s what it was:

“Let’s say (tap, tap) there’s eighty-three cents in my pocket,” he said. “What’s the fewest number of coins I could have?”

He nodded (tap, tap).

I thought for a few seconds and answered, “Four.”

His forehead wrinkled up like he was surprised at me. “Nope. Six. A half-dollar, a quarter, a nickel, and three pennies.”

But I proved I was right . . . and he was amazed.

Did you figure it out?

Most kids think the correct answer is seven: three quarters, a nickel, and three pennies.

But that’s wrong because most kids don’t even think about a half dollar because they usually never see one. (I can’t remember the last time I held a half dollar!) But Gumpy knew about half dollars. That’s why he thought the answer was six.

So why is the correct answer four coins? Because in the 19th Century—at two different times, 1851-1873 and 1865-1889—the United States minted three-cent coins. I learned that when I was researching the 1909 Lincoln Cent that Georgie and I found in his basement.

I have never seen a three-cent coin for real.

If you want to try to puzzle your family and friends with questions like this, you need to know that the United States also had twenty-cent, two-cent, and half-cent coins.

Update: Look what I got in the mail!

Here’s what was in the letter.  I made the image much, much larger so the details are visible. You can see that it’s not the same as the three-cent coin above. The USA made two different designs in the 19th century. And now I actually own one. How cool is that?!

## back to the Genius List

1. BlaiseN. says:

That’s soooooo cool I wish I could send you one………but I can’t.:(

2. Anthony says:

It said that it had a hint in the book, so i looked through the book and then i found “did you know that there used to be a three cent penny”? three pennys is the same as three cents in one coin. those three pennys counted and 3 so the three cent coin shrunk it down to four!! (lots of typing in this!!)

3. katharine says:

that was tricky

4. Brooklyn Cohen says:

I saw a coin that was so awesome and old it was totally cool

5. christpher says:

SICK SO SICK

6. Everett says:

I have a half dollar in my piggy bank but I’m never EVER going to spend it.:)

1. Cheesie says:

Grandpa told me half dollars used to be completely common. Now you don’t see them almost anywhere.

2. Travis Cain says:

I have 2

3. Travis Cain says:

and 1 \$1 coin

Dear Cheesie,

I have a one dollar coin from the 1980’s!Its also made in the United States of America.

1. Cheesie says:

That’s v cool. My Granpa has a \$1 coin from 1898. I’ve seen it.

8. Keelie says:

COOL!

9. anaya says:

Wow! I have never seen anything like that!

1. Cheesie says:

Really cool, huh?

10. diyjah says:

awesome i havent seen a three cent coin in my whole life

11. bubbletastic says:

i have one chinese dollar and a bunch of euros (euorepean money) from when i went to europe the dollar is from my teacher

12. reiley says:

one your book gorgie (did i spell it right?) said the cleaner it is the more it costs but that is not true you know that right?

13. reiley says:

one your book gorgie (did i spell it right?) said the cleaner it is the more it costs but that is not true you know thwt right?

1. Cheesie says:

It is definitely NOT GOOD to clean old coins. I read somewhere it really makes them worth MUCH LESS!
(Georgie is the right spelling.)

2. CB says:

Georgie has cool glasses man!

3. Cheesie says:

Lots of kids =don’t like wearing glasses, but Georgie doesn’t mind a bit because, just like you said, he thinks his glasses are cool!

4. Cheesie's#1Fan says:

I have these glasses than can bend all over the place.

14. reiley says:

cool!!!!!

15. Bailey says:

My mom asked me the question I said ” 50 cents, 25 cents, 5 cents, and 3 cents.

1. Fake Cheesie says:

Good job! Was she really puzzled?

16. lol says:

l.o.l.o.l.o.l 8D

17. justyn says:

ha ha i know how to clean coins LOL

1. justyn says:

it takes a long time though
i learned from books ( which i read too many)

2. Cheesie says:

I asked my local coin dealer and he said DEFINITELY NOT to clean coins. They may look nicer, but it makes them worth much less.

3. wertyu says:

but if you clean coins they rust like the the statue of liberty it was originally brown but years of rain made it rust

4. Cheesie says:

You’re probably right, but the guy at the coin shop told me it is TERRIBLE if you clean coins. They lose lots of value.

5. Are you sure cheesie !?

18. Austin says:

Did you know that the 1909 penny is really worth about 950\$?

1. Cheesie says:

Depends on the condition. The more worn it is, the less it’s worth. But if it’s in perfect condition, it’s worth much more than \$950.

2. lol says:

acctualy< the 1903 penny is worth 3,000 dollars if it is in perfect condition. there is proof on many websites 🙂

3. CB says:

Whoa!

19. Kyle says:

I think it had JFK on it…

20. Kyle says:

my grandma has a \$10 coin! I saw it! Its real!

1. Cheesie says:

Does it say “Republic of Liberia” on the back? If so, it’s not really worth \$10. I looked it up. You should, too.

21. i immediately looked at the ancwer

22. Duncan says:

Thats cool, about five seconds after I read this, I immediately got on the computer to see what the answer was!

1. Cheesie says:

Pretty tricky, huh?

23. I already knew the answer to the question after I read the book, and that was before I even got on the computer!

1. Cheesie says:

That’s very good. Most kids do not get the right answer. Neither did my grandfather!

24. There’s one coin (the Victory Coin) that has morse code on the rim of it 😛

1. Cheesie says:

I never knew that! So cool. I just looked it up and the code on the side says, “We win when we work willingly.”

I wonder why all the words started with W.

Here’s what that would be in Morse Code:
.– .   .– .. -.    .– …. . -.    .– .    .– — .-. -.-    .– .. .-.. .-.. .. -. –. .-.. -.–

THANKS for telling this to me!

25. sam says:

what is the third book going to be about? Are you still working on it?

1. Cheesie says:

I am not supposed to talk about it, but it takes place at the beginning of sixth grade.

2. sam says:

Oh okay i will just wait until it comes out

26. sam says:

is the third book going to be called “Cheesie Mack is Running Like Crazy”?

1. Cheesie says:

I think so. That’s the working title. But things could change.

27. Taylor S. Chhay says:

I have a coin that equals to 1 dollar. I’m never going to spend it!!!

1. But there are lots of 1 dollar coins :P.

2. oh wait I forgot that most people on here are probably American :\

3. Cheesie says:

I’m guessing you live in Canada. My grandparents (Gumpy & Meemo) just took a cruise from New Jersey all the way to Halifax.

4. wertyu says:

one time someone gave me a canadian penny as change i have no idea on what to do with it

5. Cheesie says:

Did you know a Canadian penny is actually worth MORE than a US penny. (just a tiny bit more)

6. Cheesie#1Fan says:

I have a 1942-S cent. Is that worth much, Cheesie?

7. Cheesie says:

It depends on the condition. You can look it up online.

28. the coin u said u did not know what side was heads i think its pic. #2.

29. gla says:

Also (sorry i am typing so much) i never knew that 3 cent coins existed….i wonder how many are left.

30. gla says:

That is really cool…too bad it has a hole in it…what are you going to do with it???? Also about that half dollar coins my brother has 3 of them…and i have 1 of them they are really cool (but, i never use them)

1. Cheesie says:

I am going to keep it forever! I don’t think I’ll ever have another three-cent coin. My Granpa has a sock in his dresser that is filled with old half dollars. He let me look at them, but that’s all.

2. gla says:

Good choice that’s what i would do with one too!! That’s cool about all the half dollar coins you grandpa has…i wonder how many he has.:D

3. sarah says:

I have 5 of them.

31. Priya says:

I’m on page 91.it’s a really good book so far.

32. Alex says:

Sick cheesie!

1. Cheesie says:

Very tricky…huh?

33. Aron says:

that’s a nice puzzle. i never knew about 3 cent coins till i read this book. cool!

1. Cheesie says:

Me, neither. But now I have one! I hope you looked at the picture of it. (Too bad it has a hole in it.)

34. Jane T says:

I think coins are cool!

35. Julia says:

Now that’s coolio

36. man i haven’t even fineshed the book and i’m on the website

1. Taylor S. Chhay says:

I know, right?

37. Max says:

i wish i had one of every type of coin ever made

1. Cheesie says:

Cool wish! I bet there’s an not a museum or coin collector in the world that has one of everything.

38. :3 says:

i never knew ther was a 3 cent or a 20 cent or a 2 cent coin before! love your book

1. Cheesie says:

I think old coins are really cool. It’s old history just sticking around. Granpa told me lots of people carried silver dollars around in their pockets back in the 40’s and 50’s. He has a cigar box with about 40 of them. The oldest is from 1880, I think.

2. :3 says:

wow that’s really cool!!!!!
~:3

3. Cheesie says:

My next book (Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel) also has lots of knowledge stuff I learned and decided to write about.
http://cheesiemack.com/next-book/
I bet you’ll like it, too.

4. Taylor S. Chhay says:

My Science Teacher said that trees are also history hanging around, too!

5. Cheesie says:

That’s really interesting. Because trees grow so slowly, if they had brains and memories, they’d look at life very differently, I think.

39. Hannah says:

We had a presentation in our class about coins minted in the U.S. and this was after we read Cheesie Mack in my homeroom and when we had the presentation, the man showed us a 3 cent coin and he said we wouldn’y know about it but hands shot up and what did we say? … We know what it is! We read Cheesie Mack and some of us went on their website!

40. Lindsey Martino says:

I know what that coin is! That is a three cent piece usually made in the late 1800s. There pretty rare and might be worth something. Hold onto it for a while ask an expert about it’s value.

1. Cheesie says:

I did ask an expert. She said the hole in the coin makes it very NOT valuable. But I like it anyway!

41. wow!!!!!! I think you might like to answer this one,try \$27 in 12 coins

1. Cheesie says:

five \$5 gold coins, one silver dollar, three quarters, two dimes, and a nickel.
That wasn’t very hard. The more coins you have, the easier (usually) these kind of problems are…and 12 is a lot(!) of coins.

42. Jingyi Wang says:

I can’t wait until your next journal comes out, Cheesie! 😀

43. isaac says:

I collcet quarterts.

44. cool… I was thinking it would have to do with a half dollar 🙂

45. Jingyi Wang says:

I never knew that there was a 3 cent coin!

1. Cheesie says:

Me, neither. That’s why this turned out to be such a good puzzle.

46. Noel the beast says:

Cool, i did not know there was a 3 cent coin
🙂

47. lexi says:

i asked my sister and she said 6 coins

1. Cheesie says:

I hope you told her the answer was four coins (which includes one three-cent coin).

48. i collect money and coins