#1-Four Coins = 83 Cents
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?”
“United States coins?” I asked.
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.
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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?!
Cool coin i have never seen a 3 cent coin either but i have seen a 3 dollar dollar
are you freaking kidding me
The only cool money thingy I have, is a 2 dollar bill and only SOME people have them!!! 🙂
Did you know some people think $2 bills are unlucky? If I had one, maybe it would be unlucky, but if I had a hundred, then I would be VERY LUCKY because I would have $200!
Cool! I didn’t know that! 🤯
I love your book
You are really smart.
Thanks, but I’m not a genius or anything!
I thought after almost finishing the book it was that the 1909cent that was worth 3cents was for three cents but now that i see it that doesn’t make sense lol
that 3 cent coin looks cool!
It is SOOOO cool. I’m the only kid (I know) who has a three-cent coin.
i dont know if you remember but you visited my school?
What school was that?
WOAH THAT’S COOL
For Passover I got 25 two dollar bills when I found the afikomen. One of my uncles gave them to me, and at first, I thought they were a prank!
Even though some people think $2-dollar bills are bad luck, I think getting 25 of them is REALLY GOOD LUCK!