Patriotic pennies. April 24, 2009Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
Tags: Ben Franklin, famous graves, Founding Fathers, Paul Revere, pennies on graves
Our friend Ben would like to know what’s going on here. If you read our friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders’s post, “Burying Ben,” earlier this week, you’ll recall that Ben Franklin’s grave in Philadelphia is always littered with pennies, since it’s a tradition that tossing a penny on old Ben’s grave will bring you good luck. This may seem to be counterintuitive, given Ben’s maxim, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” but our friend Ben can see how the tradition would have come about. Ben Franklin, pennies. They do go together.
However. This morning, our friend Ben was catching up on Dave Duffy’s blog over at the Backwoods Home Magazine site (www.backwoodshome.com, or click on our blogroll at right). Dave’s been on vacation in Boston, and was sharing some photos of his trip with us. One photo showed Paul Revere’s grave. Only, it was sort of hard to see the grave under all the pennies people had thrown on top of it. What the bleep?
Now, when he wasn’t busy making his Midnight Ride, Paul Revere was a silversmith by trade. So our friend Ben could understand it if a tradition sprang up that throwing a dime on his grave would bring prosperity, at least back in the days when dimes were actually made from silver. (Not that anyone could have afforded to throw one away back then.) But pennies?!!
Our friend Ben couldn’t find anything online about this “tradition.” A quick call to Richard didn’t turn anything up, either. Now I’m wondering if every Founding Father’s grave is littered with pennies. (This would be more appropriate on the grave of, say, Alexander Hamilton, the founder of our treasury and banking system, than on the grave of that large-living spendthrift, Thomas Jefferson, who died bankrupt and left his estate and family to an uncertain but certainly a bleak financial future.)
So, what’s the deal with patriots and pennies? Does anybody know? And I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to go around tossing out pennies in the hope of attracting good luck, I think I’ll spend them on a lottery ticket and let our Founders rest in peace.