What’s Your Interest-Rape?

Now, you really have to be pissed off at your bank to pay your credit card bill in pennies.  Well, not really pissed I guess, just motivated.  I’m sure we would all like to pay off our ridiculous 33.3% credit card balances with pennies, just for the obvious reason:  the interest-rape.

I know some of you don’t pay 33.3% interest on your credit card balances, but whatever your interest-rape is, I’m positive its way too high.  Say, for example, you have a great 19.9% interest-rape.  If you pay $39.66 a month, it will take you five years to pay off a $1,500 balance.  Okay, you say you have a 9.99% interest-rape.  Same $1,500 balance.  If you pay $31.86 every month it will take you the same five years.  At least your cash flow improves $7.80 a month.  I believe the prime rate is .25 today, and the current mortgage interest rate is 4.37%.  My bank is only paying me 1.5% interest on a certificate of deposit with a withdrawal penalty.  WTF

So I was amused when I read about the Mira Mesa, California man that paid off his $6,500 Chase credit card balance with 650,000 pennies.  That’s 2,229 pounds of copper pennies.  He said he did it because they turned him down for a refinance.  Serves them right, I say.  They turned him away several times until they found a bank with a big enough vault to put them in.  I’m really finding this amusing but its old news.  Happened back in March.

What are the odds that one or more of those pennies might be valuable?  I wonder.  The only existing 1943 penny struck in the wrong metal, sold for $1.7 million in September, 2010.  The money went to an undisclosed charity after the original owner donated the coin.  The penny was mistakenly cast in bronze by the Denver Mint.  During the war, pennies were made with zinc-coated steel.  Copper was too valuable to the war effort.  The Denver mint made more than one of the accidental pennies using a leftover 1942 bronze disc, but this is the only known penny that survived.

In other old “old” coin news,  a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel sold for $3.7 million in what was called vigorous bidding.  This was one of five of these nickels that exist.  One of the nickels, known as the Olsen specimen,  was featured in a 1973 episode of “Hawaii Five-O.”   It was also briefly owned by Egyptian King Farouk.  Only three of the coins are in private hands, two of them are in museums.

What makes them so valuable, besides only five exist, is that they were minted without the authority of the United States Mint.  That means that the coins were minted by an unscrupulous employee of the mint, although not illegal, the actual events are clouded in mystery.  They were minted in January or February, 1913 at the Philadelphia Mint before the new Indian Head Nickel, which replaced the Liberty Head, was authorized by the Mint.  A collector, who owned all five of the coins originally, was probably involved.  The Olsen coin sold at auction in Orlando Florida on January 7, 2010.  The name of the seller and buyer was not released.

You know what a numismatist is?  It’s a coin collector.  I’m not one.  In fact, none of this really interests me that much, except how much people are willing to shell out for one of these rare coins.  So these numismatists practicing numismatrics, research all this coin stuff, and it has a big determining factor on what a coin is worth.  For example, the last specimen in the 1913 Liberty nickel collection of five was only worth $40,000 because it has been circulated, carried around in someone’s pocket for a long time.  A 1912 Liberty nickel? Most are probably worth a nickel.

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