Lucky Pennies

Lucky Pennies

Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck.

Some folks believe that if you find a penny heads up and pick it up, it will bring you good luck. If you find a penny tails up, then flip it over to face heads up, but leave it there for the next person to find their own bit of luck.

That was the inspiration for this #OneLifeCan mindful act of kindness. In our daily travels near and far, we have left these lucky pennies in random places to bring a bit of luck to others. Everyone could use a little bit of luck, right? Even if you don’t believe in that sort of thing, we hope this brought a smile to your day. Each of these pennies has been left with love in random places. How much love? Well, we hand-polished each penny, then coated it with a thin, protective lacquer to help protect it from oxidizing. It probably took us 5-10 minutes for each penny, but we think it was worth it. After all, not many people are likely to pick up a dingy, old penny, face up or no. Would you? With more than a thousand pennies planned for circulation, it’s a lot of work, but it’s done with love and wishing good thoughts for the happy recipient. Plus, it kept our hands busy as we binge-watched Netflix. 😉

If you are on this page, then you have probably found one of our lucky pennies and scanned the QR code on the opposite side taking you to this page. Feel free to share a story of a moment of luck or kindness, if you like. If you’re not in the mood to share, no worries, we’re glad you came to visit and we hope that you are inspired by others’ stories.

Now you can be a part of creating luck for others and place this penny somewhere other than where you found it. Don’t forget, leave it face up!


All of the pennies that have come from are pre-1982 pennies that are still 95% copper, not the zinc coins plated with copper that started circulating shortly thereafter. So the penny you hold in your hands is special indeed.

We should mention that we aren’t coin collectors and we know that cleaning any coin devalues it for collection. We did try to keep an eye out for the rarer ones, but with more than a thousand pennies, maybe one of these slipped through. In which case, we’ll be over here in the corner banging our heads against the wall.

Step One: Scrub, scrub, scrub.

Lucky Pennies
We used Bon Ami to hand scrub the pennies. We chose Bon Ami over Barkeeper’s Friend because Bon Ami is more of a mechanical cleanser whereas Barkeeper’s Friend contains oxalic acid which damages the copper penny’s shine. We protected our hands with nitrile gloves, wore protective glasses and masks, and each penny was rubbed clean with just our fingers.

Step Two: Brush, brush, brush.

Bon Ami
We then used a toothbrush with the Bon Ami to get into the ridges and pesky nooks in the stamped dates and wording. The areas around Lincoln’s neck and torso were especially pesky.

Step Three: Buff, buff, buff.

Polished Pennies
We removed the last bit of oxidation and brought out the penny’s gorgeous shine with a jewelry polishing cloth and more rubbing. We’re pretty sure we’re going to have repetitive strain injuries after this. Why did we have to pick 1,000 pennies?! Couldn’t we have stopped at 100?

Step Four: Protect.

Varathane Protectant
We used Rust-o-leum’s Varathane Outdoor Spar Water Based Clear Spray. This protects the coin from oxidizing. We did observe that some of our pennies did brown from their polished shine even after the lacquer. We’re not quite sure why. It might be that the Varathane itself oxidized the copper in the penny. Or we might have waited too long between batches and the pennies started to oxidize in the air between the time we cleaned them and when we sprayed them. Or it might have been impurities in the water we were using the rinse the pennies. We moved to Berkey-filtered water and smaller batches between spraying and it seems to be helping. Nonetheless, each of these cleaned and polished pennies is still more beautiful than any penny you probably have in your pocket.

Step Five: Squint and Scan.

QR Codes
We put a QR code on the tail side of the penny. Remember, that side is the bad luck side. 😉 We were doubtful that a QR code that small could be recognized, but to our surprise, it can! You can try it with a QR code scanning app, Samsung’s built-in Samsung Internet scanner, or iPhone’s native camera app.

It will usually pick it up with no problems, but sometimes you’ll need to zoom in and let it autofocus. Our first labeling attempt failed because we tried spraying our labels with the same Varathane protectant to help protect it from the elements and the ink bled. We then tried a weatherproof label with the spray, and it still bled. So we just used the weatherproof label with a bit of glue to keep it fixed to the penny. We’re pretty sure over time with wear the QR codes will become unreadable, but that’s how the coin flips sometimes.

Sheesh. All that work for some silly pennies that most people will just pass right over? Well, sometimes we put good out in the Universe and if the Universe conspires, it will connect with the right person. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard–and been a part of–stories where the right kind word or act at the right time meant everything to someone. We’re hoping these pennies find their way to those folks.

*Full Disclosure: After hand polishing the first couple of hundred pennies, we might move to a rock tumbler to help do more of the initial cleaning, because RSI is becoming a real possibility. We did try a batch with some Brasso, and while the pennies came out very clean, they lost their shine and we weren’t able to bring it back with any amount of polishing.