Jack Daws' Golden Penny Finds Home in Brooklyn

Jack Daws' experiment means it's even harder to pass up that penny on the ground.
Back in 2007, Seattle sculptor Jack Daws cast 10 pennies in 18-karat gold then dipped them in copper. Nine of them he kept. One he did not.

As Jennifer 8. Lee of the New York Times reports, in March of that year Daws carefully counted out $11.90, including the gold penny, for a Hustler magazine at a Los Angeles International Airport newsstand. Daws stuck around long enough to have a cup of coffee, wondering if the purchases he was watching included his coin. Then he left.

For two years he heard nothing. Then, late this summer, Daws got a voicemail from a woman in Brooklyn. "I think I found your gold penny," the message said.

The person on the other end of the line was Jessica Reed, a Brooklyn graphic designer. By happenstance, she was also a collector of unusual coins.

When Reed was checking out of a grocery store earlier this summer, she noticed something funny about one of the pennies she got back. The copper had flecked off, revealing what looked to be gold underneath.

Reed put the penny out of her mind. But was reminded of it later when doing a Google search for another rare coin. When she looked up Daws' experiment, both the date on her penny (1970) and the extra heft (three grams instead of the normal two) convinced her she had found the coin he'd put into circulation two years earlier.

Reed says she's going to keep the coin, maybe frame it. And collector that she is, she still can't wrap her head around the kind of person who'd willingly throw it away.

"I can't imagine being an artist who does something like this," she told the Times. "It's the opposite of having your stuff shown in a gallery. It could be tossed."

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