Penny loafers – with pennies
As a kid I collected coins from around the world. In my collection I had some old US pennies (despite being from the UK). I polished up a couple of 1961 pennies (the first year of JFK’s presidency) to live in my loafers, with Lincoln’s face peeking out.
Before 1982 pennies were made predominantly of copper, but after this date production switched to zinc, a cheaper metal which was then only coated in copper
So why was it ever a custom to put a penny in your loafers? Well, Bass ‘Weejun’ loafers (so named because the inspiration for loafers came from the shoes that Norwegian farmers used to wear) were popular shoes of choice for school age kids in the days when payphones were still common and only cost a penny per call. The lip-shaped opening in the strap of the loafers provided the perfect place to slip small items including a penny to make an emergency phone call home. You could say that carrying a penny in your loafers was the old-fashioned equivalent of school kids carrying mobile phones these days.