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Issue Date: January 2005 Issue


Fast Lane

Eugene Sukie, 79, penny collector

A penny saved is a penny earned. One-point-four million pennies saved is grounds for diagnosis. Meet Eugene Sukie, 79, of Barberton. In November, Sukie converted 34 years of penny-collecting into $14,000 and a potential world record. He cashed in his stash at supermarkets, banks and, finally, the last 88,792 pennies at side-by-side Coinstar machines in the Lyndhurst Giant Eagle. With previous penny collections, he purchased a Schwinn bike in 1939 and offset part of his daughter's wedding costs in 1970. "That's it. I'm done with collecting," he says. "Well, except for my Hot Wheels collection, my pencil and my playing-card collection, I'm done."

Why did you finally get rid of the pennies?

We had a pretty strong electrical storm a few months back and I looked at my wife and said, "I don't think electricity and five tons of copper in our house is a very good idea."

How many rolls did you need?

28,000.

Wouldn't it have made more sense to collect $100 bills?

Believe me, if I had them I would have collected them.

The thing is, you didn't just collect pennies. You collected them.

Every roll I had was organized by the year and the mint. Plus, I had a loose-leaf binder where I logged them all. So at any time, I could tell you what pennies were in what box.

Have you talked to anyone about this problem?

What problem?

When you started in 1970, did you have a goal?

I told my wife I wanted to collect a million of them.

Do you ever shop at JCPenney?

Who doesn't?

Penny Marshall your favorite actress?

I'm not sure I know her.

Do you listen to Fifty Cent?

Who?

Are your pennies from heaven?

No, they're from the U.S. Mint. And I love that song.

Have you ever handed someone a nickel and asked for change?

If something cost 26 cents, I've been known to give the cashier a quarter and a nickel so I could get four pennies back.

Do you prefer heads or tails?

I never really paid that much attention. People always say if you see a penny with tails side up, it means bad luck.

You know what good luck is? One-point-four million pennies.

It's not luck. It's patience.

What were the most pennies anyone ever gave you at one time?

I had a woman bring me about $125 worth once.

Were they rolled or unrolled?

Unrolled. If somebody ever gave me rolled pennies, I'd unroll them and re-roll them.

Have you talked to anyone about this problem?

What problem?


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