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Penny Portrait - Create a portrait of Abe from old pennies's video poster

Do you love money? How about America? Now you can have your own portrait of Abe Lincoln made from a bunch of little Lincolns... Read more

Austin, TX Mixed Media
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pledged of $1,200 goal
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This project was successfully funded on April 19, 2014.

Do you love money? How about America? Now you can have your own portrait of Abe Lincoln made from a bunch of little Lincolns...

Austin, TX Mixed Media
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About this project

Thanks to everyone who helped successfully fund this crazy project.  For those of you who missed out, feel free to hop on over to where Penny Portraits will be on sale until supplies run out.


Hi, I'm Maury thanks for swinging on by!

I created a portrait of Abe Lincoln out of pennies.  It turned out really well, and I've since created a kit so you can do-the same.

Penny Portrait Kit includes everything you see here!
Penny Portrait Kit includes everything you see here!

The pennies on the poster are actual size, so it's easy for anyone to take an old jar of pennies, match and glue them to the four shades of pennies on the print, and have their own amazing copper creation! (It's like color by numbers with coins.) 

Kit + Pennies & Glue = ART!
Kit + Pennies & Glue = ART!

I did a trial print run and created a website selling them for $24 and the response has been great.  I'm nearly sold out!

My goal now is to do be able to do a much larger print run, which combined with quantity discounts on tubes and other materials will allow me to reach a price point that opens up all sorts of new opportunities!  

I'll be able to make these affordable for teachers, get them in catalogs, and hopefully even retail stores. (Does anyone have friends at Michael's?)

Not to mention, I can get them in the hands of the patriotic, money loving Americans who funded me (along with other fun goodies)!

Now the print looks great as is, but when you add ACTUAL pennies, it is a real head turner. The dark/light combined with shiny/dull make for an eye popping effect. It looks particularly stunning at the end of a hall way or the far side of a room.

But wait, there's more!

Each Penny Portrait Kit is going to include : 

  • 18 x 24 Penny Portrait Poster
  • Genuine 1943 Steel Penny
  • Assembly tips & tricks handout

I will also include a booklet with each kit that has facts and info about:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Lincoln Pennies & Coin Collecting
  • Chemistry Experiments with Pennies
  • Impressionist Art & Optical Illusions & Much, Much, More!


1: Who is this product for?
A: This product is for people who love money and who love America. If you meet either of these qualifications, you should probably buy two just so people don't suspect you of being a communist. (The NSA is watching...)

2: How many pennies does it take to complete a penny portrait?
A: There are 846 pennies in the 18x24 Penny Portrait. Those are divided as follows:

349 - Shiny new pennies
112 - Lightly used pennies
97   - Well used pennies
288 - Old as dirt pennies

On the plus side, you know your finished work of art will be worth at least $8.46.

2: That is a lot of pennies! How much will this thing weigh?
A: That's a great math question for the kids! A modern penny weighs exactly 2.5 grams, so 846 pennies will weigh a total of 2,115 grams.

One thousand grams = one kilogram, and one kilogram just happens to be the weight of 1 liter of water. (Those metric folks are pretty clever!) With that in mind, the penny portrait weighs about the same as a very full 2 liter of soda. In English units,(and who are we kidding, we're American's dammit!) that equals a little more than 4.5 pounds.

Keep in mind, if you want to frame your penny portrait behind glass, that will add some additional weight, but overall, it won't be too heavy and will hang on a wall just fine. (Part of the reason we didn't make a 36" x 24" poster!)

3: Why are some pennies darker than others?
As pennies age and are exposed to the elements, they tarnish and get a thin coating called a "patina" that is darker than the original color. Unlike rust, which actually destroys the metal underneath, a patina serves as a protective coating.

Tarnished pennies and dirty pennies aren't the same thing. You can wash away dirt, but a tarnished penny will remain that way unless a chemical reaction takes place. (To see an example, combine a tarnished penny with ketchup or vinegar.)

4: Are there really four shades of pennies?
Actually, there are many, many different shades of pennies. I chose to use four shades because I felt it gave a significant amount of detail to the picture without the need to spend all your time sorting pennies.

To sort pennies, simply split them into two piles (light and dark) and then take each of those piles and do the same thing again.

5: Will the shades of the pennies I have exactly match the poster?
We made every effort to select colors for the poster that are as close to the pennies you will find in circulation. That said, it is not important that the shades of pennies you own exactly match the colors printed on the poster.

In fact, if you can only sort pennies into dark and light you will still get a very effective illusion.

6: I'm lazy, do I need to glue pennies to this thing?
A: Not at all, the poster is a unique work of art as is! Penny Portraits are printed on extremely high quality poster material and are suitable for framing right out of the tube.

7: What are the age recommendations for completing a Penny Portrait?
If your kids can work with Elmer's Glue and pennies, (and you trust them not to eat either…) then they are old enough to complete a Penny Portrait! A little bit of hand-eye coordination is involved, but no more so than doing a jigsaw puzzle. 

If you decide to frame your Penny Portrait, they might want a little help from an adult. It would take some pretty strong magnets to put a penny portrait on the fridge.

8: How long will this take to complete?
Once you have your pennies sorted into four shades, it will take one person 5 to 8 hours to glue all the pennies to the poster. The more people involved, the faster it will go!

9: Are there any tips or tricks to finishing a penny portrait?
Start collecting those dark pennies when you find them. You need quite a few and while you can always make pennies shinier with a little chemistry (explained in the included materials) making dark pennies is best done by Mother Nature and time.

The Penny Portrait Kit includes a two-page handout with a number of tips and tricks for sorting pennies as well as putting the final poster together. Don't worry though. At the end of the day, it is as simple as 1. Put glue on penny 2. Put penny on poster.

10: Will the poster look as good as the pics on this site?
It will look even better! A completed penny portrait will shimmer and reflect light making the illusion even more pronounced. A photograph really doesn't do it justice. One neat quality of a finished portrait is that in a dark room with just a little bit of light, the shiny new pennies will make the picture appear to glow!

11: What is the best place to get pennies?
A: Grandparents! - If that doesn't work, you can always dive in a fountain...  Seriously though, your neighborhood bank will be happy to sell you some. Pennies can be bought in 50 cent rolls.

12: How did you create the Penny Portrait?
A: The Penny Portrait image was painstakingly created using historical photos of Abraham Lincoln and countless hours of tinkering at the computer. The final image itself is made up of 846 individual pennies, all of which are the exact same size as pennies from the U.S. mint.

Numerous versions were created including a much larger poster, posters with various shades of pennies, pennies lined up in a straight grid and pennies aligned vertically instead of horizontally. I worked hard to create an image that is both easy to assemble and a convincing optical illusion.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about my fun little side project.  I'd love to get one in your hands so that you can enjoy it as much as I have.

All the best,


Update: We are also involved with "Kicking it Forward".  A cool concept where those projects that are funded pledge 5% of the profits to help out other Kickstarter projects:

Risks and challenges

I've already done most of the heavy lifting. The poster is designed and ready to go! I've picked out a printer, priced the tubes and acquired a massive quantity of steel pennies. (Seriously, I have a Scrooge McDuck bag of steel pennies...)

My children are too young to force into child labor, so rolling posters and putting them in tubes will take a bit of time, but hey, that's what Netflix is for.
There is the possibility I could run out of steel pennies, but that would mean this project has gone really, really well.

All things considered, I can pretty much guarantee this project should go off without a hitch if I'm fortunate enough to get funded.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    2 backers

    Thanks for supporting the effort! Your patriotic duty is fulfilled.

    There won't be any reward, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness. So you'll have that going for you...

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    1 backer

    One genuine 1943 Steel Penny along with a 2" x 3.5" Penny Portrait sticker. The same image as the full size poster but on a smaller scale.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $12 or more

    30 backers All gone!

    Early Bird Special:

    Let's get this kicked off right! The first 50 people get a kit for half the intended retail price. That will get us half way to the funding goal. See below for kit details.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $12 or more

    20 backers All gone!

    Early Bird Special Continued:

    20 more people get a kit for half the intended retail price!

    (The other $12 Early Bird tier above mistakenly had the wrong shipping date. Rest assured all rewards from both Early Bird tiers will ship THIS April.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $12 or more

    10 backers All gone!

    Early Bird Special: What the heck, I'll add another 10 kits for folks that have just discovered the fun. That's half the intended retail price. See the $15 reward tier below for what is included.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    30 backers

    A complete Penny Portrait Kit in white cardboard tube. This includes an 18" x 24" Poster on 100# gloss cover. A 1943 steel penny. A simple to follow instruction guide and a booklet with facts and info about:

    -Abraham Lincoln
    -Lincoln Pennies & Coin Collecting
    -Chemistry Experiments with Pennies
    -Impressionist Art & Optical Illusions
    & Much, Much, More!

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    4 backers Limited (36 left of 40)

    A complete Penny Portrait Kit (same as above) packaged in a snazzy clear tube. Great if you want to give it as a gift.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    22 backers

    TWO complete Penny Portrait Kits in one white cardboard tube. That includes 2 of everything (steel penny, instructions, booklet)

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $30 or more

    1 backer

    One kit for you, and one for your favorite teacher. Send us their address and we'll surprise them with a great teaching tool. Where else can one learn about history, politics, art, chemistry and money all in one fun-filled activity!

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    For those of you with too much money and not enough time, I will create and ship you a completed Penny Portrait (pennies attached). Trust me when I say I've acquired LOTS of pennies. It will look good.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States

Funding period

- (60 days)