I've gotten back some strange foreign coins at the cash register before, but I've never been quite so lucky as Lynn Moore of Sumter, S.C., who found this one in her handful of change at a Bi-Lo. The uneven edges and heavy weight apparently mean it's an ancient Hebrew coin that predates modern mints. One thing's for sure, says Moore: "It's definitely not a penny."
Actually, another thing's for sure: It's definitely not a West African Kissi penny either, as you'll already know if you've read "10 Coins that Aren't Boring" from our latest issue:
Named for the Kissi people living in and around Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, the pennies are actually rods of twisted iron roughly 1 foot long. Each has a double-pointed tip at one end and a leaf-like piece at the other—distinctive marks that kept "clippers" from being able to whittle away the metal and pawn off the cut coin as whole. The exact value of the Kissi penny is not known, but it wasn't much. Large purchases were made by binding Kissi pennies into bundles of 20 to 100. Historians do know, however, that Kissi pennies weren't taken lightly. They were said to possess a soul, and if one was broken, it was repaired by a blacksmith under the guidance of a local priest.