Portland Penny

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Coin with a woman's profile with flowing hair and a head band marked "Liberty", surrounded by thirteen stars and an 1835 mint mark below
Portland Penny
coin with the image of a garland of oak leaves surrounding "ONE CENT" and surrounded by "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"

The Portland Penny is the name subsequently given to a specific copper matron head one-cent coin, used to decide the name of Portland, Oregon, United States.

The City of Portland's two founders, Francis Pettygrove from Portland, Maine and Asa Lovejoy from Boston, Massachusetts, both wanted to name the fledgling site—then known as The Clearing—after their respective home towns. The coin toss was decided in 1845[1] with two out of three tosses which Pettygrove won.[2][3] The toss occurred in the parlor of the Ermatinger House, in Oregon City. This house, the oldest in Clackamas County, is now a museum.[4] Portland was incorporated in 1851.[5]

The coin, minted in 1835, was found in a safe deposit box left behind by Lovejoy and is now on display in the Oregon Historical Society Museum.[6]


  1. ^ "Historic Portland". Pdx History. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  2. ^ "Portland History—The Town that was Almost Boston". Travel Portland. Archived from the original on 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  3. ^ Orloff, Chet. "Francis Pettygrove (1812-1887)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Portland State University. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  4. ^ "Museums, Historic Sites & Transportation". Mt. Hood Territory. Archived from the original on 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
  5. ^ "Welcome to PdxHistory.com". Pdx History. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  6. ^ Annear, Steve (January 24, 2014). "If Not for a Coin Toss, Portland, Ore., Would Have Been Called Boston". Boston Magazine.