Baby name inspired by Utah sales tax


On November 20, 1936, Anne and Roy Tygesen of Salt Lake City, Utah, welcomed a baby boy.

Mr. Tygesen had brought “a cigar box full of coin” to the hospital. Why?

“This is to pay for the hospital room,” he announced.

“Every time we paid a sales tax we put the change in this box.”

Hospital attaches counted 69 dimes, 320 nickels and 1,302 pennies.

Mr. and Mrs. Tygesen are searching for a name suggestive of Utah’s 2 per cent sales tax.

(Starting in 1933, the state of Utah had a 2% sales tax that required the usage of specially minted “sales tax tokens.”)

So what name did the Tygesens chose? Penny…sort of.

It was only a nickname. The baby’s official given names were Jasper Penroy — the middle name evidently a combination of Penny and Roy. (Two of Penny’s four siblings also had “Roy” in their names: RoyAnne and Roy, Jr.)

Jasper Penroy went on to have at least six children of his own, one of whom was a girl also called Penny.


  • “Obituaries.” Daily Herald [Provo] 6 Aug. 1973: 4.
  • “‘Sales Tax’ Baby Is Born in Utah.” St. Petersburg Times 21 Nov. 1936: 10.
  • “‘Sales Tax’ Baby Named.” St. Joseph News-Press 22 Nov. 1936: 12A.
  • Schindler, Hal. “A Token Effort.” Salt Lake Tribune 23 Oct. 1994: J1.

Image: Adapted from Wheat Penny by finn under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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