The phrase, I learned, was coined by a John Heyward just before the 16th Century (before 1501). At least that’s what the website wiseGEEK says.
So … if we look at how much the penny has devalued in the last 512 years, how much would asking for a thought actually cost you? Frankly, I couldn’t find out. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator (a handy-dandy gadget you can use online) only goes back to 1913.
But I did learn that the purchasing value of a penny in 1913 is now 24¢ today. Which means it costs you 24¢ to buy a thought that only cost 1¢ back then.
Using the CPI calculator, I found out that a penny back when I was a third-grader 50 years ago would be worth 9¢ today.
So … me personally, I’d have to give you 9¢ for your thoughts. And that’s just my 2¢ (er, 18¢) worth.