Probably from the color of the copper from which the coin was minted.
- (US) A copper penny.
- (US, colloquial) A very small amount of money.
- I wouldn't pay one red cent for a ticket.
2011, Jann Arden, Falling Backwards: A Memoir, page 158:
- My dad said he wasn't going to pay the bastards ten red cents.
- Usually used in the negative.