Honestly, how many people really use pennies anymore? How many pennies do you have in your pocket or lying at the bottom of your purse right now? How many do you have hidden away at home in an old canning jar, cigar box, or coffee can? I’ll say right now that I have at least a dollar’s worth of pennies jangling around the bottom of my purse, and probably another dollar’s worth hanging out underneath the seats of my car. The truth is, most people forget about or overlook their pennies and go for the bigger coins, if they have to use coins at all.
In the United States, our humble and hardworking penny has been a staple of numismatics since 1793. That could soon change given that the cost of production for a single cent coin has exceeded its face value; that’s actually been the case for a number of years now. In fact, as of February 2011, it cost 2.4 cents to make a single cent coin in the United States– sort of silly, right?
Even their utility as a coin is limited; they’re not accepted in most vending machines, parking meters, phone booths, candy machines, or toll booths. So why keep them? Well a couple main arguments for keeping the penny include the assertion that if the penny were eliminated, rounding up to the nickel would cause consumers to be hit with a rounding tax. In addition, it is argued that it would be easier to change the composition of metals in the penny to something cheaper than zinc. Then there are always the charities that rely on the penny as one of their sole contributors; and of course, who can forget the Abe Lincoln fans?
These are great arguments, but in tough economic times like these, how long will the United States cent continue to be minted?
Our northern neighbor in Canada announced that they were minting their final penny in 2012. This move will ultimately save Canada approximately $11 million per year. Other countries such as Australia, Brazil, Finland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Britain have already eliminated their low denomination coins to save time and money in multiple forums.
Numismatists have always been fans of pennies, and often the penny is one of the first coins a new collector will acquire. Certainly, if production of the United States cent ends, there will be a renewed interest in pennies of the past. Here at ICCoin.com, we have many different options for collectors, including various sets, Indian Head pennies, Lincoln Wheat pennies, and Flying Eagle pennies.
The pros and cons of producing cent coins stand up next to each other fairly equally, when looking at the situation objectively. There are certainly reasons to keep the penny; but there are also a number of opportunities that could be realized out of eliminating the coin. What are your thoughts? (Leave us a comment!)
Amanda Paulger-Foran, for ICCoin.com
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