By Bruce Remick
As a longtime cent collector, I would have no problem if we end its production. Aside from the high cost to mint it, the cent has little value in itself anymore.
Along with all other U.S. coins, the dollar included, they are used primarily to return exact change for cash purchases and they usually end up in a jar at the end of the day.
Few people find the need to leave home in the morning with yesterday’s change in their pocket.
Rounding a final purchase amount up or down to the nearest 5 cents might take a few years for some to get used to, but it would solve more problems than it creates unless one makes frequent 3-cent purchases.
Otherwise, one week your $134.58 grocery bill will round up to $134.60 and the next week’s bill of $125.67 will round down to $125.65.
For those few who somehow still find the cent to be an important part of their routine, the billions of them already in circulation will not go away.
It seems wasteful to spend tens of thousands of dollars exploring new ways to continue producing such a trivial coin more economically. With technology rapidly offering us more and more ways to make convenient cashless purchases, I can envision little need for minor coins at all in another 10 years as plastic and smart phones are used to handle most sales. Those coins already in circulation should suffice.
By the time we eventually do figure how to produce a cheaper cent, there will be no practical need for it.
But if we still can’t bring ourselves to pull the plug on the cent, why continue to mint billions of them every year? Skip one or two years. Crank up the presses again only if we should run short of them in commerce.
Like we do with the half dollar and Presidential dollar, the Mint could continue to produce limited numbers of cents each year for sale to collectors. Anyway, true cent collectors should find it more satisfying to concentrate on earlier dates than to add a couple current coins to the album each year.
This “Viewpoint” was written by Bruce Remick of Springfield, Va. Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.