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Viewpoint: Cent no longer useful in commerce

 

By Don Bonser
Please forgive the pun, but I’d like to offer my 2 cents’ worth on the elimination of the cent. Get rid of it!

It costs over 2 cents to produce. Where’s the logic in continuing to mint it? I’d strongly be in favor of continuing to mint it for mint sets, proof sets, and even rolls and bags that collectors can buy directly from the Mint (at a profit to the Treasury),but its time has passed for use in regular commerce.

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Allow me to relate a personal story to illustrate my opinion. About three years ago I went to Australia for three weeks with my dear friends Matt and Laura Kleinsteuber, who make their living in the coin hobby, as I do. We visited and drove through vast areas of the country, from the tropical north to the Outback and on down to the southeast coast from Adelaide to Sydney (with a stop to tour the national Mint in Canberra, of course)! We brought hundreds of dollars’ worth of Australian paper money and coins to repatriate and spend. We quickly found out that they no longer use their bronze 1 and 2-cent coins in daily commerce. (“You can probably cash those in at a bank for silver, mate!”– -silver being the colloquial term for copper-nickel coins.)

We didn’t have many cents and 2-cent coins, and happily gave them away to a young lady manning the entrance to a provincial park in South Australia so she could give them to her children.

The Australians certainly don’t miss their cents, and their dollar is worth a tad more than ours. Yes, rounding occurs and was always in favor of the consumer, not the business (3 odd cents or less would be rounded down in your favor, 4 cents up to 5 cents in the merchant’s favor). America, too, will get along fine without the cent.

A last brief Aussie story regarding their money. We paid for our entrance fees to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney with a large group of $1 and $2 coins imported from the USA. Matt jokingly asked the lady at the admission booth why the $2 coins were substantially smaller than the $1 coins. Without missing a beat, she replied, “Why are your 10-cent coins smaller than your 5-cent and 1-cent coins, and you do still have those worthless 1-cent coins over there, right?”

We couldn’t say much to that. And yes, I do know that the dime is smaller because it once contained silver. But it hasn’t since before I was born.
This “Viewpoint” was written by Don Bonser of Orlando, Fla. “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 david.harper@fwmedia.com.

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