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Community Voice Responses (01/17/2012)

From the Dec. 23 Numismatic News E-Newsletter: Should cents be abolished rather than made of steel? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor, Dave Harper.

 

It’s time to get rid of the 1 cent coin. It just isn’t needed anymore. Most people just toss them in the car console or the coins surface around the house and aren’t carried for change. Then the stores need to order and carry them just to repeat the process. After they are abolished, change the metal in the 5 cent coins as well.
Jerry Christensen   Binghamton, N.Y.
I believe the cent is a needed coin and should be made of steel.
Ralph Campbell   Lewisburg, W.V.
I am against abolishing the cents. As we all know, the purchasing power of the cents is very near to zero. Still, I think it should be left alone. Supermarkets will simply round out their prices, so will gas stations etc., and the cost of living will go up. Here in the Republic of Panama, we use U.S. currency, and with the low wages, a cent is still a cent.
Simon Faj   Panama
Of course the 1 cent coin should be discontinued. Not only does it cost 1.7 cents to make, it costs even more to transport, and it’s hoarded or thrown away so much that we have to make billions every year. It serves no purpose. Nothing can be bought with a penny, and the public would be better served by rounding their total purchase price to the nearest nickel.
Changing the composition would save some money, but the penny would still be useless.
We should eliminate 1 cent and 5-cent coins, and $1 and $2 bills, start making dollar coins again and introduce a $2 coin. We have allowed our coin and bill system to become so out-of-date that it no longer serves us well.
Paul Anderson   Brookline, N.H.
I believe the government should do away with the cent except for providing a copper cent in the mint and proof sets. We already have non-circulating, legal-tender halves and dollars in the sets, why not a NCLT cent as well.
Malcolm Johnson   Oceanside, Calif.
The possibility of U.S. cents being made of steel once more does not truly address the obvious problem of its impending obsolescence.
When it goes, it may be a small loss for numismatists and may even create a feeling of sentimental angst in some circles. But we all know that production costs of coinage are continually rising and play their part no matter what material is used to manufacture this much-loved but completely outdated and virtually valueless coin.
My younger teenage grandchildren, for instance, have never handled the small bronze Australian 1 or 2 cent coins in a business transactions.
Many younger American kids may also never get to handle an Abe Lincoln penny in a few years time, after the eventual economic reasoning prevails – and it will.
Common cents should be replaced with common-sense.
Precedence has been established already with the demise of other small value U.S. coins in the past, so it is really no big, strange new deal.
The financial markets in many other modern nations have coped with rounding of amounts in paper transactions as well as at the supermarket till for many years.
Inflation has reduced the smallest coins of small change to nothing but token status in most instances. It is far better that they should be removed for logistical purposes.
Graeme Petterwood   Australia

No, they should stay the same as they are or even put back to copper pre-1982. At least the cent and the nickel will have some value in our pockets, instead of the un-backed dollar bills we use. But should it happen, at least I will be looking for the few that escape the Mint with the wrong metal alloy and, like the 1943 copper cent, become a legendary coin.
Alan Hepler   Laytonsville, Md.
I am torn between the two choices that we have. On one hand, I know that there is a cost of making the coins and the cost to make the penny is more that it is worth. On the other hand, we can have it produced and made of steel and it would cost less to manufacture, in turn saving money. With collectors and the cost of manufacturing, the choosing is easier said than done.
Let’s look at collectors, I am a novice collector of coins and have been doing it for a few decades. I enjoy going through and separating my change and looking at everything that I get. Pennies are a significant part of any collector’s collection. Pennies are often the coins that we start our children and grandchildren out on. This allows them to easily get their collection started and become future numismatists. I feel that the only penny that should be made of steel is the 1943 steel penny. This is part of our history and is very significant to what was happening in the United States during that time.
The cost of manufacturing the penny costs taxpayers more money than the coin is worth. This is a no-brainer. We cannot continue to spend more than we bring in.  Look at our federal government and the national budget. We must come up with a way that our penny can still be made and not cost more to make them than it is worth.
Is there any way that we can make our penny so that we can keep it safe from destruction? Make it with other materials and coat it with copper? Make it with steel and coat with copper? I do not want to see our penny go away, and I do not want to see it made out of steel. There has to be a road down the middle to work with. I feel the penny is too important as a piece of our heritage.
Donnie M. Davis   Danville. Ill.
Pennies should be retained but made of an inexpensive material.
William Stilley   Brandon, Miss.

Economically, I feel abolishing the U.S. penny would be a good idea but, given the “$XX.99” pricing mentality of U.S. businesses and purchasers, I doubt it will happen. As for steel cents, I have several rusty 1943 steel cents. So I would say no to that idea.
Richard Adlof   Peoria, Ill.

Cents should not be made anymore. I work in the money counting business, and can say that to save money the feds should eliminate the cent from production, there are still enough around to satisfy the needs of commerce. The way we sort most foreign money is by using a magnet. With a steel cent, the magnet would be useless, not to mention the coin would be ugly.
Look at the aluminum money from other countries, and you will know why we have never made our cent from aluminum. It makes the issuing country look cheap and the money looks totally worthless, which it usually is. If cents did disappear from circulation, one would have to ask where the trillion or so cents that have been made in the last 70 years go to? They are still out there, and I believe there would be cents in circulation for a long time into the future from the Coinstar machines.
Also, the dollar bill should go away. People think holding dollar coins would be such a pain, but look at the British pennies that people carried until the 1960s. We employ at least seven people to unfold and stack bills, which are then put into counting machines to be banded in $100 stacks. A lot of people perform this job, because the modern fare boxes on buses do not stack bills, they fall into a hopper, and need to be stacked in order to count. The dollar coin would be a huge success, just as it was in Canada, and next up would be the $2 bill.
Steve Demmer   Los Angeles, Calif.
As someone who has lost his job and is now only working four days a week and making less than I ever did in my life, I pick up cents people drop on the ground.Some are wheat cents and I get 3 cents from my dealer for each one. Also, I pick up bottles for the nickel return. I have found a place that pays 6 cents for them. Getting rid of them would put me even closer to losing everything.
Dwight Dunbar   North Syracuse, N.Y.

In Australia, we had two low denomination coins that came into circulation when we adopted decimal currency in 1966. They were the 1 cent and 2-cent coins. By 1992, the cost of producing them and accounting for them cost much more than they were worth.
Finally in 1992, they were withdrawn from circulation, although still legal tender. The lowest denomination now is the 5-cent coin.
For practical purposes a process called rounding out is used. If you go shopping and your bill comes to $29.67, you pay $29.65. If your bill comes to $29.68, then you pay $29.70.
There was a lot of hot air being blown, especially from the press down here about shops making a killing from rounding out. In fact, it balances out both for consumers and sellers, as sometimes they pay a little more, and other times they pay a little less.
The argument died out a long time ago. In fact, our consumer society is becoming rapidly cashless. Charges can still be made in the 1 and 2-cent increments. It just appears on paper and doesn’t take any physical form.
There is even talk about abolishing the 5-cent coin and making the 10-cent the lowest coin denomination.
Dave Ross   New South Wales, Australia
My feeling on the matter is that we should do whatever it takes to keep the penny in production even if it means making them out of steel. I think that mathematically, the cent has merit and is a useful equation. As it stands, it represents 1/100th of a dollar and as long as it physically exists, it will add the imaginary weight needed to help sustain the value of the dollar.
Otherwise, the nickel becomes the new penny, and the dime becomes the new nickel, and what used to cost us 50 cents will now cost a dollar. So taking that into consideration, I believe that the purpose of the cent is to help stretch the value of a dollar, and to abolish it would only aid to further the economic trauma that we as consumers now face.
Sure, I’m all for making the penny cheaper as opposed to the other alternative of abolishing the cent and devaluing the dollar.
Mercury Reuben Williams  Seattle, Wash.
Why waste more money making steel cents? Just keep all the current pennies in circulation. They will last between 50 and 100 years. If you ask me, steel pennies will rust in no time. They are just worthless junk money.
Well, another good thing of the United States of America we will not see anymore. My grandchildren will never know what it was like to hear the ringing sound of silver coins and copper pennies when dropped on the floor.
Stephen Bonelli   Webster, N.Y.

This should be a no-brainer but sometimes sentimentality rules over reason. Of course, the cent should be abolished because it’s good for nothing. When’s the last time anyone bought something for a penny? Also, there is no vending machine, toll booth or parking meter anywhere in the U.S. which will accept a penny.
And then there is the rounding off argument. Some say that if the cent is abolished then stores will round off the previous $1.99 price to $2.00 and other prices ending in 99 or 49 cents to the next higher amount. That argument is ridiculous, most likely prices would be rounded to the nickel so $1.99 would be $1.95, $1.49 would be $1.45 and so on. Sellers always want to make you think you are getting goods for less than the next higher amount so eliminating the cent would in actuality benefit the consumer.
Finally, even if the cent is made of steel or some other cheaper metal, there is still a cost to manufacture it. Why waste taxpayer money to mint what is essentially a worthless relic of the distant past?
Ralph Haines, Jr.   Edgewood, Md.
The 1 cent piece should be retained.  Abolishing the denomination will fuel inflation.
Peter Gaspar   St. Louis, Mo.
I think it’s time to get rid of the cent. Maybe take all those old pennies and remelt them so we wouldn’t have to buy more new copper. Save the taxpayer a little money and the cost of making pennies.
Chris Biga   Stevens Point, Wis.

If the government decides to make the 1 cent coins out of steel, they should be made out of stainless steel so they won’t rust.
Jerry Stuart   Keller, Texas

I support abolishing the penny.
Charles Coleman   Sinking Spring, Pa.

Why waste more money making steel cents? Just keep all the current pennies in circulation. They will last between 50 and 100 years. If you ask me, steel pennies will rust out in no time. Just worthless junk money.
Well, another good thing of the United States of America we will not see anymore. My grandchildren will never know what it was like to hear the ringing sound of silver coins and copper pennies when dropped on the floor.
Why doesn’t the U.S. Treasury put the Presidential dollars in general circulation. There are 1 billion sitting in warehouses costing us storage fee. What a waste
Stephen Bonelli   Webster, N.Y

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