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Jibes aside, cent goes on

If the Jan. 14 issue of the Wall Street Journal and the current Feb. 4 cover dated Time Magazine have noticed the cent, its high production cost and its potential elimination, does it mean the circulating coin’s days are numbered, or will the spotlight on the copper-coated zinc coin only confirm the opinion of a majority of Americans that it should be preserved?

No question the final elimination of the cent in Canada in February will start another discussion among collectors about the future of the U.S. counterpart, but we’ve been here before.

We have visited this topic over and over again.

It seems like every time another country eliminates its lowest denomination coin it generates some knowing nods in the United States that our cent’s time will come. But it never does. The U.S. cent lives on. The idea of eliminating the cent gains little traction with the general public.

Why will this time be any different?

Canada’s cent distribution by the government to regular commercial channels stops Feb. 4 – usefully postponed so the retraining of cashiers and the public wouldn’t occur during the holiday shopping season.

Perhaps Americans looking north will learn something and decide that they can live without the cent as well.

But it is useful to remember that Canada eliminated the $1 bill following the 1987 introduction of the $1 coin called the Loonie.

We didn’t follow their example then. Why would we now? The U.S. paper dollar’s future still looks pretty healthy.

I still pick up cents from the sidewalk or street if I encounter them.

I imagine some people laugh about it behind my back. But I’m used to that. I’m a collector.

I’ll bet if you ask those same people who joke at my expense whether the cent should be abolished, they would probably come down on the side of preserving the lowly coin.

That’s just the way it is no matter how many times we discuss it.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."