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How to lose a cent but gain knowledge

When I was a kid, Canadian cents would circulate alongside American coins of the same denomination.

I knew Queen Elizabeth II, as well as her father George VI, from the royal portraits that passed through my hands.

These coins technically were not legal tender in the United States. But the attitude of people in the Upper Midwest where I lived was simply “so what?”

There were never enough of these coins to cause a problem.

I could go for weeks without seeing one. I had a paper route back in the 1960s. I should know.

I expect this made any kind of coin crackdown an expensive way to correct a very small problem.

Lucky me.

I treasured those coins. They were not really “foreign.” To me, Canadians were more like cousins who lived up the road a ways.

Why not use their money? They were family.

At the time I became acquainted with these coins, the Canadian dollar was trading at about 92 cents.

Again, so what?

Every time I accepted a Canadian cent, I was taking a small loss. But what I earned in educational value cannot be measured in such terms.

Other Canadian coins could also be found in change.

I encountered five cents through 25 cents.

I also learned that American coinage slang did not cross the border.

They did not use quarters, dimes and nickels. They used 25-cent, 10-cent and five-cent coins.

But it didn’t matter what they were called,. Canadian coins were interesting.

These coins have diminished in my change in the last 50 years even though I live in the same part of the United States.

I received a Canadian cent the other day.

They aren’t used north of the border any longer. They have been recalled.

Canada stopped making them in 2012. In 2013, it was reported that they were melting 36 billion of them.

That is a huge number.

Some obviously got away.

I kept the latest cent I received.

As was the case when I was a child, I am losing money by doing so. But I’ll bet if I tried to spend it, somebody else would take it for a cent.

The next recipient might not be as emotionally attached to it as I am, but they probably think of Canadians as cousins up the road, too.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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