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Fate of the cent fascinates all of us


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I was delighted to see the Viewpoint on Page 7 come my way. I hope you enjoy reading it. It shows collectors at their best and most controversial. It is usually hard to achieve such a combination.

To have written the Viewpoint, Mr. Brommer had to search through cent rolls. That is an ever popular collector pastime. Even if we ourselves do not do it, we are keenly interested to discover if we are somehow missing out on an activity that occupied so much of collectors’ time many years ago.

Even though I still avidly search through my change, I rarely go to the bother of actually searching through rolls of coins to see what might be currently circulating.

The controversial part is the conclusion that we might as well abolish the cent. Many collectors as well as many in the general public will strongly disagree with this position. The issue is a serious one and it also has an emotional component to it. It is hard to find somebody who does not have fond memories associated with the cent. To abolish the denomination almost seems to be a direct attack on those fond memories.

The reason the Viewpoint shows collectors at their best is twofold. Mr. Brommer shows that he was organized by sending examples of the cents he was referring to. When collectors send me images to use, I am grateful and it is helpful to other readers.

The fact that Mr. Brommer changed his mind on a this controversial issue demonstrates that we collectors are open minded about things that touch us deeply.

It is my hope that other readers will write in to express their opinions on the state of the U.S. cent. If they want to tell other readers about what they are finding in circulation, that is fine. If they want to weigh in on the future of the denomination, that is fine too.

If they want to combine the two approaches as Mr. Brommer did, that will work for readers as well. It is all good information that readers find interesting.

The fate of the cent has been a lively topic of collector interest since the necessity for a composition change was recognized in 1974. The fact we did not change the composition until 1982 is a manifestation of the lucky break the coin got when copper prices went down and it gave the Mint a leisurely period in which to develop alternatives.

That eight-year period interestingly now matches the length of time we have gone since 2006 when the current copper-coated zinc cent began costing more than one cent to make.

Even back in 1974 there were collectors who were ready to abolish the cent. The 40 years that have passed since have given another generation the opportunity to cherish it the way prior generations did.

There is no question that its ever diminishing purchasing power argues strongly for its abolition, but its power to evoke memories still motivates many to defend ongoing use of the coin.

Send your opinions to david.harper@fwmedia.com.


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