• seperator

Fate of cent back in the spotlight?

Here we go again.

A story posted online the other day likely will help set up the next boxing match that we coin collectors will all watch avidly.

In the left corner, the returning heavyweight champion of the world, the U.S. cent.

In the right corner, the challenger who wants to abolish the denomination.

Who will win?

My money is on the cent.

It is undefeated.

It likely will stay that way.

However, the next boxing match between the two looks like it is going to be set up by the Bank of England.

Last time, it was the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Bank of England is questioning the utility of the British penny.

It is taking the same hard-nosed attitude toward the 2p coin, for which there hasn’t been a U.S. counterpart since 1873.

Every time some major country abolishes a denomination like the cent, the question is always asked why the United States doesn’t do the same.

The arguments are identical.

It costs more than face value to make, so the U.S. government loses money on each cent.

Most cents are used once when they are received as change.

Then they are taken home and hidden away in jars or cans – wherever they can be thrown and not thought about again until there are enough to take to the CoinStar counting machine.

Sooner or later, it is likely that the Bank of England will persuade the chancellor of the exchequer that it is time for the penny to go.

The equivalent office in the United States is the secretary of the Treasury.

This is is held by Steven Mnuchin.

Is he likely to abolish the cent?


The cent has taken on the aura of Mom, apple pie, and the sweetheart a soldier leaves at home.

It is a symbol of frugality.

It is a constant in a world where upsetting changes happen too often.

Mnuchin is not likely to offer up a suggestion that riles up a majority of people of both political parties.

This new story about the Bank of England will simply end up showing how different we are from the United Kingdom.

The people there might “tsk, tsk” our response to the cent question.

A question for another time is why the Bank of England never changed its name to the Bank of the United Kingdom.

Perhaps we can get a boxing match going over there about it.

Then we can “tsk, tsk” the outcome.

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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One Response to Fate of cent back in the spotlight?

  1. Vachon says:

    I selfishly like cents because it’s one of only two denominations remaining in circulation (the other being the nickel) where dates older than 1965 can be readily found and in occasional instances, much older than that but realistically I know their time has been over for a while now.

    I’ve been alive nearly 40 years and I’ve never seen a vending machine that accepts cents. Based on articles in Numismatic News, I assume cents became a “nummus non grata” in vending machines sometime between 1974 and 1982 given the industry’s opposition to the proposed aluminum cent then but seeming silence on the copper-plated zinc ones later.

    So based on purchasing power, the cent probably could’ve been eliminated at the same time silver was being removed from the dime and quarter and based on machine acceptance, no later than 1982.

    I personally don’t understand the arguments against abolition centered on rounding nor why rounding should be necessary in the first place. We don’t price in mils and round up to cents so why wouldn’t all prices simply be nickel incremented upon the cent’s elimination?

    As for sales tax, I neither know why sales tax is surcharged at the point of purchase nor why the consumer is responsible for paying it when it’s the business that remits the tax to the state. It would seem the sales tax argument could be eliminated entirely by simply abolishing it and increasing corporate income tax rates slightly to compensate. That way, we could go back to “what you see is what you pay” pricing.

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