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Community Voice Responses (11/20/12)

From the October 26th Numismatic e-newsletter: Should the U.S. cent be reduced in size if an alloy change alone can’t save it? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.
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From the October 26th Numismatic e-newsletter: Should the U.S. cent be reduced in size if an alloy change alone can’t save it? Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

This is an interesting question, one that I had never considered before now. But this is not really a viable solution either. How small would they make it, perhaps the size of a half dime or 3-cent silver?
I believe that anything smaller than the current dime will be easily lost in pockets, drawers, couch cushions, etc. Then people will want them even less.
But wait. Maybe this would turn the tide of the general public to discontinuing the cent entirely because they are so annoying. But seriously, the production cost of making a cent is already more than 1 cent. So reducing the size really only reduces the “reverse seigniorage,” it does not solve the problem.
I am still convinced that eliminating the cent (and $1 bill) is the only way. The U.S. Mint would solve its cost of production problems with making the dollar coin for circulation again.
Dean Striegel
McKeesport, Pa.

My personal opinion is to either keep it at its current size or if they can’t find a cost effective alloy, to eliminate the cent.
As much as I have enjoyed collecting “pennies” since 1969, I believe it is up to the U.S. Mint to manage the costs of producing its coinage to the benefit of the taxpayer. It makes no “cents” to make cents that cost more than a cent. Maybe more attention would gravitate to the Jefferson nickel for young collectors to think about, thereby creating a demand for the Jefferson nickel and upping the value of a stagnant denomination.
Next in line though would be the nickel for elimination. Then attention would be put to the Roosevelt dime. I’m sure the dime could still be produced for a number of years for a cost somewhat less than a dime.
Who knows how the public will adjust to doing it’s commerce without a penny or nickel. Maybe we should watch how it goes in Canada. And that’s my two bits.
Tom DeWell
St. Paul, Minn.

A reduction in size may help for the time being. It may just further reduce the significance of the cent in people’s minds and daily usage. The thing that keeps coming to mind is what does the Mint do the next time there is a need to do something because of the price of copper? That is if there is any form of copper left in the cent at all.
Bryan New
Columbia, Ky.

I think we should just eliminate it. It’s time is come and gone, just like the half cent, 2-cent and 3-cent coins.
J. Marasia
Destin, Fla.

The cent should be discontinued immediately. They cost too much to make and no one wants them. I would have to say it’s time for it to go. It had a good run of 103 years. When is the last time anyone bought a piece of candy for a penny? That should tell you something.
The cost of the nickel can be reduced if we went back to a half dime in both size and design. Why not give our young collectors a chance to see history? End the Jefferson series all together. The Mint should also get away from using dead people on the coins they produce. All our circulating coinage should have the various renditions of Lady Liberty as is being done with the Presidential spouse gold coins.
It would also be a great time during that transition to get rid of “In God We Trust” since it doesn’t belong there in the first place. There is a separation of church and state and that line was crossed in 1863. It’s time that nonsense be removed. Replace it with “In Freedom We Trust” or “In Liberty We Trust.” Or don’t replace it at all.
The modern commemorative dollar and half dollar series should also be ended. It’s time to give it a rest. The coins being produced are expensive and the average Joe can’t keep up with everything the Mint is putting out. If the Mint wants to continue a silver commemorative series why not do it on the dime? The cost would come down substantially due to the reduced amount of silver being used for each coin. Then the average Joe could afford them. A good place to start would be the “March of Dimes” commemorative.
I guess you could say that I feel we need to change things up with our coinage, no pun intended.
Jayne Shelby
Hollywood, Md.

It is my opinion that the penny should be made into a 2.5 cent and keep it the same size and makeup that it is currently. Just a thought.
Dennis Ashcroft
Gallup, N.M.

Interesting question. The short answer is no, the size of the cent should not be changed.
That being said, there are many different ways the coin can be “saved.” There are about seventy-eleven squintillion pennies out in circulation, enough for every man, woman and child for near eternity.
Why not just quietly stop making them except for the yearly sets. If that is done quietly with no hoopla or fanfare, commerce will continue as if nothing had happened. But wait, we are dealing with the U.S. Government, which does nothing quietly. So as soon as the announcement hits the newscasts, we will have all sorts of “experts” babbling about how the world is coming to an end and the coin had best be hoarded to ensure the safety of the economy. The penny disappears from circulation and that is that.
Another scenario: There is nothing in the rules that says the penny has to be struck for circulation every year. All the Mint has to do is announce but not publicize a new commemorative cent, a la the 2009 Lincoln Bicentennial, then strike enough for all the 67 special sets it would create and forget about circulation strikes. The denomination would survive, the public would be none the wiser, and nobody would bother to pick up a dropped cent.
Bob Fritsch
Nashua, N.H.

I am amazed that the discussion continues on different sizes or materials for the cent. Since the production and overhead costs of producing a cent run over 2 cents each, we could make them half the size and out of air and they would still be produced at a loss. Nothing we could do in the realm of size, weight, or composition would affect this bottom-line figure.
My suggestion is the only one that makes financial sense (pun intended). Reduce the diameter of the cent to zero mm and the composition to air. By doing the same for the 5-cent coin we can transfer the production and overhead costs to dimes, quarters, dollars, and two-dollar coins (which will become useful when we stop printing $1 and $2 bills, as do the earlier-wise Canadians and Europeans).
John Wright
Address withheld

Well they could do away with the cent. But if not, instead of making it smaller, they could make it out of different metal and also put a hole in the middle. I remember the old Greek lepka that was made out of aluminum with a hole in the middle. This was their cent which was really worthless but they didn’t want to do away with it. It weighed nothing.
Mary Madis
Address withheld

I think that the government should do whatever necessary to save the penny.
William Johnston
Address withheld

Changing the size maybe an option. where is precedent for that. The large cent became a small sent in 1857. With the cost of making the cent and the continuing decline of the value of the cent it is only a matter of time before it is discontinued. That’s what happened to the half cent and it is a matter of time before the cent is discontinued. After all, the buying power of the cent is nominal.
William H. Brownstein

To reduce the size the U.S. cent if an alloy change alone will not be enough to save it is not at all a bad idea. Wish I’d thought of that.
Case in point that size doesn’t matter; I’ve never heard anyone complain about the size of our dime. So if that’s what it takes to save the cent, then by all means make it smaller. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.
Why should our grand kids be denied the opportunity to collect and save pennies? And you can bet that those individuals who would want to see the cent abolished, have stockpiled as their motivation, barrels of pennies just waiting to cash in on those future would be coin collectors.
Mercury R. Williams
Seattle, Wash.