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Community Voice Responses (Jan. 2, 2018)

From the Dec. 8 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:


Is the U.S. cent under serious threat of abolition?

Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.

Perhaps the penny coin should be in jeopardy, but every time that subject comes up, the Mint is inundated with protests and the idea falls silent yet again ...

Thank you for the interesting insights in your column.

Wally Newton
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Many world countries have long ago done away with their lowest value coin, mostly to save production and material costs to produce them. Another reason this has happened in some countries is simple world devaluation of their money, one example being the Philippines. One time the Philippine piso held an exchange rate of 8 P to 1 U.S. dollar. They had all coinage from the 1 sentimo, 5 sentimo, 10 sentimo, 25 sentimo, 50 sentimo, 1 piso , 5 piso. These were part of the daily money/coin usage. Not so true now.

Over the years there were metal changes, downsizing of the coins and then they started to delete from production due to cost of the item relating to the face value of the coin.

Back in the late 1970s to the early 1980s, the piso had a value of 12.5 cents. Today it has a value just under 2 cents.

Yes it is time the “penny” was deleted as a form of exchange, but I would still love to see it remain part of Mint production sets, mint sets and proof sets.

Johnny Trigg
Mary Esther, Fla.

Strike 1-cent planchets as a retro 2-cent piece with Jefferson’s portrait/Monticello; redesign the 5-cent nickel with Lincoln/Gettysburg reverse (also time for a $5 Lincoln coin using half dollar planchets; retire the J.F.K. half.)

Fed should cease $1 and $5 notes.

Nelson K. Clifton
Shamong, N.J.

It costs more than face value to mint, it has no purchasing power anymore and there are over five billion minted yet few have them in their pockets or purses. Time to go.

Wesley Ellis
Portland, Ore.

As for your question about the elimination of the cent, I sure hope it will be eliminated. I do pick up the occasional one that I run across. One of the best places to find cents is a local car wash. I think when people are cleaning the junk out of their cars, they consider loose cents as just more junk to be thrown away. The nickel is also worth eliminating along with the $1 and $2 bills. If that happened, then $1 and $2 coins would circulate, and I might start carrying change again.

Mike Thorne
Starkville, Miss.

Not time yet! Since 1857 it’s the only denomination that can’t be created by adding together two other coins.

Iric Fox
Pasadena, Texas

The Lincoln cent was one of my first loves in collecting. Like most of us, as a kid, I could find lots of interesting cents in my Father’s change or searching through his jars of pennies. Enough to fill most of a Lincoln Cent album at any rate. (And yes, I use those terms interchangeably...cents - pennies, get over it!)

Over the years, my collecting tastes have changed, but there is always that nostalgia for the Lincoln cent. However, if you look hard at the arguments for and against, you might have a hard time holding onto the Lincoln cent as required coinage.

We need the cent for commerce: Not really...I spent six years in Germany during the 1980s (US Army) without the cent. The Post Exchange and Commissary system over there did not use cents; they would round up or down to the nearest nickel on your total purchase, and this worked out just fine. No one (or very few, at any rate) really wants a bunch of pennies in change, and if we can save a few million dollars a year by not minting them, so much the better. Bonus: If we eliminate the cent, we can also eliminate the One Dollar Bill, as the merchants can use the “cents” space in their tills for dollar coins!

We need the cent to keep coin collecting alive: Just like Silver Dollars, right? I don’t think we should demonetize the cent, but we certainly don’t need to keep them in production to make them collectible. In fact, once word got out that the cent is going away, there would likely be quite a bit of hoarding, which might turn into active collecting down the road.

Bottom line: yes, I love the old Lincoln cent, but no, I don’t think we as a nation need to keep pumping them out by the billions per year at considerable cost to the government.

Final test of your resolve: do you bend down to pick up a penny you see in a parking lot or on the sidewalk? Personally, I worry more about throwing my back out than gaining a whole cent (although I will still pick up a nickel or a dime!).

Just something to think about.

Steven Strukel
Lansing, Kan.

Yes, soon it will be gone, and that is okay for collectors. Those cents we are holding will be worth more when they are no longer minted.

Next it will be the nickel, unless they find a cheaper way to produce it.

Mary Madis
Address withheld

Yes, I am in favor of this, to a point. I had lived in The Netherlands for almost 5 years. The 1 and 2 euro cent doesn’t circulate here. In other European countries, it does. Personally, I grew accustomed to not using these denominations. Yes, the round up and down did apply in prices, but only if cash were paid. Debit and credit cards obviously were left alone.

On this side of the pond, I do believe the same can apply. Think of the tax dollars saved in shipping and minting costs. A bi-metal $2 coin can circulate easily, like in Canada. Eliminating the $1 bill can also be done since we also have a $1 coin. Savings on both of these denominations can be going elsewhere.

Lastly, the one cent coin can still be minted for proof and mint sets only. Since a “fee” is paid by the person ordering sets, no shipping to taxpayers! Just my view on this (again).

Gary Kess
Sherman, Texas

Yes, I am in favor of this, to a point. Mintage of the cent should have been terminated in 1982, instead of changing the composition. There is nothing you can buy for one cent. In California, about the only object you can buy even for a dime is a paper bag in a supermarket.

The arguments against termination are all bogus and seem to be politically motivated.

Tom Miller
Santa Rosa, Calif.

Not only is the cent under threat, but all coins and currency are under threat of abolition as the banks push for all electronic transactions.

The main reason to get rid of the cent is to save the cost of production and distribution of a low-value coin. With electronic transactions, the cost to maintain the cent is nil. If physical money is eliminated, the cent need not be abolished.

The problem with abolishing coin and currency, of course, centers around convenience and loss of privacy.

As Puerto Rico has learned, without electricity, electronic commerce is impossible. Coins and currency enable commerce to continue without interruption.

With all electronic transactions, banks save money by not having to handle cash and also get a percentage of each transaction. But the consumer loses in paying the fees and the loss of privacy as every transaction can be scrutinized by a probing government. How does someone survive a government asset seizure in an all electronic environment?

Identity theft can wipe out all of one’s electronic assets. Without any cash, how does one regain liquidity?

Bruce R Frohman
Modesto Calif.

The present cent coins will not withstand circulation because they are susceptible to chemicals and because of the poor coining in the dies. Just my opinion. Nothing was better than our copper style.

Bob DuBe
Address withheld

It should be. As taxpayers, it is costing us millions of dollars annually to subsidize its production.

Why, since almost every merchant has either a penny jar, or rounds to the nickel?

It has no purchasing power. We are wasting millions for the sake of nostalgia.

Lorne La Vertu
Address withheld

It’s done.

Dominic Carri
Address withheld

I am sure they will quit making the cent because of the cost.

Roger Anderson
Address withheld

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