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Community Voice Responses (May 16, 2017)

From the Apr. 21 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:

Community Voice0516

Should the cent and nickel be abolished?

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

Yes, please get rid of the cent and nickel. We can save the country about $40 million a year. It is a no-brainer.

If we must have a 5-cent piece, make it out of steel like the U.K. is doing.

If we have to have a smaller denomination copper coin, bring back the 3-cent piece. Maybe that way the younger generation will have to learn math without a calculator.

Steve Sproles
Bowling Green, Ky.

It is long past time to retire the cent and the nickel. We all know the two denominations have little value, evident by the fact that people drop them on the ground and few people stop to pick them up. The “leave a penny, take a penny” cups in the convenience stores are now filled with not just pennies but also with nickels. We all intuitively and logically know these coins have little value, but ending their production seems too beyond our political will to do at this time. Given that the half dollar no longer circulates, we’re left with only two circulating coins with any value – the dime and the quarter – and I could easily make the argument that the dime’s time has passed as well.

We lament that the younger generation has mostly abandoned cash usage, but we give them no serious reason to use it given the structure and value of our current denominations. We need to face the reality that inflation has destroyed the value of the traditional coin structure, and we should modernize the entire setup to reflect this reality. To ignore and maintain the status quo will only hasten the abandonment of coin and currency usage by not just the young but also by those of us who are a bit more mature as well. It’s time to update our money to reflect the current value of the dollar.

Eric Head
Knoxville, Tenn.

We should convert the Lincoln 1-cent to a 2-cent piece for approximately five years; high mintages with some limited special commemorative designs. Keep the Jefferson 5-cent with new composition. Convert J.F.K. half dollar to a bronze J.F.K. $5 coin suitable for vending, tolls, etc.

Begin a U.S. commemorative cities quarter program in 2021/2022: Wilmington, Dover, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Trenton, Cape May, Atlanta, Savannah, Hartford and Windsor. Mintages should concur with respect to population to invigorate the numismatic hobby without compromising demands for coinage.

Nelson Clifton
Shamong, N.J.

The 1-cent and 5-cent coins are obsolete, not cost-effective and a waste of energy in production and use.

Wesley Ellis
Portland, Ore.

Keep the cent and the nickel.

Ed Johnson
Towner, N.D.

Not sure about the nickel but the cent for sure.

In terms of pocket change, I keep virtually all my change and cash it in at the end of the year. I pull out 95 percent copper Memorial cents and all nickels – just because. I have been thinking for a few years that nickels will be pulled or certainly their metal content might change.

I have to say that the nickel is the least common coin I find in change. I am not talking about searching through rolls, just the change I get back when I buy something.

Michael Chazin
Address withheld

Yes, the cent and nickel should be abolished, along with the $1 and $2 bills. Start making halves to circulate again and also mint $1 and $2 coins. We should study what circulates in Western European countries and follow their lead.

Mike Thorne
Address withheld

My take is let them die a natural death if and when they are finding little actual usage in commerce. Much diminished use is not the case now. Let’s not make another and new arbitrary decision without some modicum of necessity.

J. Finch
Address withheld

In a word, no!

Martin Lawrence
Address withheld

It is very likely that there will be a small to moderate upward pulse in overall price levels if the cent and nickel are eliminated from our monetary system. I think that a much smaller cent (something like the old French 5 centimes dated 1961 to 1998) and some form of lightweight nickel-plated steel 5-cent coin should be tried first, before eliminating those two coins entirely from our system.

It is also possible that Treasury and banking officials could offer some formal program with a small premium to cajole the American people to redeem the vast quantities of 1-cent and 5-cent coins that they already hold to delay the costs of further minting more of these coins or the costs of eliminating these coins from our system.

Robert Olson
Springfield, Ill.

Yes. I think it’s time to stop minting them. If retailers want to price everything in multiples of 10 cents, they round the total sale.

Gary Werner
St. Louis, Mo.

And round everything up rather than down?

Postage prices would then jump at least a dime at a time, not to mention the cost of commodities such as food and clothing. Manufacturers would round everything up to the nearest dime; distributors would round their prices up a dime; wholesalers would round things up to the nearest dime; shipping companies would round their prices up to the nearest dime; fuel for trucks, cars, power plants, ships and airplanes would be rounded up to the next dime; and wages would be rounded down to the last cent!

Don Cracraft
Address withheld

No. Absolutely not. A penny saved is a penny earned. I roll my spare change in coins, pennies and nickels included, deposit them and use the funds to add to my collection. A mere $1.50 in pennies or nickels can buy a Very Fine Mercury dime. Assemble a Merc dime set in a Whitman folder or by the roll and now you have some great value. And it’s fun!

Besides, I also use my spare change to give to my kids to place in the Pushka (charity box) in school or hhul. It helps teach them the daily value of giving to charity at a young age. All of those pennies, nickels and dimes given daily by hundreds of kids at the school raises thousands of dollars in charity funds for the poor, hungry and destitute.

Robert Matitia
Address withheld

Abolish the 1-cent and 5-cent coins? Yes. The 1-cent should have been abolished in 1982 and the 5-cent should have been abolished in 1999.

It hasn’t happened because a small number of people control the Mint functions, and these people have been out of touch with reality since the 1980s.

The actual answer is to recall the current dollar and issue a new dollar which is equal to 10 “old dollars” – thus, making a new 1-cent coin that would circulate and have actual purchasing power. The extra benefit of this would be that new $1, $2 and $5 bimetal coins could be issued – and they would circulate since they would be lower “high-value” issues – making the new $10, $20, $50 and $100 bank notes far more useful for large, high-value transactions.

But nothing will change because U.S. coin dealers support the current situation. There are no collectible circulating U.S. coins, and it is killing numismatics. The joke is I have gone through about $1,000 of nickel rolls and only found six of the 2009-dated nickels. They are not rare or valuable but hoarders are pulling them out of circulation because, well, what else is there?

Bruce Peterson
Kimberly, Wis.

As an aficionado of elongated coins, I have an attachment to the cent. However, nothing produced since 1981 is acceptable to get squashed unless it is an anniversary or something that demands a current “stinky zincy.” My big fear is that once the cent is abolished, all of them will rapidly disappear, the squishing machines will die of malnutrition and the remaining coins in the pocket will be inadequate for the job. There are tons of the coins out there but for how much longer?

Bob Fritsch
Nashua, N.H.

No, they should not be abolished.

Kirk Scolari
Address withheld

The cent and dime should be abolished (not the cent and nickel), and the nickel could possibly be made from a lighter and cheaper alloy.

Keeping the nickel and quarter allows for convenient payments and change-making on any transaction in 5-cent increments, whereas keeping only the dime and quarter does not.

Eric Holcomb
Address withheld

There are also political advantages to keeping only presidents Washington and Jefferson, although I wouldn’t mind seeing completely new designs.

No. When goods are priced at $1.99, a penny is needed to make change. If the penny is no longer available, then the product will be priced at $2 or more, therefore increasing the cost to the consumer. The same would apply to the nickel.

Mort Fine
New Jersey

It is time for us to eliminate (not demonitize) the cent and nickel. While the existing coins could still be used or redeemed, the value of these coins has been reduced so much over the years as the cost of producing them has greatly increased. Round all purchases up or down to the nearest ten-cent increment.

People don’t want a pocket full of cents and nickels. In fact, people don’t like a pocket full of coins at all. That is one of the reasons why dollar coins still have not been accepted by the American public. While some coins are nice to collect, it is not practical to have a pocket full of coins.

Remember back before the 1960s, when silver dollars could be had for face value? Once in a while a silver dollar would be given as a give, but if it was spent, chances were that it wouldn’t be re-spent. Too big, too heavy, too much trouble.

In the 19th century, Americans had numerous small denominations that went away: half cent, two cent, three cent, twenty cent pieces. Now they are gone and only remembered by collectors...neat to collect, but not practical.

Yes, it is time to stop making cents and nickels.

Russ Sears
Address withheld

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.

• Any coin collector can tell you that a close look is necessary for accurate grading. Check out this USB microscope today!