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This Week's Letters (9/24/08)

Coin production is down. Are you using fewer coins in your daily transactions?
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From the Sept. 12 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:

Q. Coin production is down. Are you using fewer coins in your daily transactions?

I use more coins than before, not less.
In the past, change just got dumped into an old chest where it just collected. Recently we tried to move the thing. That didn’t work so well. So I’ve been sorting and rolling all that change, a rather tedious exercise I would rather not go through again.
In an effort not to end up with another hoard of change I now carry a small change purse. Pennies still get set aside because they are a pain to use. For something to drink with lunch I dump small change, nickels and dimes, into the vending machine at the office and use quarters to pay for my commute train ticket. I’m actually using more change than I collect now. Of course part of that is also an increased ability to use a debit card at the register and not deal with cash, bills or coins, at all.

Syruss Flyte
Antioch, Calif.

In this day and age it seems that I don’t use coins or paper for that matter. It’s plastic or nothing nowadays. By plastic I mean debit cards as well as credit cards.

Bryon Christoffersen
West Richland, Wash.

We use coins only loose, when needed only. But coins are better collected and are sold out. Therefore I am confused about the future importance of coins.

Punya R. Sthapit
Kathmandu, Nepal

Personally, I use more coins as I wash and dry at the laundromat, use quarters at the car wash, spend oodles on parking meters, give the grandkids bushels of quarters to use in the arcade at the mall, and just generally like to give correct change on purchases. I’ll bet that even the church would welcome more dollar coins.

Phil Buttermore
Chambersburg, Pa.

Most of my transactions are point of sale ATM cards, check, credit cards, and auto-pay for utilities. My payroll is direct deposit so I use the ATM machine to obtain cash. I’m sure these practices are common in today’s society mainly for convenience. I use coins for the newspaper and tips. Otherwise I save any change and roll it when it accumulates. Cents and nickels are worthless. I’d like to see the half and dollar coin circulate. They at least have value.

John Hamer
Bradford, Mass.

I think I’m actually using more coins in my daily spending but the situations vary. I still like getting change back, particularly 1 cent coins and quarters as I look to fill my children’s books from circulation finds.

Bill Wilson
Tecumseh, Mich.

I am living in a nursing home in northern California. I am recovering from a stroke I suffered exactly three years ago today (Sept. 12, 2005) as I write this. I have been buying the State quarters. Two days ago I placed an order with the U.S. Mint for the Alaska Mint sack of $25 in quarters.
I depend on the quarters to buy containers of soda from the soda machine at the nursing home. Recently, I started taking a special transit bus system called Sam Trans. It’s owned by San Mateo Transit System in the county I live in. When I ride the bus on my electric powered wheelchair, I go to the local library in Burlingame, Calif.
Oklahoma, New Mexico And Arizona have been lots of fun to spend on the bus. The drivers get a big kick out of me buying these coins.
So many people are so unaware of the computer age. Everyday I run into nice sites that are all right for the general public. I love the Letters to the Editor the best. And the Mint Stats. Then comes your Class of ‘63 as top favorites! Numismatic News really rocks!

Dianne Hardin
Burlingame, Calif.

I do not use coins for purchases. All coins received in change are inspected for “keepers” and the remainder put into a desktop bank. When I have accumulated sufficient coins to fill a wrapper, they are deposited in the bank.

Ben Delehoy
Findlay, Ohio

The only coins I don’t use regularly are my quarters. Those I save until I find something special. Saved $600 worth and bought my husband a TV and have used them for the slot machines. Great way to play without taking money out of my household account.

Chris Bellew
Summerville, S.C.

Actually, Dave, how I use coins has not changed over the last 20 years. Coins have such little value and essentially nothing can be bought with them that I don’t carry them. I use bills and get the change and as soon as I get home or to the office I put it in a jar. Then about every three months or so I roll the change up and take it to the bank to convert it to real money. It would actually work better if I would get a chit in return instead of the coins.

Jim Lawniczak
Cleveland, Ohio

I am just like everyone else and save every coin I get in a transaction. I have a glass jar and everyday I throw my coins in it to save for something special later in the year. Our bank has no restrictions on how many coins you can bring in. All my friends and relatives go this way also.

Jim Kusnierz
Southgate, Mich.

Good question. I was noting the other day that I hardly ever use any coins. Checks, credit card, debit card, bill pay, electronic bank draft maybe, but plain ol’ cash, no. I don’t even carry coins anymore, and don’t often have paper currency (insert joke about being married here). Just about anywhere you go takes cards, even drive-thru fast-food joints. Any coins I end up with I give to my kids and they gleefully stuff them in their piggy banks.
I think our society is trending toward a cashless system, which is the reason for decreased production of hard currency, not so much the state of the economy.

Ben Padgett
Anchorage, Alaska

I seldom use coins anymore on a daily basis. What I usually do is save them at the end of the day then cash them in once a month to build up a fund for coin purchases at coin shows or my monthly coin club’s auction.

Bob Barnard
Peoria, Ill.

I have lots of change hanging around the house, usually in a container on my dresser, I’d say about a two-pound coffee can full or so. I always say I’ll take it to the bank and never do.
I always try to keep a good variety of coins in my vehicle, and when I go into a gas station, fast food, coffee shop or convenience store, I always try to have exact change down to the penny; it’s almost compulsive. This way I get rid of change and have an extra dollar of paper money.
I hope some day that I will run out of change, but I doubt it. For some reason, more change keeps showing up.

Terry Beye
St. Louis Mo

I usually don’t spend my coins. If I buy something for a $1.10 and I know I have a dime in my pocket I will use it instead of breaking another dollar bill. I save my change at the end of the day and put it in a can. When the can is full I take it to my bank and get bills for it.

Byron Wood
Aurora, Co.

My coin spending habits have not changed at all. Being a cheerleader for the hobby, I always try to have an interesting mix in my pocket: recent State quarters, half dollars, new Jefferson nickels and dollar coins, and making sure the recipient knows what they are getting. I also use two-dollar bills and will occasionally ask a young clerk at the grocery, “Do you take Federal Reserve Notes here?” The most common answer is, “No, we just take money.”

Bob Fritsch
Nashua, N.H.

It’s been quite evident that something is controlling the flow of change nowadays. It’s difficult to believe there’s a shortage however, more like an increase. More errors at the Mint increase the habit of saving them for a premium. The dollar’s edge lettering having created so many errors that it has created a whole new field of collecting. The American Silver Eagle dollars started a panic buying spree awhile back with the mix up of unmatched obverse and reverse dies for 2008. Some collectors caught onto that real fast and ordered dozens.
As for spending change, I rarely do. I don’t carry it around very often, primarily at the market. Prices are kept rounded off to the nearest dollar or half as much as possible. It is easy for me to roll the pennies up and take them into the bank to deposit. Same for dimes and nickles, but for halves? What are those?

Kenyon Miers
Esperance , N.Y.

My overall cash spending, including coins, has been decreasing over the years as it has become easier to use credit and debit cards. If you combine this with the convenience of direct deposits of income, very little cash goes through my hands. Even fast food establishments and my local barbecue joint accept credit cards now. I only keep coins in a cup in the car for use in those rare occasions when they come in handy such as for old-fashioned parking meters and flea markets and such. Also there are some merchants who charge a premium for using a credit card; I tend to use cash in those instances.
Since my coin collecting mostly involves either old coins (pre WWII) or brand new issues such as proof sets that I order directly from the Mint, my lack of coin usage doesn’t really impact my hobby stuff.
Also note, even though my use of coinage is very low, I’ve managed to accumulate a respectable Statehood quarter collection, currently up through Arizona, out of pocket change. I’m sure that I can get the rest and the upcoming “colony” quarters and Lincoln 2009 set through my meager pocket change as well. However because of the scarcity of new Sacagawea dollars, I’ll probably have to get one from a coin dealer when the new reverse comes out to add to my Type collection.
One last comment. Even though I use very little cash, I’m against any attempt at eliminating the cent or nickel. This would tend to lead to “rounding” prices, which in reality only means increases in prices! In any event such rounding would be unnecessary for electronic transactions which do not involve the exchange of actual coinage. Even with a continuing reduction of cent and nickel production, the billions and billions already minted to provide sufficient supply well into the future.

Robert H. Ball Jr.
Detroit, Mich.