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This Week's Letters (4/18/08)

Do you think the majority who favor retaining the cent in circulation will ever change its mind?
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From the April 18 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:

Q. Do you think the majority who favor retaining the cent in circulation will ever change its mind?

I doubt if the ?cent forever? crowd will ever change its mind. The phenomena is not just American. I am in Japan now on business and they still have a 1 yen coin (aluminum), which is worth only about 1/10 U.S. cent.

Jerry Carr
La Grange, Texas

The desire to hang on to the pitiful cent is little more than a fear to accept the reality of inflation in 20th and 21st century economics. We all tend to stick with our familiar, just as I, now 65 years old, prefer to pay bills by stuffing a check in an envelope with a 41 cent stamp rather that paying via the computer, theoretically 41 cents cheaper. Or speaking with a real person rather than a machine on the telephone.

Steve Album
Santa Rosa, Calif.

Greetings. No, we will never agree to eliminate the cent from the U.S. economy for the very reason that it would be inherently inflationary to the entire economy and bad for the U.S. at large.

Charles K. Miller
Havertown, Pa.

I personally think the one cent coin is as important to the general public as the paper $1 note. Change is taking along time in coming. Collectors including myself like to see the Lincoln cent still in circulation. I hope it stays as long as we have currency to use in the United States.

Edward J. Moschetti
Pittsburgh, Pa.

I think the opinion is swinging to eliminate the cent, the 5-cent coin and the dollar bill. Especially when the editors of some of the numismatic publications in the United States and Canada seem to be favoring this direction!

Robert Lorenz
Mc Kees Rocks, Pa.

I doubt if those folks who want to retain the cent will ever change their mind because they have never experienced a centless America. I, (and everyone has who has ever served in the United States Armed Forces in Europe) has had the chance to see how it works. In the early 1970s I was sent to Kaiserslautern, Germany. Imagine my dismay when I was told that there were no cents anywhere in Europe and that all purchases would be rounded up to the nearest nickel. I had brought my Lincoln cent book along for nothing, but other than that the economy didn?t miss a beat and only the final cost at the register is rounded and not individual items. Actually I didn?t miss the cent at all and within a few months had forgotten all about them until I returned to the continental United States and received them in change. It seemed really strange to receive them, but then again after a few weeks they are a normal part of shopping again. If anyone (Mr. Moy) wants to see if it will work all you have to do is to take a look at the American military community in Europe. It works, it really does.

Neil Robertson,
Leicester, N.C.

If we drop the cent and use the next coin up (the nickel) that will fan the inflation fire even more rapidly. We can?t drop the cent as long as we have the last figure in the gasoline price shown in tenths of a cent.

Earl H. Neal
Jeffersonville, Ind.

I remain in favor of a cent piece, but change the content to a new composition that can be used at a cheaper cost for manufacture.

Louis Schain
Houston, Texas

If we had any sense, we?d retain the cent.

Sarasota Fla.

Being a collector of Lincoln cents, I personally would like to see them continue. Guess old habits die hard.

I can see that next year us collectors will have our hands full obtaining all of the different varities. Especially if you collect all mint marks including the S mint. Could be an expensive year.

Chris Bellew
Summerville, S.C.

I doubt it, seems like most of the people calling for retention of
the cent were the same who called for the old versions of the coinage, e.g. the Barber, the Standing Liberty, and were diametrically opposed to the new currency. However, once in place their banter seems to disappear.

Kevin Brady-Jones
Eugene, Ore.

I do not think the majority of people who favor keeping the cent will change their mind. I know I do not intend to change my position.

I suspect that the governments and banks would favor doing away with all coins and currency ?then they could keep track of all transactions, charge for the transactions and tax all transactions.

However, there is a large segment of the population that has no bank accounts. These people use money and bartering. Doing away with money will mean they will invent other methods, like during the Civil War or the Depression Era. The elimination of the one cent is just the first step.

Robert Maisch
Mobridge, S.D.

I your latest issue of the Numismatic E-news you ask if the American people will still support the cent as a circulation coin.

Please allow me to voice my opinion from a European point of view ? I am a Danish collector, and my hope is that the U.S.A. (as well as other countries) will retain its smallest denominations.

Locally, in Denmark, the 1, 2, 5 and 10 oere coins have been taken out of circulation from 1972-1973 and up until 1990-1991.

Just recently, it has been announced that our smallest coin value, the 25 oere, will be taken out of circulation this autumn, leaving us with only the 50 oere, 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 kroner coins in daily use. Meaning that only during my lifetime (I was born in 1971), roughly half of the denominations have disappeared from my national coin scene. Normally, the argument has been that their production in itself was to costly.

I find this a loss to future collectors, but as it may also be withAmerican coinage, these small coins have been the source of a number of phrases in our language, as well as traditions. For example, it has been tradition for many years that brides should pay for their wedding shoes in the smallest denomination ? a maybe frustrating, but still accepted practice at shoe dealers. And when someone understands something difficult to grasp, we may say, ?Now the 10 oere falls? ( ?Now he got the idea of it?).

Coins are a part of a country's culture in many ways, and the amount of varying, appealing and affordable circulation coinage may be the starting point for many a new collector ? no matter how much our daily transactions may be taken over by e.g. electronic payments.

The common European currency ? the Euro ? has lead to an increase in collector's interest in modern coinage, and I guess that one of the reasons may be the multitude of national Eurocoins and denominations, including the smaller one below 1 Euro: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Eurocent.

So for the sake of popular culture and to attract future collectors, I hope that 1 cents will still be around ? as well as other values, which may come under threat.

H. Lykkeberg
Aarhus, Denmark.

I think they should drop it!

Michael Fransene,
Davenport, Iowa

I think I have answered or replied to this inquiry once before, but, let me restate it ? not no, but hell no! Do away with the cent! It is a pain in the butt and an expense far and above any value the financial institutions that are forced to provide them will ever receive from their customer base, government or anyone else!

Steven C. Harmon,
Clovis, N.M.

If the current cent is eliminated there will be a ?new? cent ? the nickel. This is just inflation, pure and simple.

Blame it all on the 1913 Federal Reserve legislation. Now our ?money? is no longer backed by gold or silver, but by a private banker?s promise.

Put ?In G-d we Trust? on all our paper and non-precious metallic ?coins,? we need His help in these times.

Richard T. Crowe
Oak Lawn, Ill.

There are onl y two things that are forever: death and taxes. So I am certain that someday in the future we will see the demise of the cent. Hopefully not in my lifetime. If it weren?t for the cent it wouldn?t have led to four generations of numismatists in my family.

Roland C. Gauvin
Cumberland, R.I.

I firmly believe that due to the cost of producing the cent, it is far too costly for our government to keep minting. Even with changing the composition of the cent from what it is now will not be enough to save the money needed to help bring our dollar back to the price of a dollar or better. Lately, even Canada?s dollar surpassed our own.

We can still have the cent as circulating curreny as there are billions in circulation already. This is enough to keep circulating for decades in the general populous.

I am always finding pennies on the ground and at work.

I am a custodian at a local school in West Jordan, Utah. I have heard countless people say things such as, ?oh it?s just a penny," " I don?t need it anyway," ? I get too many of them from stores in change," ?what good are they anyways." I have heard these reports not just from all grades from K, first through 12th, but also from adults as well.

The thing that I do not understand is the polls that show the penny is favored. If they would poll the high school, middle school and grade school children, I am firm in my belief that they would get those same results. I have heard those results for more than a decade myself.

These are just a few examples of how the penny has become an outdated commodity for our society.

Collin Cagle
West Jordan, Utah

The cent forever ? I agree. As long as we deal in ?dollars and cents? we need cents. How else can correct change be made? Regarding the idea of ?rounding,? we know how that will go ? the wrong way for the consumer. We?ll just end up giving busingess and government another reason to raise cost. The best idea is for the U.S. Mint to periodically review the cents' composition and recommend adjustments as necessary to keep its continued production viable.

When we make the move to a totally cashless society then the issue will be moot. Of course we?ve suposedly been moving to a ?paperless? society for several decades and one can see the glacial speed of that idea.

Robert H. Ball Jr.
Detroit, Mich.

I would like to have the cent in circulation, however I understand our tax dollars fund the production of a cent that costs more to produce than its face value. I am OK with the current composition and size, and the color remains the same as the pre-1982. I am, however, in favor of cutting back on the mintage to bring forth the jars from the masses. Maybe a few "wheaties" will emerge back into circulation to spark young collectors. I still enjoy finding a "wheatie" in change, and call it a lucky day when I find one!

Bruce Adams
Green Bay, Wis.

In response to the Harris poll.

Well, in a democratic structured society the majority has spoken, then so be it. I remind myself this is from a small fraction of Americans with computer access that have weighed in and will not reflect the true opinions of the populous. As for myself (in the $35,000 bracket), as much as I adore our beloved cent I strongly feel it is the most opportune time for elimination.

To the psychology grads who price their wares at $xx.99 as if we are to believe it?s cheaper, we know already. That dog won't hunt!

Lets crescendo the 100 year anniversary to the hilt with special designs and alloys and leave it at that. I would suggest a gold plate issue for collectors. How fitting for President Lincoln.

Eric Barmes
Va Beach, Va.