Friday, August 9, 2019

An End to the Penny

--Please put a penny in the old man's hat

--Ain't got a penny
--A halfpenny will do
--Ain't got a halfpenny
--God bless you!

So, here's a piece of English news with applicability for us over here in the States: the Royal Mint has stopped making pennies. Not that they've abolished them --there was too much of an outcry when they suggested that-- they're just not making any more. Too many already in circulation, too few actually in use, especially with people shifting to electronic transactions via their smartphones and other devices. They'll make more if and when they're needed, assuming that time ever comes, but this clearly marks a milestone.

The piece includes the astonishing statistic that sixty percent of all pennies only get used once, presumably before vanishing into a drawer or change jar.

Something of the same thing can be seen happening over here, where the cent* is now worth so little that most make their way into tip jars and I've even seen people who don't even bother to pick one up when it drops to the floor. And so far as I can tell belief in the 'lucky penny' is dying out. In practical terms, they cd simplify our coinage by dropping the cent and nickel together and let us get by with just the dime and quarter.

The coin collector in me is sad, considering how the cent and half-cent were among the first and most important US coinage (along with the dime and half-dime). The half-dime and half-cent vanished long ago. Despite the Lincoln lobby it's time for the cent and nickel to follow, perhaps into commemorative status or an array of ever-changing limited run designs, like they did with the quarters.

Here's the link:

--John R.

*we call them 'penny' and 'cent' interchangeably but they're really cents, not pennies.


Wurmbrand said...

"The piece includes the astonishing statistic that sixty percent of all pennies only get used once."

This was ascertained how? I wonder.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Wurmbrand

I have no idea. I assume they know how many pennies they mint and have a good idea how many are in circulation, with whatever's left over going down a black hole.

Surprisingly enough, it was the charities they most strongly oppose elimination of small change over there; suspect it'd be the same over here. But the switch to electronic money cuts down on that too I shd think.

--John R.