The End of the Penny

Lincoln CentAside from substituting as a fuse, the penny stopped serving a useful purpose years ago.

With the cost of manufacturing a penny at somewhere around one and a half cents, It’s only a matter of time before the government gets religion and stops minting them. One economics professor estimates that the U.S. loses about $900 million a year in production costs and handling. I think ending the production of a minted coin is more a political issue, but prudent economics would indicate that anything costing one and a half times more to make than it can be sold for is probably not worth making.

The Lincoln head penny has had 99 years of quasi-useful life since first being minted in 1909. Celebrating the Lincoln penny’s 100th anniversary next year and ending production forever would be historically poignant.

I rarely take pennies in my change and when I do they end up in a container in my car, on my office desk or in a big metal bucket at home. That metal bucket is overflowing with close to 30 years of pennies, which I have been reluctant to trade in because I’m sure that there are several coins that are worth much more than face value (like that 1910-S), and others that are worth, well, a pretty penny. The face value of my stash is about $90, maybe just a little more. If you have a stash and want to figure out about how many you’ve got without counting them, try weighing them. 100 pennies average 0.58 pounds (pennies vary in weight because their metal content has changed over the years, but that number is pretty close).

I have no rationale for hoarding my pennies except to perhaps melt them down someday. Or maybe give them to my future grandchildren.

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4 Responses to The End of the Penny

  1. As a kid I made the mistake of polishing all of my coin collection. That devalued them. But they were shiny!

  2. ambrzpocket says:

    Question is…will they find another coin to put Lincolns face on it? Or will they settle for the $5 bill and say that’s good enough?

  3. John Meckler says:

    You need to check out http://www.penniesforpeace.org to find out that pennies still do have power. Through this program schools have been built all over Pakistan and Afganistan. The founder, Greg Mortinson, has established the Central Asia Institute, CAI, and through this program has been building schools to educate the children in those countries. His efforts have had a profound effect on establishing peace there. Check it out! And you will find the penny is still needed. Even if it costs more than it is worth it still has value in third world countries. And we as Americans can afford to keep the penny. Greg Mortinsen has been nomimated for the Nobel Peace Award and his book “Three Cups of Tea” is required reading for our Armed Forces in those countries. He has a second book, “Stones into Schools” That has just been published. I urge you to not melt down those pennies but to instead get in touch with Pennies for Peace and donate them for a worthy cause.

    • pennyfreebiz says:

      I’m afraid this posting by John Meckler was not fully thought out and I must disagree with his arguments. Any charity, and there are a lot of them, that uses the word “penny” in their promotional material or name is doing so strictly as a marketing tool. None of them trade in actual pennies, they trade in dollars and credit. They would all go out of business if they actually had to trade in physical pennies. Pennies are just to bulky and heavy to be sending around the world. Their use of the word ‘penny’ is solely to convey a sense that they are looking for just a tiny donation from everyone, that when added up, will accomplish lots.

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