Transcript No. 1756
June 28, 1999
THE PASSING OF THE PENNY
By Ken Bressett
Government mints keep cranking out between nine and fif*** billion
one-cent coins each year. And the public somehow manages to hoard, lose or
destroy most of them.
There is a serious group of people who want pennies retired to history,
just like the half cent that went out of existence in 1857. Rounding
prices off to the nearest five cents, they believe, would eventually even
out the few cents' difference.
Those who argue to retain the cent say that purchasers will be cheated
out of hundreds of dollars when merchants raise their prices to the nearest
even amount. While the debate goes on, the government is conducting
Proof of a growing acceptance of the elimination of one-cent coins is
seen every day at cash registers. Cents are left in a dish on the sales
counter for customers to use or leave as they wish without having to carry
a pocket full of coppers to make change.
Are pennies really on their way out in this country? The most accurate
answer may not be in the government poll, but in a recent study of people's
habits in picking up stray cents they find on the street. Here is what a
recent survey had to say:
Seventy-five percent of all Americans will stop and pick up a penny on
the street. There is a difference between age groups, however; 90 percent
of those surveyed over the age of 65 said they would pick one up. Among
18-34 year-olds, the percentage dropped to 67 percent.
There is no question about people having firm opinions about the lowly
cent. If the majority opinion has its way we will continue to have pennies
in our pockets for many years to come.
This has been "Money Talks." Today's program was written by Kenneth
Bressett. "Money Talks" is produced and underwritten by the American
Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, America's coin club for over a
century. Take a tour of ANA's virtual Money Museum on the web at
www.money.org. Copyright 1999 ANA