A fond farewell to the penny

Times-Herald Editorial Staff
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The Canadian penny has gone the way of Pluto's planet status and MC Hammer.

After more than 150 years in circulation, the Canadian penny is no longer being distributed by the Royal Canadian Mint.

The very first pennies were struck in Great Britain in 1858, composed primarily of copper — a metal which, as markets fluctuated, was replaced by zinc and then steel.

The demise of the piggy bank staple was forecast by the federal government’s announcement, during the 2012 budget, to phase out the coin because it had become too costly to produce.

Even with changes to the composition of the penny, the Canadian government said it was still costing nearly twice the value — 1.6 cents — to produce each coin.

Pennies vary wildly in value, with 1870 pennies comprised largely of copper holding a worth of 31 cents today.

The government expects to save $11 million a year by eliminating penny production.

There exists a special penny — the 1936 “dot cent,” notable because of the small dot beneath the date stamp on the face of the coin — that holds a value of $400,000, due to scarcity. Only three of it’s ilk are known to exist.

Canadians are being asked to surrender their pennies to their local bank, but they can also continue to use them, at a retailer’s discretion.

Though the government is asking businesses to consider rounding total bill values up or down to the nearest five cents, it has said that pennies will retain their value indefinitely.

Those of us who practice the craft of writing understand fully the value of the coin and will miss it dearly.

No longer will the phrases ‘penny for your thoughts,’ ‘penny-pinching,’ and the ever-optimistic ‘find a penny, pick it up,’ hold meaning. This saddens us.

But let us not dwell on the demise of the goodly coin. Instead, we bid farewell.

In the slightly amended words of the noble William Shakespeare, who doubtless paid for many things with pennies — good night, sweet coin: and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

All editorials are written by the Times-Herald editorial staff.

Organizations: Royal Canadian Mint

Geographic location: Great Britain

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