Will the U.S. eliminate the penny?

Debate circles Lincoln's coin after Canada drops the penny

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Last week, Canada dropped the use of the penny from its currency. Now there is much debate about whether the U.S. should follow suit.

It has been debated for sometime what to do about Lincoln's coin since reports show the U.S. Mint spent 2 cents to produce and ship each of the 5.8 billion pennies sent to banks last year, according to CNN Money.

"I think they should get rid of (pennies) myself, they are too expensive," said James Ingram, Chairman of setting up shows for the Sussex County Coin Club. "In my My particular opinion, I don’t think its worth it. I think it costs a lot of money."

Ingram, a collector of Morgan dollars and nickel and penny sets, noted that even if the penny was eliminated the value of the penny would not increase — that only happens with age and condition of the coin.

Taking a quick glance at parking lot pavements or trays at check out counters, there are pennies littered about — sending a sign as to how Americans value the penny.

Australia also got rid of its penny in 1966, when its value fell under its cost. But not all are in favor of getting rid of the copper plated coin.

"I would not be in favor [of getting rid of the penny] because I am a coin collector and pennies are usually the first thing people start collecting," says Sussex County Coin Club President Michael Dolan (sussexcoinclub.org). "I would hate to see it disappear because its something kids always collect. That’s how I started when I was 13 years old. I started collecting pennies and worked my way up to nickel, dimes and quarters."

Currently, Dolan is working with second, third and fourth graders at Marian E. McKeown School in Newton, N.J. to teach them about coin collecting. He has provided each student with a book and roll of pennies.

Dolan notes that if there was no penny he would not be able to afford to provide each student with nickels as it would be too costly.

"It would increase the cost of this program by five times," says Dolan. "I would hate to see it disappear. I know it costs the government more than its worth but its a part of history. The Lincoln penny has been around since 1909."

Supporting the penny's existence, a group called Americans for Common Cents (pennies.org) states, "[The penny] plays an important role in our everyday lives and in our nation's economy, and alternatives have consumer and social costs. Consumers benefit with a low denomination coin, with the penny helping keep high prices in check for millions of America's hardworking families. The penny also fuels charitable causes, allowing America's wonderful charities to raise millions of dollars.

"By contrast, eliminating the penny would increase spending for many federal government programs, causing inflationary pressures, and it wouldn't save money. The U.S. Mint has said that without the penny, fixed costs associated with penny production would have to be absorbed by the remaining denominations of circulating coins."

The next Sussex County Coin Club's Coin & Collectibles Show will be held Sunday, March 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ogdensburg Fire Department, 1 Firehouse Lane

Main Street (Route 517) in Ogdensburg. For more information visit www.coinshows.com/ogdensburg_sccc.html or call 973-534-3421.

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