Benjamin Franklin designed the first pure copper half-cent. It was issued by a private mint in 1787. Back then a penny could buy you plenty. Today they’re tossed in the nearest “penny dish” without a second thought. In 2006 the cost to produce a penny exceed its face value. The modern penny is made up of 2.5% copper to 97.5% zinc. The U.S. Mint reports that each coin costs almost 2.5 cents to make. Whether it’s time to say good-bye to the U.S. penny has been debated ever since.
Even though the penny might not have much of a future, it does have quite a past. When Teddy Roosevelt introduced the Lincoln penny in 1909, it was the first U.S. coin to bear the likeness of an actual person. And there are those who believe it would be wrong to abolish one of the most minted coins in history, and the coin that bears the visage of one of the United States’ most revered presidents.
When other countries have eliminated their lowest-denomination coins, there was no measurable economic impact. A couple years ago, Canada stopped producing its penny, deeming it a waste of money. Countries like Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands have done the same.
So while many love the penny, there are just as many arguments against keeping it. On what side of the argument do you fall? We’d love to know your thoughts.
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