The demise of the Canadian Penny

The "KG" are the initials of the designer Kruger Gray.

The Canadian One-Cent piece will no longer be minted as of this coming fall. Being a coin collector, that all at once robs me of future “low cost” collecting opportunities (known as rummaging through my change), while providing me with a reason to hoard coins in the short term as pennies leave circulation.

I noticed that people recently have a negative attitude toward the penny. In this day and age, it buys nothing in itself, yet it fills out the total when buying something. Now, apparently, stores are being asked to round to the nearest nickel if the customer pays cash, but pay to the cent if buying on credit.

Something I didn’t know, and I believe many didn’t know, was that a payment for goods entirely in pennies is only legal in Canada for purchases costing less than a quarter. We have been producing pennies at least as early as the 1870 “large cent” coins (and they were big), and have minted over 30 billion pennies since. 15 billion of those pennies have been minted since about 1990.

The logo below the Queen's head on the obverse is the mint mark of the Royal Canadian Mint.

Canadian coins have only been made of fairly pure copper until about 1996. Since 1997, pennies have been made mostly of zinc with cooper plating. After 2000, zinc was replaced by steel.

Coinage is increasingly being abandoned world-wide. Many economies, such as Sweden and Norway have abandoned the Ore (analogous to our cent) altogether in all of its denominations. Meanwhile the Krona and Krone have increasingly become part of the metal coinage.

Coins are superior to paper money in that it wears out more slowly and thus lasts longer in circulation than paper. That metal is more expensive is offset by their longevity when in circulation.