Dick Johnson submitted the following thoughts on an article published this week in theIrish Times. The article is accompanied by an interesting photo of coin-inspired art - a portrait of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown made from pennies. -Editor A recent article in the Irish Times repeats a story originally published in the New York Times of one of Ireland's wealthiest landowners, Sean Dunne, stooping over to pick a penny off the floor in a pub.
“I am never, never too proud to pick a penny up from the floor,” Dunne is quoted as saying. “I know the value of money.”
But, really, what is the value of a penny? Andrew Parsons writes "An Irishman's Diary" for Reuters. In his recent column he comments on Europeans' low esteem of the penny:
"This view is shared by many around the world, and efforts to remove small-value coins from circulation are gathering momentum. Pennies are expensive and inconvenient, say their opponents, and aren’t worth the metal they are minted with."
He relates how Australia and New Zealand have dropped all coins less than 5 cents and that Finland opted out of having one and two-cent coins minted when they switched to the euro in 2002. [Two weeks ago I reported in The E-Sylum where Italian merchants are refusing to accept low value coins.]
"Anti-penny sentiment," states Parsons, "is on the rise among Europeans. A recent Eurobarometer poll showed a majority in favor of ditching 1 and 2 cent coins completely. Abolitionism was strongest in Belgium, where efforts have begun to have the coins withdrawn."
He gives further evidence for a nickel coin. (And relates how Joseph Wharton, who owned America's only nickel mine, talked U.S. Congress into converting to a nickel 5-cent coin in 1865. Wharton became wealthy and founded the Wharton School of Business.)
"Consider the benefits of abolition. The Government would save the cost of manufacturing and distribution. Since so many of them end up in vacuum cleaners or down the side of sofas and have to be replaced, 1, 2 and 5 cents account for 80 percent of the euro coins produced." This article is well worth reading: An Irishman's Diary (www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0115/1231738223519.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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