Speaking of small denominations, Dick Hanscom sent us this BBC News article about the elimination of England's lowly half penny. Here's a short excerpt.
It's 30 years since the British decimal halfpenny was being phased out. Why did the UK hang on to a tiny coin for so long?
Before everyone gets misty-eyed about the bronze halfpenny, it's worth remembering how annoying Britain's least loved coin, notorious for getting lost in trousers and furniture upholstery, was.
People were commonly said not to bother to bend down in the street to pick it up if they dropped one.
"In terms of the coins in your pocket, it's useless," the National Consumer Council told the Herald Tribune in 1983. News stand workers in the early 1980s couldn't even give the unloved halfpenny away, according to the paper. "We've got a bagful in the till, and although customers give them to us in payments sometimes, we can't hand any out," vendor Danny Curbishley complained.
Chancellor Nigel Lawson announced the coin's demise in a written Commons answer in 1984, saying "most people would be glad to get rid of them". The Royal Mint stopped making them at the end of February, and it ceased to be legal tender in December.
But the curious thing about the coin is not that it was abolished, rather that it lasted a full 13 years after its introduction with decimalisation in 1971.
The Treasury's delay in ending the halfpenny arose from fears that if the coin was abolished, retailers would raise prices to the nearest penny, which would in turn contribute to inflation. By 1984, the government had got to a point where it believed so few transactions would be affected, there would be no measurable impact.
The Canadian penny was withdrawn from circulation last year because production costs exceeded its monetary value. There has been a long-running debate in the US over the future of its single cent and the future of the British penny has been questioned.
In 1984, not many people mourned the loss of the halfpenny. "The decimal halfpenny didn't have a long history. It was never top of the bill or had a starring role," says Clancy. But he says to dismiss the coin's value entirely would do it a disservice.
"The halfpenny played an important role in the important transition to a new currency system. It was a point of familiarity. A way of reassuring people things hadn't changed too much," he says.
To read the complete article, see:
Halfpenny: The story of how a tiny, 'annoying' coin was abolished
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: email@example.com
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster