Round And Round

I got a 1940 nickel in change today.  Actually, the wife got it, and immediately turned it over to me.  Damn!  The thing’s older than I am, and in much better condition.  Did grandpa die, or did someone have their coin collection raided?  It obviously hasn’t been in constant circulation.

The word nickel, meaning a five-cent coin, came from the fact that they were originally stamped from the metal, nickel, when it was not popular for industrial and electronic uses.  Canadian ones have been made of brass, during WWII, and now only nickel-coated steel.  There’s a giant, twelve-sided, 30 foot diameter, 2 foot thick replica, built of nickel-containing stainless steel, sitting at a Sudbury, Ontario mine.  It was erected in 1951, to commemorate two-hundred years of digging nickel out of the ground there.  Google “Big Nickel.”

While shopping at one store, I thought about buying my Toronto Sun at another.  I pulled all the change out of my pocket, and almost fainted.  I had, not one, but two, American quarters, one a “State” quarter, although not one I needed for my collection.  I must be getting old, not to have noticed American money.  I always used to check my change.  I immediately placed them in our “going to the States” can, when I got home.

With the wife’s worsening mobility and allergy problems, I do a bit more of the day-to-day shopping, and therefore end up with more change, which I get rid of, buying my newspapers.  There was a time when I could tell you exactly how much change I had in my pocket, and what coins made up the total.  Apparently, no longer!

Canada recently stopped stamping and issuing pennies.  The Federal Government was good enough to use my tax dollars, to print and supply signs to stores, explaining what would happen.  Silly me, I thought it would be straight-forward.  If a bill being paid in cash, ends in one or two, or six or seven cents, it would be rounded down.  If it ended in three or four, or eight or nine cents, it would be rounded up to the next nickel.  It’s not like every store has a different system, but there’s lots to go around.

Canada leads the world in the use of debit cards; so, many of these charges involving cents are irrelevant.  Debit or credit card payments are always exact amounts.  The term cents is mathematical.  Pennies are the physical things the government doesn’t make anymore.

Stores will still accept pennies if you offer them, although one woman fellow-shopper told me of a clerk who insisted, “We don’t take pennies anymore.”  “You’d better call your manager then, because they remain legal tender for the next 6 years.”  Some clerks will still give pennies in change, if they have them in the till.  Most stores do the round-up/round-down thing.

The Real Canadian Superstore rounds down, anything below the next 5-cent level.   My $1.50 newspaper, with 8 cents tax, costs me $1.60 almost anywhere but there, where it’s only $1.55.  If I use one of the self-checkouts, I have to insert the $1.60, to get the machine to finalize the sale, and then it refunds me a nickel.

Pennies have largely disappeared from commerce.  A couple of Canadian banks have instituted coin recovery schemes, by setting up pinball-sized automatic coin-counters in their lobbies, similar to those found in many grocery stores.  The grocery store no-arm bandits have a lower pay-out than Vegas slot machines, quietly eating nine cents of every dollar, and returning only 91%.

The ones in the banks pay out 100%, which they hope you then deposit with them, but getting sequestered coins back in circulation (or, out of circulation, in the case of pennies) is the name of the game.

The crazy cat lady used to have a glass umbrella stand, filled to the brim with pennies.  The last time we visited, it was empty and forlorn.  She admitted that she had rolled all of her pennies and turned them in at her bank.  Next time I see her at the Farmers’ Market, I must see if she’ll admit how much they totalled.  It must have been about $100.

I still find the occasional penny.  I had accumulated five in my pocket, and got rid of them at the grocery store on a bill that ended in 80 cents….and looked down and picked up another one off the floor.

The grandson meets young people who somehow think that pennies cannot be spent anymore.  Several other young lads where he works use them to play penny-toss, but don’t bother to pick them up when they’re finished.  The other day, he picked up more than a dollar’s worth, abandoned at the edge of the parking lot.

Canadian or otherwise, what do you think of the demise of the Canadian penny?  Are you Americans ready for it to happen in your country?  What do the Brits want to get rid of, aside from the Euro?

20 thoughts on “Round And Round

  1. This Canadian wallet loves no pennies. Just have to figure out what to do with my penny jars.


  2. aFrankAngle says:

    Count me is on ridding the US penny … and I wouldn’t mind see the dollar bill transition to a coin.


    • Archon's Den says:

      You’re unusual with those opinions, Frank. Most people bitch about pennies in their pockets, and dump them in cans and jars, but the “keep things as they’ve always been” inertia makes them protest their removal. Canada’s also lost the farthing (quarter-penny), and h’apney (half-penny), but those disappeared over a century ago. People protested, but reality occurred.
      After more than 25 years, I’m still not sure about the dollar bill (and our two-dollar bill) becoming coins. The government saves millions, and our pockets and purses are ruined. Gain a Loonie, lose a penny – I’m not sure we’re ahead of the game. 😕


  3. whiteladyinthehood says:

    I’m not adverse to having pennies. I usually save them, though!


    • Archon's Den says:

      They’re great for saving, you don’t really miss a few pennies at a time, but many people saved till they had so many that the labor to take them to a bank frightened them, and hundreds of millions of them just languished under beds, etc. The son and I had two glass jam jars, cast to look like little bear cubs. I cut slots in the lids, and, instant banks. I rolled $8/$10 each year. I cleaned mine out, but his is still accepting donations. My “going to the States” can is from Coke, so old that it’s a ten-ounce, rather than the now-standard twelve. 😀


  4. Michelle says:

    I’d like to see the states get rid of the penny too (I work in retail, or else I actually wouldn’t care). But I hate 50 cent and dollar coins. But I think, job wise, that’s mostly because there’s no spot for them in the til. For myself personally I would much rather carry around 4 nearly weightless dollar bills than 4 heavy coins!


    • Archon's Den says:

      Do people actually spend 50-cent and “silver” dollars. I have some in my collection, but many folks don’t even know they exist. Like the one American two-dollar bill I obtained, because the clerk insisted to the lady in front of me that, “We don’t have a two-dollar bill!” 😕


      • Michelle says:

        Haha! Yeah, we get those on occasion too. Mostly I think people get them for business promotions and birthdays (kids) and odd events. I’ve had people tell me several times the two dollar bills came from the bank as part of some promotion they were doing. Which is just annoying. People just want to get rid of them so they pawn them off on us. The 50 cent coins are easily mistaken for quarters.


      • Archon's Den says:

        Like the Susan B. Anthony dollar coins a few years ago, that people put in parking meters and Coke machines for quarters. 😦


  5. Sightsnbytes says:

    when we were kids, pennies were like GOLD! you could actually buy five candy for a penny. nowadays, penny candy cost a quarter. Go figure. nice story. I for one hate to see pennies go. Pennies give my kid something to collect, teach him to be frugal with his money.

    We had this guy in town once, he had disabilities. His nickname was ‘the penny picker upper’. He couldn’t resist picking up a penny if he seen on on the floor. He would go through the mall and pick up every penny he could find. Of course, the mean kids used to throw their pennies down the hallway and watch him retrieve them. The last laugh was on them though, as some family member found his stash, and rolled them and deposited them in that bank for him. He had over one thousand dollars worth of coppers. The ‘nickel picker upper’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it.


    • Archon's Den says:

      Isn’t it amazing how quickly they can add up! Teaching to be frugal is still a good idea, but, like the grandson, I’ve seen young ones accept change, and then throw it on the floor and walk away.

      My disability is that I just can’t resist picking up lost/abandoned money, right down to pennies. I’ll build a post out of that. One of the “mean kids” at work thought it would be funny to glue several pennies to the floor at my work station. I’ve carried a pocket-knife since I was twelve. I hardly slowed down as they left the floor and joined my pocket. 😉


  6. I’m indifferent to pennies, generally. But I would be sad if they discontinued them, as they’ll probably do eventually. Americans are shockingly resistant to change with regard to their currency; multiple efforts to put a dollar coin in widespread use have bombed miserably. Partly because the coins have been so close in size to the quarter. If they changed the shape or size drastically, it would help a lot, but then I assume that machines that take coins would have to be redesigned. There’s always something. That being said, I love the British pound and 2-pound coins. I’ve never actually seen a Loonie or a Toonie, I’m sure I’d like those too.


    • Archon's Den says:

      We are all resistant to change, whether coinage or anything else. I mentioned Susan B. Anthony and her ill-fated dollar coin, to Michelle, above. I asked my Father to get me a couple when the parents wintered in Florida. He had to ask the post-master, who had tons that he couldn’t get rid of.

      When Dad went back the next day, there was a hand-printed sign announcing, “SUSAN B. ANTHONY dollar coins!! Limit: two to a customer.” He was sold out by the end of the week! 😀

      I have a “Round Pound” in my collection, but wasn’t aware of a two-pound coin. Must do some investigating. Thanx for waking me up.


  7. benzeknees says:

    Didn’t I read somewhere the Govt. reversed their decision & started making the penny again? Just recently. I didn’t know there was anyone else out there who saved American coins for their trips below the border. Hubby always had a huge pickle jar full. Back when the US dollar was higher than ours he even opened a US account into which he would deposit rolled coins so he could take advantage of the exchange. We don’t travel south of the border anymore because our daughter divorced her husband & moved back to Wpg. & now the coins are same value anyway, so he finally stopped a while back.


    • Archon's Den says:

      I haven’t heard or read anything about reinstating the penny. We can usually afford at least one trip a year to Detroit, although I’d like to swing through Ohio, and visit both AFrankAngle, and John Erickson. Frank drove across Ohio to visit John about a year ago.

      When American money was worth more than Canadian, I could claim it was for the exchange. Now I just have to admit it’s my OCD forcing me to take the orphans back. 🙄


  8. Jim Wheeler says:

    If I saw a penny on the ground I wouldn’t pick it up. Why not? Because I’m an engineer and I can’t help but analyze. What’s your time worth? If you picked up 1 penny every single minute, which is impossible except in a mint, at the end of an 8-hour day you would have $4.80 and a sore back that would cost $9.60 in pain relievers over the next month. 🙄


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