The Death of The Penny
The diameter of the penny as we know it is 19.05mm. This is relatively small compared to the rest of the denominations in the U.S coinage. For 163 years this has been the size of the small cent as it's known. Starting in 1856 the U.S small cent was the current size and the obverse was a flying eagle and the reverse was a wreath with a shield and it depicted the text of "ONE CENT". This design only lasted 3 years. 1856-1858. The first year of issue only made about 2,000 coins.
Starting from 1859 it depicted an Indian with a headband that said "Liberty" and it depicted almost the same reverse as the flying eagle cent. Then came 1909. 1909 was an interesting year. You had Indian head cents in the final year of issue, but we also had an obverse that would last a century.
The year is 1909 and the Lincoln cent was introduced. Everybody wanted some of these new cents. Banks had to limit the distribution because people would buy all of them. Something happened. Victor David Brenner marked his initials on the wheat reverse. People who bought the coins felt like he was taking to much credit, as they felt designing the penny should've been good enough recognition.
In 1910, the VDB on the reverse was removed. The penny was left this way until 1959. 1959 saw the first change of the reverse. It changed from the wheat reverse to the memorial reverse. Also, with the evolution of technology, more of these cents could be produced. They weren't as popular initially because people had been stuck with the same obverse for the past 50 years. More and more of these were produced and soon in the early 2000's you could find a wheat reverse if you were lucky.
2009 witnessed the production of 5 new reverses to mark Lincoln's 200th birthday. After 2009, the mint produced shield cents. These were produced by the billions. 4B+ were made every year at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.
With the extensive history of the penny, who would want to get rid of it? Answer? A lot of people. Back in 1909, a penny was worth the cost of copper. A penny in 1909 would cost 27 cents (adjusted for inflation). This was worth it because copper was a lot cheaper than the value of the penny.
We have tried to save the penny. 1982 saw the first copper plated zinc pennies. This cut the price of a single cent down from 11.2 cents to 3.2 cents. This was a good move, however, we all predicted that this would become an issue. 1 cent is not 3.2 cents. This means that the government is paying 3.2x the face value of the currency they are making in 1 cent coinage.
You are paying taxes which means a small portion of it is going to the mint. You don't want people wasting your money.
Well, I've found a problem, now time for the solution. I think we should stop production of the penny but, we should not pull them out of circulation. They will phase out as time goes on. Besides, when the mint has tried taking coins out of circulation, it has failed. Take Morgan dollars as an example, The mint ordered millions of morgans to be melted and people ended up hiding them to make sure that the mint didn't seize them.
Back in the 1800's we needed pennies, but now in 2019 we don't need them like we use to. I hope you think about this topic some more. Thank you for reading.