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Canada Soon To Be Penniless
Businesses are now beginning to round cash transactions to the nearest five-cent increment in a “fair and transparent manner” — but there are 35 billion of them still in circulation. There’s still a long way to go before they disappear from every day life.
Slowly but surely, 82-million kilograms of steel, nickel and copper plating will travel in patrons’ pockets to stores and banks. The pennies themselves will remain legal tender indefinitely, but it’s at the discretion of individual businesses if they’ll accept the coins. From there, businesses can hand them over to banks, who can pass them on to the Canadian Mint.
The coin’s last stop after the Mint will be a foundry, which will melt the pennies down and recycle the metal.
They should start showing up at the Mint in huge volumes soon, but the whole process could take years.
“We have never done this in Canada,” Mint spokeswoman Christine Aquino told the Vancouver Province. “We estimate three to four years [to get pennies out of circulation].”
The move comes nearly a year after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the demise of the penny, whose production cost came to exceed its monetary value: it cost 1.6 cents to make each penny.
But as it faces extinction in the pockets and tills of most Canadians, the humble penny is still in demand in some artistic circles where it retains significant value.
Renee Gruszecki, a Halifax-based academic and archivist, has spent the past year making a living through a jewellery business devoted primarily to preserving the country’s stray cents.
About 30,000 strategically sorted pennies fill Gruszecki’s home and eventually find their way into the accessories produced at Coin Coin Designs and Co.
Gruszecki, a long-time collector of lucky pennies, believes her pieces will help preserve a symbol that is both an object of superstition and a Canadian icon.
“The maple leaf is synonymous with everything Canadian. We all identify with it,” she said in a telephone interview. “Now it’s just no longer going to be present among us, so I’m saddened by that.”
The Bank of Canada’s Currency Museum has already taken steps to preserve the penny’s place in Canadian culture.
A mural consisting of nearly 16,000 one-cent pieces has been assembled at the museum to commemorate the coin’s history, said assistant curator Raewyn Passmore.
The mosaic, which depicts a giant penny measuring about two square metres, is comprised of coins ranging from the lustrous to the tarnished.
Passmore said the design was meant to honour a coin which, while lacking buying power now, enjoyed many years of prominence since its first minting in 1858.
“It was probably the most common coin in circulation at one point and probably the most useful for ordinary people,” she said. “We wanted to make a tribute to a sometimes overlooked coin.”
The penny’s current lack of value was the impetus for its demise, a point recently driven home to Canadians hoping to use their discarded coins to raise money for charity.
It was probably the most common coin in circulation at one point .Jeff Golby, director of charity bank Chimp Fund, launched a publicity campaign shortly after the last penny was struck in an effort to persuade Canadians to discard their copper coinage into the coffers of cash-strapped organizations.
A massive penny party held in downtown Ottawa netted more than 120,000 cents, but it only served to starkly illustrated the coin’s economic shortcomings.
Story here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/04/canadian-penny-last-day/
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