The U.S. killed the half-penny when it was worth what a dime is today

Illustration for article titled The U.S. killed the half-penny when it was worth what a dime is today

It seems like every week there's a new argument to remove the penny from circulation. But did you know that the U.S. once had a half-cent? When the U.S. stopped making them in 1857, they had the buying power of over a dime by today's standards. Which makes the most excellent case to scrap the penny, right now. And nickels too, while we're at it.

The half-cent had a short life, as currency goes. It was only produced by the U.S. Mint from 1793 to 1857. The coins featured the head of a nameless "Miss Liberty" (one of the few females on our currency). At the time it was first minted, many Americans made about a dollar a day, and might have been able to purchase a pound of potatoes for 1.5 cents. But as prices went up, the half-cent was quickly proven to be useless. It was retired, and most of the coins were scrapped for their copper.

Like the valid reasons for removing the half-penny back in the day, there are many good reasons to say goodbye to our useless now-copper-zinc-blend friends in 2014. There's an argument that counting out pennies is actually wasting time and money in the marketplace. Lately, high zinc prices are driving up the price of penny production, so each one-cent coin is now costing us about 1.6 cents. Last year Canada wised up and stopped production of their own penny.


But especially when you look at the measurement of buying power, or the equivalent of what the coin is worth to today's consumer, the case for going penniless is pretty overwhelming. According to the Consumer Price Index, the 1857 half-cent would have been worth 14 whole cents in 2014 dollars. A penny from the same era? Worth about a quarter today.

So there you have it, not only the best possible argument, but proven precedent for taking a pointless coin out of our pockets.

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We need to get rid of the penny, nickel, and dollar bill, and release $2 coins. It's silly how nostalgic we are to keep around something as worthless as a penny.

Edit: NVM on the $2 coin. Reasoning: vending machines.