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How to make a penny


All this, incidentally, costs two cents per penny.

(Picture from Encyclopedia Britannica, and via Austin Frakt.)

By Ezra Klein  | October 22, 2010; 3:36 PM ET
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In high school 35 years ago, we used to take pennies and leave them in Aqua Regia for a while until they became the size of dimes.

Then we used the pennies in vending machines that sold pens for 10 cents. What an ROI!

Unfortunately, now all machines look at weight and not just size.

Posted by: stevie314 | October 22, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Shouldn't we be looking into cheaper pennies, and shouldn't we be finding ways to reduce our dependence on pennies? Start with Wal-Mart; what if they decided they would no longer deal with pennies, and all purchase totals would be rounded up or down to the nearest five cents? How many pennies could be taken out of circulation, and how much money would this save the U.S. Mint?

Posted by: toastie | October 22, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

There have been pushes to remove the penny and switch to rounding transactions but they've generally been opposed by Congressmen (both parties) from states that either make pennies or produce the materials used in them.

There are plenty of countries that have no problem doing the rounding. I ran into it in Denmark - cash purchases get rounded up or down, debit/credit purchases are done exactly.

Posted by: lol-lol | October 22, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

That diagram is missing a few very important steps outside of the manufacturing process, most notably the lobbying and contributions from the zinc industry, which is one of the main defenders of the worthless coin.

Over at Freakonomics at the NYT, Daniel Hamermesh had an interesting idea to get around the zinc lobby's devotion to the penny: use zinc in a (yet another) dollar coin.

Posted by: meander510 | October 22, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

The US should get rid of the penny, Australia does not have pennies , its nice not to deal with them ! It is a huge waste of time and energy .

Posted by: sligowoman | October 22, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Making the 1¢ coin not only wastes the 1.7¢ it takes to make, but the transportation costs to ship them and the 2 seconds per cash transaction to handle them at the cash register.

It is unbelievable that, in this economy, we would continue wasting taxpayers' money and time making a coin that is useless.

It would not be practical to make the dollar coin out of zinc because that would change the metallic composition of the coin which would then require all vending machines to be changed to recognize the new coin.

Get rid of the 1¢ coin and the $1 bill and our pockets will be lighter and we'll save both time and money.

Posted by: PaulRAnderson | October 25, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

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