The first pennies were made from silver, not copper. Charlemange ordered that 240 pfenning would be made from a pound of pure silver. This is the root of the British pound sterling, although in the postwar era, the British switched to a decimal system in which 100 pence, not 240, made up a pound.
Knowing that fact, there are a lot of people who have suggested we’d be better off without pennies. Not A Potted Plant readers were asked whether pennies should be abolished in the U.S. This week’s poll results: 5 votes in favor of abolishing the penny, 5 votes against. 2 votes for “don’t care.” That’s a pretty even split on the proposal.
I figured the way to answer that question would be to ask yourself “when you see a penny on the ground, do you stop and pick it up? Is it worth your time to do something like that?” Personally, I frequently do, but not always. When I’m paying cash for something (which isn’t often, but happens often enough) I like to give exact change, and pennies are necessary to do that. But if the penny were abolished, that would probably be more of a convenience than not. In fact, I would kind of like it if currency was abolished altogether. It would certainly put a crimp in drug dealers’ ability to exchange value for their product.