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8th September 2003

The One Penny Piece.

Like it or loathe it, the one penny piece is in circulation. But do we really need it or indeed want it? Economics editor Evan Davis investigates.

The one penny piece has been in existence since 15 February, 1971, when it was introduced along with the 1/2p, and 2p pieces. Since then it has been filling the purses of people hoping to hoard enough of the coins to accumulate a more significant sum of money.

The coin is now worth less today than when the 1/2 penny was in existence. The 1/2 penny was wiped out because it was deemed unnecessary.

The penny piece coin’s design shows a portcullis with chains royally crowned, which is an adaptation of the badge of King Henry VII.

The specifications for the one penny piece are as follows:

Designer: Christopher Ironside
Alloy: From Sept 1992 - January 1998: Copper-plated steel
Weight: 3.56 gms
Diameter: 20.03 mm
Edge Thickness: 1.65 mm
From Sept 1992: Copper-plated steel
Pre-Sep'92: Bronze: 97% Copper, 2.5% Zinc, 0.5% Tin

But do we really need it anymore?

To answer this question, we looked at the importance of the coin in today’s society. Realistically, it isn’t worth much, just a coin to jangle in your pockets whilst walking along.

In fact, many people just save them in their piggy banks or glass jars, as you can’t even use it in parking meters.

However, in the last year the Royal Mint issued approximately, 456,880,000 one penny pieces, which suggest that there is a need for it.

Indeed, one use for the coin is for change, when you only have £1 and the item you wish to buy costs 99p. But is this really a good enough reason for keeping the penny?

Click here to send us your views on whether it's time to get rid of the penny.

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