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Look North for Education
April 17, 2012

News that Canada is abolishing its cent at the end of the year might have startled some Americans to try to dispose of their sock drawer holdings before the end arrives.

Why do I say that?

Well, I received a 1994 Canadian cent in change at the Crystal Cafe yesterday. That in itself is not unusual.

What raised the flag in my mind is the proximity in time to the Canadian announcement and the knowledge that it is still too early in the year for locals to be returning from their annual fishing trips up north.

Naturally, a suspicion is not proof, but it certainly helps me get reacquainted with my thoughts about and experiences with Canadian cents.

It is a 12-sided bronze cent.

The fact that it isn’t round might surprise some. It was an expedient that Canadians adopted to save copper. These 12-sided cents were produced 1982-1996.

It did save metal. The longtime small cent weighed 3.24 grams while these weighed 2.5 grams, but because of the 12 sides the diameter actually works out to a slightly bigger 19.1 millimeters as compared to 19.05 for its longtime predecessor.

Unusual in my experience is that on the day I got it, the Canadian dollar was trading at an almost identical value to the U.S. dollar, so the coin was an equivalent value to a U.S. cent.

If I consider the metallic content, I actually make a profit on accepting the coin at face value.

I will never get rich either accepting Canadian coins or writing about them, but they are interesting.

The Royal Canadian Mint is a cutting-edge institution, so looking north from time to time provides an education – and that is enriching.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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