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Saying One Thing, Doing Another?
March 08, 2010



I have written that coins will be a viable medium of exchange beyond my lifetime on a number of occasions over the last 10 years. My assertion usually is prompted by the reports of their imminent demise.

But I am not blind to the current low production level of coinage at the U.S. Mint and the multiplication of uses of credit and debit cards in daily life.

It is not that I don’t believe more transactions will be handled electronically. More certainly will be. I simply believe that there are places and occasions where coins have their uses.

While I still believe this, certainly my own actions show the trend line for coin use is going down, even in nonelectronic moments. Another competitor is paper money.

I was driving on the Illinois Tollway yesterday. Beforehand I stocked a good supply of $1 bills so that I could get through the booths as quickly as possible.

Most drivers have IPass, which is a good idea for regular users. For the few times that I travel in that state, it is not a reasonable alternative for me.

So I stuff the $1 bills in my shirt pocket and pull them out as I need them.

In former days, I used to raid the coin container at home for tolls. However, the elimination of most coin collection baskets and the increase in tolls to even amounts like $1 and $1.50 have reduced the need for me to plan to take a quantity of coins along.

In all my writings I have said inflation is what eventually will kill U.S. coin use. It has certainly done a substantial job of that on the tollway.



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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, Bank Note Reporter 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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