Should Canada Get Rid of Their Penny?

Consider the lowly farthing: a quarter of a British penny, or 1960 of a pound sterling. For centuries, this tiny denomination of coin circulated in Britain for day-to-day purchases.

In the 13th century, when it was first minted as a separate coin (and not just a silver penny cut into quarters), a farthing could buy a chicken or a pound of beef.

But by the 1950s, the coin could barely buy a gumball and Britons had had enough.

In the May 4, 1953, edition of the Times, letter writer Leigh Vance intoned:

“Recently a bus conductor refused the eight farthings I offered him in exchange for a twopenny ticket. On another occasion the newspaper vendor to whom I gave six farthings in exchange for an evening paper became as abusive as if I had tried to slip him counterfeit coin.”

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