A Melville author is looking to keep the history of the Canadian penny alive.
Susan Harris spoke to students at St. Henry’s Elementary Junior School last Monday on her new book Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the life of the Canadian one-cent piece (1858-2013) due out in October and her picture book Little Copper Pennies for KIDS which will be published in November.
The books give a detailed description of the history of the penny ahead of its departure from Canadian currency February 4, 2013.
“I am always creating stories and when I heard the penny was going to be eliminated I started to think if this penny could speak what would it say of its adventures,” says Harris.
“The penny has been here for 154 years going on 155 years. It has had quite a life and has been to many places. Initially I wrote a general reader for an adult audience and after it was done a librarian asked if I had considered writing a picture book.”
When Harris began researching for the book she interviewed a number of people from different eras who gave their take on the value of the penny throughout the years.
Harris says the decision to discontinue the penny was primarily based on production costs. By the time the Canadian Mint made the final shipment it cost the Department of Finance 1.06 cents to make the penny.
“That economic decision has been the driving force behind eliminating the penny along with spin-off benefits such as recycling and processing costs,” says Harris.
“The penny went from having a core of copper to having a core of zinc in the late 90’s and then a core of steel. Now it’s just a 4.5% copper plating on the newest pennies.”
Harris’ book touches on a variety of different topics on the penny including the significance of the maple leaf, symbolic meanings, its value through the years, debating on the removal of the coin and the implications the removal of the penny have on business.
“The penny is so historic and it has so much meaning,” says Harris. “Picking up pennies is something I never did but there is a debate on who picks them up and who doesn’t (in the book).”
Harris says one of the most historical pennies is the 1936 dot piece which has only three in existence and sold recently for $400,000. Another historical year was 1997 when the penny went back to being round after being 12-sided from 1982.
‘The book is a general reader for any and every age group,” says Harris. “The picture book is for children but it can be for anyone who wants to remember the penny.”
When the elimination of the penny takes effect in February, purchasing costs will be rounded to the nearest five cents, which Harris says is hard to determine who will get the most benefit from this.
“There have been lots of debates as to who is going to benefit,” says Harris. “Are consumers going to lose out or are retailers going to win based on the rounded up that will be implemented in February?”
Those interested in learning more about the book or making a purchase can visit www.susanharris.ca.