TALES FROM THE DUMP: Collecting my two cents

You just never know what you may find at the dump; a place where people literally throw money away

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If there’s a 1936 “dot” penny in this pile, it could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. photo courtesy of Walt Humphries

Find a penny on the ground. Pick it up and put it in your pocket and you will have good luck all day long. If that is true, then I am going to have a lucky year because I found a whole lot of pennies at the dump and picked them up – a few hundred of them.

Think about this. Since pennies are no longer in circulation, they are becoming rare and hence more valuable with time. Someone just threw away what could have been their retirement nest egg. Even now, there could be some rare and valuable ones in the mix that are maybe worth two or three cents already.

Now before you dismiss this pile of pennies as nothing, think about this, there are wealthy people who collect coins. A 2006 No P, No Logo, magnetic Canadian penny is worth a thousand dollars. A 1953 Canadian penny with a shoulder fold on the queen can fetch between 25 and a couple thousand dollars at auction and a 1936 penny with a dot on it sold for 400,000 dollars.

If I find one of those in the pile I will be singing, “Who’s laughing now.”

I haven’t found one of those yet, but I did find a penny in the pile with my birth year on it, so that has got to be a double lucky. It proves the point; you just never know what you may find at the dump. A place where people literally throw money away.

I posted my find on Facebook and got several suggestions of what I could do with the pennies. The most common one was that I roll them up and cash them in at the bank. Who knows, I might have enough to buy a cup of coffee or a burger? However, the bank would just send them to the mint where they would be melted down and that would be destroying history.

Remember the old saying, “A penny for your thoughts.” Well think about this. There is a generation of kids now growing up who have never used or even seen a penny. To them the pennies would be rare and exotic. I have collected up a good stash of pennies over the years and when the time is right, I plan to donate them to the Yellowknife Historical Society. When the museum opens they can give them to kids as a piece of history, a souvenir and a good luck charm.

“If teardrops were pennies and heart aches were gold, I’d have all the treasures my pockets could hold.” You see, without the penny, we are losing some of our poetry. Also, it is only a matter of time before we lose our nickels, dimes and quarters because what can you buy today with a quarter. Maybe one gum ball and I am sure they will cost a loonie before too long. In our plastic world, credit and debt driven world, it seems money, all real money, is disappearing and that is not necessarily a good thing.

When there is an internet outage, which does happen, most banks and stores can’t carry on business. Imagine if our world had a real electromagnetic storm and all electronic devices and the internet were fried and down for weeks, months or even years. All your money in the electronic cloud might suddenly disappear or be useless. Suddenly, my horde of pennies might become really valuable. It might be the only hard currency around.
With the loss of the penny we have lost some other wise old sayings such as, “A penny saved is a penny earned” and, “Watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”

For governments we will have to start saying, “Watch your millions and the billions will take care of themselves.” And we should rewrite that beloved mantra to say, “A penny saved is not a penny earned, if at the end of your mandate you still owe a quarter.” Especially since Canada’s debt is approaching the trillions.

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