At one time our Mint (and presumably the Canadian government too) decided in 2012 that our pennies were a waste of time and money to produce. So that’s when the pennies met their demise, after being in circulation since 1858. It did seem like a good idea though, 'cause you couldn't buy anything for a penny. But even not too long ago, the humble penny counted for quite a lot in your pocket change.
Christmas is coming,
The geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you
The Colonial system was in force when I grew up in Zululand, and I still remember my interest in learning our English system of pounds, shillings and pence. This money system was very old, and came directly from the Roman Empire days. At that time pounds, written as £ even today, were from libra, shillings were s, (solidus) and pence, ( plural of penny) were written as “d” ( denerius). It was called the £sd system.
There were 12 pence in a shilling, and 20 shillings in a pound. Above all of these were something called a guinea, but those were about as rare as hen’s teeth in my home. I think they were worth 21s, and I guess that would have been useful to adults, instead of having to count out 20 coins.
The Tuck Shop
They were mostly contained in beautiful big glass jars - row upon row of them. You could either get two or four for a penny/cent in those days. My favourites were definitely the beehive, which was financially usually out of my reach, costing a tickey, or three pennies each, and a peppermint crisp, which cost the same, but was actually better value, because it was bigger.
The beehive was shaped like a traditional one. When you bit through the rich milk chocolate your teeth and taste buds met up with a deliciously flavoured white soft marshmallow. Once you'd sucked that off you were down to a maraschino cherry surrounded by cherry jelly. There was still another thick piece of milk chocolate below that, and it was enough for 3 economical bites. If you were professional you could actually carefully melt them in your mouth one by one. Then it was good value.
The peppermint crisp was another masterpiece. It had a red white and blue shiny foil covering that was absolutely beautiful, and indicated there was something luxurious and rich inside. It consisted of a lovely chocolate coating with crisp shards of peppermint inside. It had to be the ultimate.
You could get two Wilson’s toffees for a penny. They were bigger, that's why. Most off the time though because of financial restrictions, our selection was limited to 4 for a penny items. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Yes, there were rumors some people had actually stolen items from her during rush times. That was too shocking to even contemplate. I never found out if that actually was true.
It was against all the values my parents had instilled in us. Even today, and after several harsh experiences in life, I still cling to the mantra Honesty is the best policy. Somehow you feel better, on any given day, knowing you’ve not deliberately harmed anyone.
Celebrate the giving!
Christmas is coming. Those Salvation Army kettles are being shaken outside the supermarkets. Donations are down this year. Apparently folks are tired of giving a little to those in need. But maybe this is an excellent time to continue with the tradition of parting with your small change so others can be fed and helped.
Wishing you, all my wonderful readers and friends a wonderful and meaningful Christmas. Thank you, and blessings to you.