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Doming pennies


#1

Does anyone know if I’ll get into trouble “doming” pennies, nickels,
or dimes to use in pendant/keychain pieces? Is this against a
federal law? I’ve made a few for friends with their birth years
featured, but it seems to me that there is a federal law about
"desecrating public property." Any ideas or opinions?


#2

Yes it is against the law. All money is government property. I don’t
know how they even get away with those ‘penny stretching’ machines.

I think if you were selling jewelry based on defaced coinage you may
get in some trouble.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#3

I see machines that stamp coins with various logos, etc., including
several at Disneyland that stamp Mickey Mouse on them. I’m sure that
there probably is some obscure law about this but it doesn’t look
like it is ever enforced.


#4

You’re not “desecrating”, you’re defacing pennies. I don’t think
there’s a law about money, until you enter the counterfeiting stage
(changing $1 into $100). In any case, people have been doming coins
since there have been coins. They are still legal tender unless you
destroy the strike, even though people won’t want them as such.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#5
If coins are altered for a purpose -- jewelry, and not with intent
to defraud, it is OK. If it was not OK then the machines than roll
pennies into souvenirs would not exist. 

U.S. Code is 18 U.S.C. 331 reads: “Whoever fraudulently alters,
defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales or
lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States,
or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual
use or circulation as money within the United States; or whoever
fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or
attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United
States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced,
mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled or lightened -
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five
years, or both. [Emphasis added.]”

Still sounds like something you can’t do, right? This paragraph from
the U.S. Mint website should clear this up: Section 331 of Title 18
of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who
’fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes,
falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints
of the United States. This statute means that you may be violating
the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently
represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a
matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or
altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such
activity absent fraudulent intent. (Source U.S. Mint)


#6

If you make a replica coin and pass it as currency–that is a
counterfeit and illegal. I have seen statements (recently but
where?) from the government that you can use a coin the way you see
fit – you own it. Doming is legal as is drilling or sawing or
piercing jewelry. but see:

Helpful Information for Businesses Interested in Altering,
Colorizing or Plating U.S. Coins: http://tinyurl.com/y9cg2o

and

http://tinyurl.com/yxn5r8

jesse


#7

You can do whatever you like with money…dome it, mount in jewelry,
or use it for target practice. The only thing you can’t do is to
spend it afterwards. I’ve seen a couple of vendors whose trade is
pierced coins. Wonderful saw work on the better pieces. Once coin, or
paper for that matter, has been “mutilated”, it’s not legal tender,
and can’t be spent. So go ahead and do whatever you want.

Richard


#8

At one time there was a law,don’t know if it still is on the books.
Do know that there is a company making machiness to flaten and stamp
other thingson a penny.

They sell them to places for fundraising. Like non profit carousels.
And with as many people cutting out the gold dollars, new Jefferson
nickles. To make earings and pendeants. One of the art jewelry
magazines just had an article on cutting out nickles and next moth
the plans for a vise to hold them. Besides the North Koreans are
craking out 100 dollar bills by the pallet load.

been there, put the pennies on the tracks, cut a few nickles!
glen


#9
Yes it is against the law. All money is government property. 

This is a common misconception. The law to which you refer is against
defacing in order to defraud.

SilverSorceress Designs
http://www.silversorceress.com


#10

Hi, Craig.

I think if you were selling jewelry based on defaced coinage you
may get in some trouble. 

Hmmm. ???

Even if it is “defaced” to the point that it is no longer
recognizable as a coin? I have (no, I didn’t make them!!) small
pendants made by running silver dimes and quarters (from when they
were still silver) through a rolling mill and then sawing a design
in them.

It is my understanding that the Navajo (and possibly other Indian
tribes) use, or have used in the past, coin silver for (some of)
their jewelry for many years. Melted down, of course. I have even
done
so myself. Which would be the ultimate in defacing. Or is that still
considered defacing?

I realize that this is not the same as “doming” a penny, but – I
guess it comes down to the definition of “defacing”. Do you have any
words of wisdom in this respect?

Margaret


#11

The machines to flatten and stamp pennies have been around since
forever, at the beach, amusement park arcades, etc. Shoot, I remember
those from wayyy back, too many years back for me. :wink: But I guess
people still want 'em. My son got a bunch made when he was little.

But the news about the North Koreans and the 100 dollar bills - now
that was news to me. Has anyone actually seen one ?


#12

as long as you dont try to pass it of as money. Money has to be just
as the goverment made it. Not sawed {boned} bent or miss shapend.

Don in Idaho


#13

The laws relating to defacing of coins were made in the days when
the value of the coin was equal to the value of the gold or silver in
the coin, and in certain periods to protect the image of the monarch
appearing on the reverse. These laws were repealed in Australia when
the “I promise to pay the bearer on demand” was removed from paper
notes. Forging of valuable vintage collector coins, or passing gold
plated copper coins as gold coins are offences in the name of fraud.
Coins here are no more than tokens or collectors items; if defaced
they are simply not valid as such.

Alastair


#14

From these two government sources it looks like it’s ok to be
artistic with coins as long as you are not trying to represent and
spend it as a higher value coin. The second Title refers to paper
money.

From The U.S. Treasury website:

  Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides
  criminal penalties for anyone who "fraudulently alters,
  defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or
  lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United
  States." This statute means that you may be violating the law
  if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently
  represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a
  matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring,
  plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no
  sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent. 

From the Bureau of Engraving and Printing:

  Defacement of Currency 

  Defacement of currency is a violation of Title 18, Section 333
  of the United States Code. Under this provision, currency
  defacement is generally defined as follows: Whoever mutilates,
  cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or
  does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other
  evidence of debt issued by any national banking association,
  Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to
  render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined not
  more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. 

Defacement of currency in such a way that it is made unfit for
circulation comes under the jurisdiction of the United States Secret
Service. Their mailing address is:

United States Secret Service
950 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20223.

Marta


#15

In Australia it is illegal to deface or destroy any form of money-
there is an ongoing case ( over many years) between the govt. and an
artist who was making collages of cut up banknotes.The artist now
exhibits the correspondence between the lawyers - the letters line
all around the gallery walls :slight_smile:

I know that we are not even allowed to drill holes in coins - if
someone wants to wear one as a pendant, I will offer to set it in a
bezel, but now that I think about it, it is still taking coinage of
the realm out of circulation, which is one of the issues that the
lawyer’s letters raise…

oh such fun to ponder the ways of governments,

Christine in sth Aust


#16

This is something of interest to me so I am going to call the US
Treasury tomorrow and get an opinion from them. I will post what
they tell me. After reading some of the stuff on here it makes me
wonder, but my understanding was that the US Govt owns all the money
in/out of circulation. If we alter or deface it we are doing
something to someone elses property (uncle sam). Granted, the feds
don’t have the manpower to chase down every single instance of money
defacement, and they probably could care less about pennies but I
think the fact remains that we are altering something we don’t
legally own.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#17

As far as the machines that squish pennies, (I have a few as
souvenirs) the text refers to some section, and explains it as if you
are doing something to a coin intentionally, and state it as such, it
removes the coin as legal tender, it is legal to do so. to alter the
coin and try to spend it isn’t. We got into trouble as kids for
putting pennies into our local “rolling mill” i.e. taping pennies,
nickels to the train track and looking for it afterwards. I found out
after I got older we were in trouble for doing something that could
cause a train derailment more that defacing coins.

this is from my somewhat limited experience.

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad
judgement.

Frank A. Finley
Salish Silver
Handmade Indian Jewelry


#18

It’s not like we own legal tender, it is issued into circulation to
facilitate the exchange of goods and services within society, and
since that is all good for governments they pay the expense of
creating and protecting this currency. As such when we mess with its
ability to attain its purpose we are doing it with something that is
not ours and has not been discarded (unlike found objects). On the
other hand a penny for instance costs more than its value to produce,
therefore if widespread it is simply a cost thing. Then there’s the
whole security issue and trying to keep track of where your legal
tender goes (from the perspective of governments). This last bit is
most likely why we can’t just buy some legal tender that can be ours
(for instance buying from the reserve ‘x’ number of pennies at $0.04
each and being allowed to do whatever we want creatively with them).
Risk and art does gfo hand and hand through the ages, just a matter
of knowing the risks and choosing to take them or not. Sounds like
the Australian artist is currently making lemonade from lemons and
power to them… the show that keeps on growing :slight_smile:

K. David Woolley
Fredericton, NB
Diversiform Metal Art & Jewellery


#19

I stand corrected (thanks Christine), here is an extract from the
Australia Crimes(Currency)Act:

  16 Defacing or destroying current coins or current paper
  money A person shall not, without the consent, in writing, of
  an authorized person, intentionally deface, disfigure, mutilate
  or destroy any coin or paper money that is lawfully current in
  Australia. Penalty: (a)in the case of a person, not being a 

body
corporate-$5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years, or both; or (b)in
the case of a person, being a body corporate-$10,000.

The above penalties also apply to selling or posessing defaced
currency. I got the notion that the above had been repealed from
listening to ploiticians talking about the act back in the 80’s.
Obviously this did not happen!

Alastair


#20

A few weeks ago, it was reported on the news that it now costs more
than $0.01 to mint a penny. Domed or not, the penny as we know it
will shortly cease to exist. I wonder what the owners of all those
"penny stretcher" machines will do now?

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL