Love it or hate it, the U.S. Mintsforthcoming 3D coinseems to be capturing peoples imaginations. And while we previously looked at the cool production methods behind making coinshereandhere, reader Dan pointed out that we were remiss in not mentioningDon Everhart, the U.S. Mint Sculptor responsible for turning Cassie McDonalds baseball design into reality:
Numismatic websiteCoin Newshas a feature up on Everhart, where you can see shots of him sculpting as well as the CNC mill they use to cut the steel blanks.
As for the rest of us who dont have access to such technology, there are DIY ways to make domed coins: Hobbyists and tinkerers use something called a doming block to hammer coins into sweet bowl shapes. Check out how the woman behind theEpbot Geekery, Girliness, & Goofing Off blogturned these pennies into buttons:
A jewelry-making blog called Rings & Things provides more details in theirHow to dap and dome metal jewelryarticle, where they show you this sweet necklace made from a Canadian penny:
This guybanged quarters into domes to pimp his yo-yo designs:
AndInstructables user Seadraggin runs down, step by step, how he turns quarters into snap buttons:
Its on that last Instructables comments section that a party-pooper points out the illegality (at least in the U.S.) of all this DIY fun:
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 under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
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Rain Noe is a writer and industrial designer based in New York City.
The statute you cite only applies to bank notes (paper money). The Federal Reserve issues banknotes while the US Mint issues coins.
I know this story is a year old, but I have to tell you that making jewelry out of coins is not illegal in the USA. It is only illegal if you change the coin and then try to market it as a coin. I called the Philadelphia mint and talked to a woman who said that also applies to paper money….
But they dont want you melting down pennies and selling the copper and zinc because those raw materials are worth more than the pennies are worth.
Typical government: create something that costs more to make than it is worth, then write a law to prevent people from capitalizing on the fiscal irresponsibility.
What Joe said: Otherwise all the machines that squish your pennies into ovals with whatever kind of landmark youre visiting stamped into it would be equally guilty.
Fear not, crafty DIYers. The statement about the illegality as stated pertains to paper currency. There are Federal laws regarding the defacing of coins for the purposes of fraud, however there are exemptions for the use of coins in art. From e-how:
Federal statue 18 USC 331 states that [w]hoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. The key word in this statute is fraudulently. To sustain a criminal prosecution for defacing a coin, the prosecutor must prove an intent to defraud. An example of defacing with the intent to defraud is removing precious metal from a coin or changing the denomination of a coin.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains an obscure set of rules regarding nickels and pennies. Code 31 CFR 82.1 states, Except as specifically authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury (or designee) or as otherwise provided in this part, no person shall export, melt, or treat: (a) Any 5-cent coin of the United States; or (b) Any 1-cent coin of the United States. However, the next section, 31 CFR 82.2, specifically allows that the prohibition contained in Â82.1 against the treatment of 5-cent coins and 1-cent coins shall not apply to the treatment of these coins for educational, amusement, novelty, jewelry, and similar purposes as long as … the treatment makes it clear that such treatment is not intended as a means by which to profit solely from the value of the metal content of the coins. Read together, the defacement of coins for artistic and entertainment is not illegal as long as the intent is clear and the consumer is not misled.
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