Defacing U.S. Currency for Art is illegal

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Original Post

I recently had it pointed out to me while wearing a coin that had been drilled, that it is illegal to deface U.S. currency in any way that makes it no longer usable. Calling it "art" does not make it ok. It literally is a federal offense.

I have seen Etsy shops with birth year pennies listed.
Pennies that have been stamped with a name, and drilled to hang from a cord.
A big No No.
I came home and did some research after I was told, and also spoke with someone at my bank.
It is illegal, the govt. takes it very seriously.
And it is regulated by the secret service.
I don't think I want to go to jail for a penny.

Here is more info. as well:

Posted at 12:43 am May 29, 2009 EDT


De-facing is illegal, but you can buy round (penny, dime, nickel and quarter) sterling and gold screw frames to place the coin inside and then the top screws down to secure the coin. These frames are found in lapidary supply magazines like Rio Grande.

Posted at 12:45 am May 29, 2009 EDT

I don't know about all of that, I was just told that if the coin was no longer able to be put in circulation because it was "defaced", that it was illegal.

Posted at 12:47 am May 29, 2009 EDT

Actually, it is NOT illegal to use coins in jewelry, provided that you are not FRAUDULENTLY misrepresenting the currency as something that it is not... If you drill a hole in a quarter and say it is a quarter on a necklace - you should be OK... Even some high class jewelry stores in malls have cufflinks & stuff with coins set in them...
As follows....

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.

Posted at 12:49 am May 29, 2009 EDT

Hmm, in that case it's probably illegal to squish quarters on the train tracks, punch a hole, and then wear them on a necklace. I'll just have to keep mine hidden while I'm walking near the police. =)

Posted at 12:50 am May 29, 2009 EDT

So are all the penny squishing machines that you find in theme parks and at resort places just not legal? Somehow I think someone would have gotten busted for that already if laws were broken-- like the owners of the machines.

According to flaunt's post-- they shouldn't be illegal.

Posted at 12:55 am May 29, 2009 EDT

Try the US Mint website. I checked there for information and it is very informative about defacing money. If it was illegal, then all the penny squishing machines in theme parks would be gone. I still see them all over, the ones that stamp the theme park name on them. Heck, even DISNEYLAND has them.

Posted at 12:57 am May 29, 2009 EDT

I am just sharing what I was told, and read online.
People will have to decide for themselves what info to take into regard. I am not a lawyer, I simply had it mentioned to me and it was agreed to by a bank employee.
The info online regarding it seemed to support it as well.
I didn't post this to be attacked, etc.

Posted at 12:58 am May 29, 2009 EDT

eatsdessertfirst-- I wasn't attacking. Sorry if it seemed that way.

Posted at 1:00 am May 29, 2009 EDT

Tissage says

EatsDessertFirst says:

I didn't post this to be attacked, etc

I don't think anyone is attacking you. They are just sharing that they have different information.

Posted at 1:01 am May 29, 2009 EDT

Unfollow username?

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