Is it legal to use a US coin in pen-making ?

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magpens

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My curiousity about a new design idea prompted me to ask this question (see thread title).

A Google search to discover the composition of US coins turned up this article:


I hope it is OK for me to quote the first couple of paragraphs verbatim:

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"Requirements for a Coinage Metal​


The metals used to make coins are specifically chosen to serve long term. Coins have a purpose and some special requirements based on the conditions they will encounter. The metal used must thus have excellent wear resistance and anti-corrosion properties. Hence coins are usually made using base metal alloys.


Care should be taken to ensure that the value of the metal within a coin is greater than the face value. This would allow smelters to melt the coins and re-sell them. To counter this problem, coins are now made from combination of metals such as cupro-nickel. Cupro-nickel is silver in color with hard wearing and excellent striking properties, which are essential for the design of the coin."

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Now that you have read and carefully pondered all 8 sentences, does every one make complete sense ? . No prize for the first wrong answer !

And then, to my question: - Is it OK to glue a US coin to form part of a pen blank and machine it to the desired profile ? . Or is this illegal ?

It's OK to shoot me down if I should not even ask !!!
 
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maxwell_smart007

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If it was illegal, then the penny crushing machines would be entrapment...

So, while US Federal statute 18 USC 331 states: “whoever 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.” it's not the whole picture

I think 'fraudulently' is the key - trying to turn a nickle into a dime would be fraudulent - turning a coin into a mashed up coin is not. You're turning something of value into something of art with no intrinsic value. The issue would be if you tried to change a coin into a higher value one...

And they missed the word 'not' in your statement - i.e. "care should be made to ensure that the value of the metal within the coin is NOT greater than its face value"

However - in Canada, things are different. The Currency Act and The Canadian Criminal Code clearly state that "no person shall melt down, break up or use otherwise than as currency any coin that is legal tender in Canada."
 

mg_dreyer

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Been making this one and demoing it for years now ...

Crushed penny ....

Steam Punk Mickey Pen.jpg
 

Magicbob

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As a Magician this question comes up from time to time. It is my understanding tat you can do anything you want with money, as long as it is not to defraud anyone.
It is your money, bend it, drill it, burn it, do what you will. Just don't try to pass a dime off as a quarter, or try to make a coin more valuable by altering it's date, marks, etc.
 

magpens

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And they missed the word 'not' in your statement - i.e. "care should be made to ensure that the value of the metal within the coin is NOT greater than its face value"

First CORRECT answer !!! Sorry no prize, though !!! . But thanks all the same !! 😁

And thank you, also, for this :-

"However - in Canada, things are different. The Currency Act and The Canadian Criminal Code clearly state that "no person shall melt down, break up or use otherwise than as currency any coin that is legal tender in Canada."

I did have a hunch it was that way in Canada !!
 

Russianwolf

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This also comes up a lot in the jewelry industry.... all those guys that jumped on the coin ring trends specifically.

As Maxwell said, its legal in the US as long you aren't trying to defraud anyone. Other countries may try to come after you depending on their laws, but they have to catch wind first.
 

leehljp

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Mal, I see one potential problem beside the "not" issue:
And then, to my question: - Is it OK to glue a US coin to form part of a pen blank and machine it to the desired profile ?

"Glue" and "machine" are an "it depends" issue. How much machining will you do? Heat will tear glue apart. Take your time, keep it cool and the glue should hold.
 

jttheclockman

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I know several coin cutters beside Seamus that do it and it is sold on itsy all the time as jewlery. I use to cut dollar bills into puzzles but that got expensive so now use motion picture fake money that looks like the real thing. These are very popular at my shows. I cut all denominations now instead of just the one dollar which I was limited to. :) Cutting up a hundred dollar bill to get $20 is not cool.:)

Seamus did this New Jersey coin for me as a bet he lost when I bet him I could cut a quarter in half down the middle. He did not think possible well I showed him. :) I sent him the blank and he cut the quarter and mounted and cast.

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bsshog40

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Coins have been used in making rings, laser cut for necklaces and mounted in belt buckles, glued to bartops, etc.... As long as you don't counterfeit a coin, I don't think there is any problem with using coins for art. I have been a coin collector for almost 20 yrs and I've seen coins used for all kinds of things.
 

DrD

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As a kid growing up in Oak Ridge, TN, we used to go to the Museum of Atomic Energy and put a dime in a type of vending machine where it was irradiated. The dime was ejected from the machine encased in something with a clear cover and stamped with the museum’s logo - and it would set off a dosimeter. Not too too different that using a coin in a pen; and that was done by the U S government.
 

EricRN

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Coins have been used in making rings, laser cut for necklaces and mounted in belt buckles, glued to bartops, etc.... As long as you don't counterfeit a coin, I don't think there is any problem with using coins for art. I have been a coin collector for almost 20 yrs and I've seen coins used for all kinds of things.
Don’t know about the legality of it but I frequently see US dimes and pennies in cuff links.
 

alanemorrison

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I bet him I could cut a quarter in half down the middle.

John, if you don't mind, how did you cut a coin down the middle?
Alan
 

jttheclockman

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I bet him I could cut a quarter in half down the middle.

John, if you don't mind, how did you cut a coin down the middle?
Alan
Hello Alan, I used a scrollsaw and jewelers blades. Probably about 5 blades if I recall. I did it using my Dewalt 788 saw. I could have used any of my RBI saws too but chose that one. The key was figuring a way to keep the quarter straight and true as I cut it. Found out there is a lot of junk metal in them Probably would have been better to cut a silver one but they are worth more. I included a few photos. I also included a photo of a quarter on my lathe. The discussion Seamus and I got into was a easy way to thin down a quarter. This is what he needs to do when he cuts his quarters in order for them to wrap around the tube easier. The lathe method is definitely the easier and quicker way. Anyway he and I did a friendly bet and if I lost I would send him some of my copper wrapped blanks and if he lost he would wrap one of my blanks with a NJ quarter. We sort of both won.:)

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howsitwork

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JT

now that’s a smart idea ! I’d have gone for holding using epoxy onto a block but sandwiched you don’t have t(e heat issue ! Thanks
 

Penchant 4

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Once heard it explained as 'legal' so long as the 'defaced' coinage was not recirculated.

Also, since you are in Canada, legalities of using a US coin might well be a moot point.
 
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