Using old and/or foriegn coins in jewelry. Can I?

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Billy Z wrote
on Jun 5, 2008 9:08 AM

 I'm not sure of the legalities of using them or drilling holes in them. I have a bunch of old European coins from before all of the main countries started using the same coinage, as well as a bunch of more recent Canadian and Mexican coins.

 I know that here in the US, there are laws against defacing and/or destroying paper and coin monies, but I have seen tons of people at flea markets, craft fairs, and the like selling jewelry made from US coins. There are also machines all over the beach that you put pennies in and they are flattened and stamped with the name of said  arcade/resort on them.

 So, apparantly someone isn't watching too hard here, but I don't want to get into anything that I can't get out of. Nowutimeen?

 Any info and/or comments and suggestions on what to do wiht them would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. ;o)

 I yam wut I yam and dats all wut I yam. ~Popeye~

Dragonfly Jewelry Designs - ArtFire Artisan Studio


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SCB1 wrote
on Jun 7, 2008 1:37 PM

You know I have seen the machines that press pennies into different things also. Infact although I can't remember what it press into it I do remember where we were at when I first saw one of these machines. We were at the USAF museum at Eglin AFB, FL. Now seening Eglin AFB is on Federal land I guess maybe there is nothing wrong with this practice.  As far as using  old Eueropean money I can't see the problem with that since they have all changed their money to The Euro. But then again I am am only assuming and you know what that means when it come right down to it LOL.Wink

I would be interested to hear from some of our gals that live in Europe about the use of their old currency..




Happy Beading!!


Small-town USA. 




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maneki wrote
on Jun 22, 2008 4:01 PM

I just saw this question and thought I'd give a swedish perspective.Well, in Sweden -- and we like many european countries don't use the Euro -- using coins in jewelry had been done since the Viking Age when coins were just thought of as their weight in silver. Many arab coins have been found with holes in them or with bails for use in necklaces or just as a way to keep them. And in many parts of the world it's been done for ever as well.In traditional clothing from the province of Skåne a certain type of silver jewellery -- dräktsilver -- is important and a reoccuring type of jewelry was silver coins, some being hundred of years old (sort of heirloom coins), with soldered on silver wire used to make them into fancy pendants. Especially coins from special years were used, like the year a war ended or a new king was crowned.


I've heard about it being illegal to destroy money in the US, but I've never heard of it anywhere else. Theoretically it might be illegal, but not something that is persued. If you are afraid of putting holes in coins perhaps you should use some of the minor danish coins as they already have holes in them or make a bezel so you can use the coins without drilling etc in them. Some other countries also have coins with holes -- I have some old indian ones for example. Or you could use coins that you know are out of circulation (every so often old designs or lower value coins are taken off the market).

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Bobi W wrote
on Jun 22, 2008 5:57 PM

Big SmileI also just saw this post.  I have seen some offerings of circulated and uncirculated coins for sale at Fire Mountain Gems.  They also carry buttons that are Buffalo head nickels.  This could be a source for obtaining the coins used in the flea markets and things.  I also recall seeing a heart shape cut from quarters and strung on a necklace at a fair a few years back.  I found a site that shows the legality on using US coins for this purpose.

I also saw the following information on Ebay discussing the sale of altered monies.


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.]"

And then, a clearer description:

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)


My understanding is that as long as you are not going to use coins (or paper money) to do something fraudulent, you can use them for artist creations and that is why you see the penny machines and such. 

Glad you asked this!  I learned something new. =)



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Billy Z wrote
on Jun 22, 2008 6:42 PM

 Thank you all so much for not only reasding, but taking time to answer.

I really appreciate all of the information and it makes things a lot easier to understand. I was an electronic technician for the last 25 years of my carreer so soldering is a cinch, and done properly, won't compromise the integrity of the origional piece either.

I thank you again for your time and contributions. Maybe this will help others with similar questions. ;o)

 I yam wut I yam and dats all wut I yam. ~Popeye~

Dragonfly Jewelry Designs - ArtFire Artisan Studio


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