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I Forge Iron

The legality of Coin Mokume.... (was mounke)


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According to the United States Treasury's website,

"Is it illegal to damage or deface coins?

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."

So, as long as you're honest, and say, "yes, I used quarters in this mokume, and I'm not planning on selling my creation as silver dollars" you're in the clear.

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There is also a federal regulation that applies specifically to pennies and nickels. It was created a few years ago, when the value of the metal in those coins exceeded their face value, or at least threatened to. Under that regulation, it is unlawful to "export, melt or treat" any penny or nickel. "Treat" means "to smelt, refine, or otherwise treat by heating, or by a chemical, electrical, or mechanical process." There is an exception: "The prohibition contained in § 82.1 against the treatment of 5-cent coins and one-cent coins shall not apply to the treatment of these coins for educational, amusement, novelty, jewelry, and similar purposes as long as the volumes treated and the nature of 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."

Pennies and nickels generally aren't used in mokume; I mention this only as an aside.


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I have used nickels and copper slugs to make a cheaper version of quarters mokume but then I am one of those tight blacksmiths.
You need copper about the same thickness as the nickels for it to look like it was quarters. Thinner copper makes the finished items showing less copper and more nickel which isnt nickel anyway

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