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Penny Pressing Machines & Laws
(According to Boomer crazy)

Some Governmental References Concerning the Legality of
Pressed Penny or Coin Elongating Machines, Section 331 & 475

18 USC Sec. 331

18 USC Section 331 01/02/2006


Sec. 331. Mutilation, diminution, and falsification of coins

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.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 700; July 16, 1951, ch. 226, Sec.
1, 65 Stat. 121; Pub. L. 103-322, title XXXIII, Sec. 330016(1)(I),
Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Sec. 279 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, Sec. 165, 35 Stat. 1119).
Mandatory punishment provision was rephrased in the alternative. Reference to persons causing or procuring was omitted as unnecessary in view of definition of "principal" in section 2 of this title.
Changes were also made in phraseology.

1994 - Pub. L. 103-322 substituted "fined under this title" for"fined not more than $2,000".
1951 - Act July 16, 1951, made section applicable to minor coins (5-cent and 1-cent pieces), and to fraudulent alteration of coins.

18 USC Sec. 475

18 USC Section 475 01/02/2006


Sec. 475. Imitating obligations or securities; advertisements

Whoever designs, engraves, prints, makes, or executes, or utters, issues, distributes, circulates, or uses any business or professional card, notice, placard, circular, handbill, or advertisement in the likeness or similitude of any obligation or security of the United States issued under or authorized by any Act of Congress or writes, prints, or otherwise impresses upon or attaches to any such instrument, obligation, or security, or any coin of the United States, any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement, or any notice or advertisement whatever, shall be fined under this title. Nothing in this section applies to evidence of postage payment approved by the United States Postal Service.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 706; July 16, 1951, ch. 226, Sec.
2, 65 Stat. 122; Pub. L. 103-322, title XXXIII, Sec. 330016(1)(G),
Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147; Pub. L. 109-162, title XI, Sec.
1192, Jan. 5, 2006, 119 Stat. 3129.)

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Sec. 292 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, Sec. 177, 35 Stat. 1122).
Enumeration of obligations of the United States was omitted in view of definition in section 8 of this title.
Changes in phraseology were also made.

2006 - Pub. L. 109-162 inserted at end "Nothing in this section applies to evidence of postage payment approved by the United States Postal Service."
1994 - Pub. L. 103-322 substituted "fined under this title" for"fined not more than $500".
1951 - Act July 16, 1951, prohibited use of notices or advertising prints or labels on United States coins.


The Treasury's Letter to Vance Fowler
Is it legal to press pennies or other coins?

Mr. Angelo Rosato reproduced this letter from the Department of the Treasury to Mr. Vance Fowler in his book "Encyclopedia of the Modern Elongated", (ISBN 0-9626996-2-4) The letter was dated July 22, 1980, letterhead: The Department of the Treasury, Office of the Director of the Mint, and is probably the source of many quotes collectors have seen over the years. It reads in part:

"This is in reply to your letter of Jun 20, 1980, concerning United States statutes governing the destruction, melting, or other extramonetary uses of United States coins. You refer to and question the legality of a souvenir machine which compresses coins and returns a souvenir. You refer to Title 18, U. S. C. sections 331 and 475.

As you are already aware, a federal statute in the criminal code of the United States (18 U.S.C. 331), indeed makes it illegal if one "fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales or lightens" any U.S. coin. However, being a criminal statute, a fraudulent intent is required for violation. Thus, the mere act of compressing coins into souvenirs is not illegal, without other factors being present.

Section 475, which you refer to in your letter, regarding the attachment of notice or advertisement to legal tender, does not apply to your souvenirs in this case. Your are not impressing or attaching a business or professional card, notice or advertisement to a coin, your are simply making an impression on the coin.

We hope this information answers your question. If we can be of any further assistance, please contact us.


Kenneth B. Gubin
Counsel to the Mint.

Note: Please keep in mind, we are not lawyers, web masters or English Majors! (Yes, is free and one of the few places on the internet you are guaranteed to get your money's worth! sad)
Also, these references address only United States coinage. Canada and some other countries do not permit mutilation of their coins. Lastly, given recent legislation regarding the export and melting of U.S. coins and planned substitute metals, the future of pressing coins in the United States is not certain. Already many Disney "penny press machines" press tokens, planchets, blanks or "slugs" rather than actual coins e.g. "Medals" and "Magical Coins".
If you are a pressed penny collector, you may enjoy our pressed penny collections page.

Why you might have been sent a link to
this page...

Did you email someone and ask if it is illegal to press, elongate, deface, smash, mutilate, smush, mash, mush, flatten, cut, crush, squash, roll, stamp, squish, stretch or pinch United States coins? How about possession of a pressed penny? Intent to make a pressed penny? Are your palms sweating yet?

Did you ask someone if pressing pennies is legal because you are worried that the coins you pressed in Vegas did not stay in Vegas?

Did someone tell you it is legal to press coins in penny press machines, someone you seriously doubt?

Does worry over the legality of pressing pennies or other U.S. coins into elongated coin souvenirs keep you awake at night?

Do you look both ways before you press a penny? And then run away from the scene of the "crime" as quickly as you can?

Do you find yourself associating with or conspiring with known penny pressers, in dark arcades, infested with penny press machines, fearing you'll be discovered by the law?

Did you make comments like "Isn't pressing pennies against the law?" or "Isn't penny pressing illegal!?".

Did you ever say, "I'm going to turn you %$#@ penny wreckers in to the Feds!"?

Did you answer yes or choose to remain silent rather than answering any one of the preceding questions? Be honest now!

Then this page may help. smile Above is the best of what we have collected about those pressing, rolling, smashing, crushing, pressed penny machines and the law.