Many online debates have popped up over the legality of melting down U.S. coins. It is not illegal to melt, destroy, or modify any U.S. coins in the United States. However, as with any law, there are important details to consider before deciding to melt down coins.
Pennies and Nickels
Pennies and nickels contain copper, zinc, and other metals that are of great monetary value. It is because of this that melting down these metals for the sole intention of selling to offshore or local metal scraping industries is illegal. The selling of large amounts of melted-down nickels would be expensive for the government to reproduce over time. To help prevent this, it is illegal to take more than $5 worth of pennies and nickels out of the U.S. While it’s common to see coin-pressing machines at amusement parks or festivals, this practice is legal since there is no profit within the practice. Melting pennies or nickels for jewelry such as rings or necklaces is also legal since this is a creative rather than business practice.
Gold and Silver Coins
Gold and silver coins follow the same legal pattern as pennies and nickels. It is illegal to sell the melted-down metal for profit, but coin pressing and creative endeavors such as jewelry making are legal. Gold and silver coins are circulated less than pennies and nickels, and the demand for them is low.
As for foreign currency, each country’s law dictates the selling and distribution of coins. For example, it is illegal in Canada to melt silver coins. However, if the coin is exported, there is no jurisdiction from Canada for the coin to be modified in America. It’s suggested not to carry a large amount of foreign coin currency back to the United States, but the chances of running into legal trouble are usually low.
Generally speaking, even in situations where it is legality of melting down, it is recommended that you refrain from doing so. The primary reason is that coins, even if damaged or defaced, are in a recognizable form. This allows individuals to identify the purity, the actual gold and silver weight, and the estimated value of the coins. When coins are melted, it’s impossible to know the purity of the metal, unless it has been refined and stamped by a refinery, which can be a costly process.
If you are looking to sell rare coins or other coins, Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers is here to help. As a leading rare coin dealer in the Metro Atlanta area, we provide an educated, transparent background for appraisals. Contact us at 404-236-9744 to get started. We are back open to the public, but if an in-person meeting is not an option for you due to COVID-19, you can schedule an online appointment.