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 selling pennies as scrap metal?
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3 Posts

Posted - 07/24/2006 :  10:26:20  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
I cant seem to find any legal info or help. Is it legal or illegal to sell copper pennies as is for scrap metal? Looking at all the laws I can find anything to lead me to believe it is illegal but im sure its in a grey area. Im awaiting a phone call to get answered but hoping i can get one on here sooner.

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realcent
Forum Admin



USA
246 Posts

Posted - 07/24/2006 :  10:47:31  Show Profile Send realcent a Private Message
Hi Charlie476:

I have never been able to find a law anywhere that would make it illegal to melt US coins for scrap. The thing that comes closest is a law making it illegal to alter coins with intent to defraud. (such as changing denominations or changing coins to make them more valuable to collectors)

Have you ever seen anyone arrested for using one of those penny smashing machines at amusement parks and museums across the country?


There was a thread about this topic awhile back, here is the link:
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Doug
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3 Posts

Posted - 07/24/2006 :  10:47:55  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
I got a reply from 1 of our cities largest scrap metal places saying he will give me $2.00Lb for the copper pennies which is a fraction low. But ive concluded it is illegal to sell as scrap metal but he is buying them to keep for the future im guessing or might melt them down no telling.
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realcent
Forum Admin



USA
246 Posts

Posted - 07/24/2006 :  10:49:54  Show Profile Send realcent a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by charlie476

I got a reply from 1 of our cities largest scrap metal places saying he will give me $2.00Lb for the copper pennies which is a fraction low. But ive concluded it is illegal to sell as scrap metal but he is buying them to keep for the future im guessing or might melt them down no telling.



Could you tell me what brougth you to the conclusion that it is illegal to sell pennies as scrap? (There is no sarcasm intended here...I am very interested)


Doug
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3 Posts

Posted - 07/24/2006 :  10:55:05  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
because if it was legal why wouldnt every1 be doing it. I shouldnt have said I came to conclusion it is illegal i should have said thats what he said. Im sure hes probably right but either way I cant find any1 to even think about taking them. But I want to know if it is illegal to sell them as scrap as is. Not melting them or anything after all if you do that your not defacing or anything. But it falls under a grey area of the laws and truely much like everyother law there is 15 ways of understanding it.
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realcent
Forum Admin



USA
246 Posts

Posted - 07/24/2006 :  11:05:44  Show Profile Send realcent a Private Message
The following is from the the treasury's website, in the FAQ section.

You must be logged in to see this link.

This is the closest thing I could find. I can't find anything anywhere that even hints it might be illegal to sell the pennies as scrap.

Let us know if you find anything else out.

Oh, and by the way, welcome to the board...Stick around!

---------------------------------------------

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.
---------------------

Bolding and italics are mine.

Another thing to consider is pre-1965 'junk' silver coins are sold to be melted all the time, and no one is ever arrested or fined for that. I can't see why copper cents would be any different.




Doug
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pencilvanian
1000+ Penny Miser Member



USA
2209 Posts

Posted - 09/05/2006 :  17:55:25  Show Profile Send pencilvanian a Private Message
As far as altering the appearance of a coin is concerned, the government does not seem to mind if you squash your pennies into an oblong shape, such as elongated coins are concerned.
Look up ebay for elongated coins. Since these elongated pennies are trinkets and souvenirs, they do not fall into the category of legal tender. The earliest elongated coins I can find reference to date back to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, so history is on your side.

Also, since 2003 the U. S. Mint has been “waffling” or intentionally mangling error coins or coins that were damaged in the minting process. Other mints of the world have been doing this also.

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As far as the U. S. Mint is concerned, a waffled coin is not considered a coin with legal tender status, so the restrictions as applied to mutilating does not apply.

If you wish to intentionally mangle or flatten your coins to sell for their metal value, the government would have a hard time convicting you of doing anything illegal. If it is mangled beyond recognition, it is not a coin with legal tender status.
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ImperialFleet
Penny Pincher Member



USA
217 Posts

Posted - 09/05/2006 :  18:24:01  Show Profile Send ImperialFleet a Private Message
I guess my only question is where can I buy a custom casting die for ingots? It would be easy to melt pennies and then pour your own ingots that contain 1 lb of .950 Copper.

________________________________________
“Ultimately, the Fed can flood the system by buying any kind of asset, or even dropping bank notes from helicopters" -Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke
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pencilvanian
1000+ Penny Miser Member



USA
2209 Posts

Posted - 09/13/2006 :  17:44:05  Show Profile Send pencilvanian a Private Message
Here is one way to melt pennies, but I don’t know if these were zinc or copper pennies to begin with.


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cakesea
Penny Sorter Member



51 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2006 :  11:43:30  Show Profile Send cakesea a Private Message
Pencilvanian i Read your post and went to the site you posted i then did an experiment of my own i held a zinc penny over an open flame for thiry seconds and the i did the same with the copper penny . my results were that the zinc penny showed some melting and the copper penny only blacked so because of this experiment i think that it was probably a zinc penny because when exposed to direct heat the zinc penny became distorted after thirty second and as i said nothing happened to the copper penny.in the the experiment on the link the exposed it to thirty seconds of sunlightthrough basically a large magnifying lens

sean
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pencilvanian
1000+ Penny Miser Member



USA
2209 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2006 :  15:36:24  Show Profile Send pencilvanian a Private Message
Thanks for the input, guess I'll have to keep searching for some other low cost way to melt copper.
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n/a
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73 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2006 :  22:30:20  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
I actually have a fresnel lens, maybe I'll try to melt a penny this weekend (if it's not raining). I did hold a canadian penny on a firebrick which I chiseled out a pit large enough to hold the penny and I used a propane torch probably over 30 seconds and all that happened was it charred and slightly melted (I've read elsewhere, that melting copper with plenty of oxygen present will char it).

The torch had much higher heat than an open flame would've. I do know focusing sunlight with a fresnel lens can generate a very large temperature at the pinpoint of light, that's probably why it melted probably much more quickly. Can't find the site I saw once before but this one is similar You must be logged in to see this link.

Basically, impractical for melting pennies, you'd have to do one at a time manually. I've been looking into building a homemade smelter. Seems you can rig up a propane tank to a fire clay/sand/cement or some such concoction (that you have to heat and dry) then hook up the propane tank to it. So far the most practical way I've found to do it but I can't put a smelter in my garage and I don't live out in the country so I'm pretty sure my neighbors would call the cops suspecting I was doing who knows what...
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Canadian_Nickle
Penny Hoarding Member



Canada
938 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2006 :  22:37:43  Show Profile Send Canadian_Nickle a Private Message
Pfft! Lenses? Torches? Real men melt metal with microwaves:

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pencilvanian
1000+ Penny Miser Member



USA
2209 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2006 :  16:30:02  Show Profile Send pencilvanian a Private Message
I am still hoping that the fresnel lens method can work, even though it can only do one penny at a time.
Just the idea that there is a way to melt pennies without the cost of fuel and minimum cost of equipment is what I find interesting.

Please, just make sure you wear eye protection when you try it.
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pencilvanian
1000+ Penny Miser Member



USA
2209 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2006 :  17:26:52  Show Profile Send pencilvanian a Private Message
Don't mean to sound like a worry wort, I just don't want anyone to get hurt, thats all.
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n/a
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73 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2006 :  17:14:37  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
Ok, gave the fresnel lens a try:

Miserable results, was going to use my infrared thermometer to test how hot the cont was but I only have two hands and I'll just say after 1 full minute I got bored of trying. The penny did not get warm, I touched it with my finger, I've had CPU's much hotter than this penny was subjected to.

However, I used a 10"x12" fresnel, I believe the link I sent showed closer to a 24"x36" fresnel which would have 7.2 times as much surface area for focusing sunlight. Not sure of the math but that probably exponentially changes the temperature at the pinpoint of light. Also, my test was not done at noon...more like 5:30 PM and they skies were not entirely clear being as Northeast IN doesn't rank very high geographically as somewhere where the sky is sunny and there are no clouds. Also, I did not have a frame so it was mostly trial and error on my part to get the focus and with the sun at 5:30 PM position, meant I needed to angle everything. So, I had no success even bringing a 1985 Canadian Penny...figured I'd try a Non-US penny. Don't think anyone in Canada is going to go through the trouble of trying to prosecute me for breaking some law over a $0.01 item and it's probably only illegal to melt Canadian pennies in Canada? Don't know.

All said, I do believe you can make a fresnel lens work, but as I said before the pinpoint of light is only going to be good for one penny at a time and the website claimed like 30 seconds but you'll have to get the larger lens likely. If you're retired and have nothing better to do I guess 30 seconds/penny is your call, you'd melt $1.2 worth fiat in an hour...way below minimum wage even at 3x metal value would be max of $3.60/hr to do this. My opinion impractical plus you get one melted penny at a time so if you want an ingot you'll end up with more of a piecemeal lump of individual melted coins. Sorry for sounding like such a downer. You couldn't use this method to really even boil a pot of water, you'd just vaporize the pinpoint spot of water rather than heating the whole pot.

If still interested I have no reason to believe the websites are fake(as I've seen several others try the same thing). They just use a larger lens than I did and mount it on a frame so they can follow the sun. I have heard that you can get a fresnel lens of the larger size from an old projection TV if you can scavenge one of them up somewhere. Otherwise, I believe the fresnel lens from my link runs around $200. I saw some with dimension close to what I described selling for $30 but they said you could roll them up so sounds more like a cheap version. Mine is like 1/8" thick, definitely does not roll up.

I still say a propane powered smelter is the way to go but I've got a plumbing project (which turned into more of a remodel the whole bathroom project) taking up my free time (outside of making posts here).
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Canadian_Nickle
Penny Hoarding Member



Canada
938 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  00:17:36  Show Profile Send Canadian_Nickle a Private Message
you should combine the tywo projects - melt yr pennies to make yr own copper pipes for the plumbing project.
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n/a
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73 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  13:38:31  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
Yeah, don't think I'm quite the machinist to be able to make my own pipes...

One thing I thought was funny when I bought the pipes was my local Ace Hardware, which being local means it pretty much across the board has higher prices than the mega size Lowes and Home Depot, is they actually had copper pipes for cheaper than the larger stores. There was a piece of paper showing the price of each copper pipe that was dated June 10th or something, so I figured "Oh, they just didn't adjust for fluctuations in the price of copper since they made the price list". So I took it to the counter for a price check and sure enough, lower price. Sold!

I'm sure they just put x% markup on the pipes and they probably sell so few that they didn't reorder for a long time and didn't have to put x% markup on the new price. The larger stores probably go through so much pipe they price it weekly. Ace was outdated by about 3 months...if the price of copper ever goes up sharply, I'll be back there looking to see if they are selling them for below scrap value
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cakesea
Penny Sorter Member



51 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2006 :  15:16:39  Show Profile Send cakesea a Private Message
the only problem i see with the fresnel lens is that copper melts at a temperature of 1984 degrees even if you could get the lens to focus enough energy to make that kind of temperature how would you hold it there? sorry to be the bearer of bad newsbut i find this method of melting pennies to be improbable
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Metalophile
Penny Collector Member



USA
320 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2006 :  14:49:18  Show Profile Send Metalophile a Private Message
I agree, it must be a zincoln they melted with the Fresnel lens. Zinc melts at 419.58 C or about 787 F. Copper melts at 1083.4 C, much hotter.

Metalophile
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beercritic
Penny Pincher Member



USA
112 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2006 :  16:57:39  Show Profile Send beercritic a Private Message
Be careful (s)melting zinc. I've heard the fumes are very toxic.
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Tourney64
1000+ Penny Miser Member



USA
1035 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2006 :  17:40:05  Show Profile Send Tourney64 a Private Message
I've heard the same as well on the toxic zinc fumes. Don't want to have another fatal copper hoarding story hit the news wire.
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n/a
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73 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2006 :  02:54:35  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
I agree a fresnel lens is not the way to go, gave it a try for fun since I had one, but even if it works if it takes me 30 seconds per penny and I have to be there paying attention, no way. Now if a smelter is 30 seconds/penny and I dump several hundred then leave and come back a couple hours later. That'd be just fine.

Anyone have experience with smelters? Better yet, anyone actually make their own smelter? I think that is the way to go, perhaps in a few months I'll figure it out and try it....
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n/a
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17 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2006 :  02:59:21  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by charlie476

I got a reply from 1 of our cities largest scrap metal places saying he will give me $2.00Lb for the copper pennies which is a fraction low. But ive concluded it is illegal to sell as scrap metal but he is buying them to keep for the future im guessing or might melt them down no telling.

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n/a
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17 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2006 :  03:02:00  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
In what city was your scrap yard located ?
Do you now underderstand that melting cents is legal ?
Did your yard refer to the copper pennies as # 2 copper ?

quote:
Originally posted by charlie476

I got a reply from 1 of our cities largest scrap metal places saying he will give me $2.00Lb for the copper pennies which is a fraction low. But ive concluded it is illegal to sell as scrap metal but he is buying them to keep for the future im guessing or might melt them down no telling.

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pencilvanian
1000+ Penny Miser Member



USA
2209 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2006 :  17:37:50  Show Profile Send pencilvanian a Private Message
I don’t mean to interrupt the thread,
But I guess you could file this under “better late than never”

Quote, form Coins Magazine October 2006

Numismatic Mysteries By Alan Herbert
MELTING IS ALLOWED

“Melting copper-alloy coins for their copper content is a very hot topic today because copper has reached an historic high-well over $3 a pound this brings to mind a rather unusual use for coin metal. Several bells of note have been made with copper from melted coins. “

“ One of the classic cases and perhaps the most mysterious is the Liberty Bell made from melted cents for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.”

“According to sketchy information available, patriotic children across the country contributed 250,000 cents that were melted down and cast into a replica of the Liberty Bell by the Daughters of the American Revolution.”

"Tons and tons of coins, ranging from the lowly copper-alloy cent to gold $20s have been turned into jewelry."
“ The Secret Service tried to stop the manufacture of coin jewelry, which became popular during the Columbian Exposition in 1893, aiming a law especially at Native Americans who were profiting by melting silver coins-especially silver dollars-to make their jewelry.”

“The law pinched others and WAS RECINDED in 1909, a fact almost no one is aware of. It’s legal to do anything you want with a coin, other than altering the date or mintmark.”
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