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Thread: Why is this legal?

  1. #1

    Default Why is this legal?

    Of all the questions I could ask a US presidential candidate, this one sticks out as just the right amount of awkwardness for them to lose a lot of face:

    If defacing US currency is illegal, why do we have penny-mashing machines?

    Since I will never get to ask this on national TV, could someone help me out here instead?

  2. #2


    Well google gave me nothing straight forward....
    What is a penny-mashing machine?

    And what I found was that defacing US currency is only illegal in the US.

    My own feelings/hatred about damaging currency, is the way banks just keeps on making new money and with that increased cash pile, my own money is loosing worth due to inflation!
    (Consider it! The gold price isnīt skyrocketing so much from itīs own inherrant value, but more from the US dollars decreasing value as a global currency)

  3. #3


    In public buildings that have the penny-mashing machines all the pennies are provided and their american (I'm from Canada).

  4. #4


    I've been wondering the same thing actually.

    According to Wikipedia, the mutilation of coins is legal in the US as long as it is not used for illegal purposes (e.g. counterfeiting).

  5. #5


    nickel carvings - Google Search

    "hobo nickels" have been going on for a while, apparently. people carve cool things into a nickel, and then sell them. very cool if you ask me

  6. #6


    What I never understood were those "Where's George" stamps on 1 dollar bills.

  7. #7


    Where's George? Ū 2.4

    it's for any denomination i think, and it's to track where each bill has been. it's more of a hobby for people than anything, but it's cool to see where your dollar bill has been in the US, and even outside it

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Entity View Post
    If defacing US currency is illegal, why do we have penny-mashing machines?
    Well, pennies are high in circulation and you'd have to counterfit a rather noticably significant amount of them to even attempt to do anything with them. And if a criminal was trying for the World's Dumbest then yeah, that would be a way to do it.

    On the otherhand, once you've turned your penny into a souvenier (which is what the penny mashers do btw. You can find them in museums, malls and other places) it's also no longer legal tender. And since those machines generate a profit and there are so many pennies in circulation, I'm sure the US government would rather look the otherway in the name of any small increase in tax revenue.

  9. #9


    Largely for counterfeiting purposes. You don't realize it, but you typically check a bill's denomination by looking at the corner- even if you can clearly see the entire front of it. Knowing this, counterfeiters will take a stack of $50 bills or more commonly $20 bills and tear a corner off each one, gluing the corners onto a $1 bill. Bills only missing a corner are still legal currency, so they aren't wasting money in the process. Then you pass the bill at a gas station or bar or somewhere that handles a lot of cash transactions and has poor lighting.

    Sometimes, you notice someone passing a lot of torn bills, but can't catch them passing a counterfeit bill. This allows law enforcement an in to see if you're counterfeiting. It's similar to nailing Al Capone for tax evasion.

    As for penny mashing machines, coins are excluded from such laws.

  10. #10


    destruction of currency is perfectly legal in the US, you just can't use it as currency any longer, your loss I guess, it also wears out, and, in the case of coin mashers... I used to do it on the railroad tracks as a kid.. much cheaper than inserting 4 quarters and a penny, only to see the 4 quarters disappear into a box and your remaining cent get mashed and pressed with something else for less than a penny of energy (or, in the case of the Boston Museum of Science, you get to turn the crank)

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