We get this one all the time...
Here's the official answer: YES...and No.
United States (YES): The United States
Codes under Title 18, Chapter 17, and Section 331, "prohibits the mutilation,
diminution and falsification of United States coinage." However, it has been the
opinion of some individual officers at the Treasury Department, though without
any indication of approval, the foregoing statute does not prohibit the mutiliation
of coins if done without fraudulent intent or if the mutilated coins are not used
United Kingdom (YES): It is also legal
to elongate coins in the UK for the same reasons at it is legal in the US. A common
misconception is that it is illegal to elongate the coin because it defaces the
image of the queen, however, we have been assured by a collector in the UK that
it is not against the law to flatten the Queen's head... so long as it is on a
Canada (NO): Section 11(1) of the
Currency Act states that "no person shall, except in accordance with a licence
granted by the Minister [Minister of Finance], melt down, break up or use otherwise
than as currency any coin that is current and legal tender in Canada." Furthermore,
Section 456 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it a criminal offence to deface
circulation coins: "Every one who: (a)defaces a current coin, or (b)utters
a current coin that has been defaced, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary
conviction." The offence is not dependent on fraudulent intent. -Royal Canadian Mint
What you are seeing is zinc,
not silver. Before 1982, the U.S. minted coins that were about 95% copper and
5% tin & zinc. Beginning in 1982, the proportion of each metal was reversed
because the value of the copper in a penny was becoming more valuable than a penny.
When you elongate a post-1982 penny, the elongation process will reveal the zinc
below the copper. [See Collecting Tips]
We intentionally make the sleeves
tight in the PennyCollector books so that air will not get to the coins and tarnish
them. However, because every penny from a different year has a different composition
of metal, and machines can be set to varying degrees of pressure, the variances
of the length of the rolled coins can be substantial. [See
pennies prior to 1997 were approximately 98% copper and 1.75 % zinc. From 1997
to 2001, Canadian pennies were modified and were minted as copper-coated zinc
wafers. A recent scanning electron microscopic examination of a 2001 Canadian
penny indicated approximately 96 % zinc. Today's one-cent coin, modified in 2001,
should be made of copper-plated steel (94% steel, 1.5% nickel, 4.5% copper). So,
a pre-1997 Canadian penny (aside from being illegal to smash in Canada) should
give you a decent result after elongating.
Do not attempt to elongate a "Loonie" (the non-round coin). It will
squish far too short and you will loose part of the design.
The best solution is to clean
your pennies before elongating them. Post 1982 pennies are predominately
zinc (see above) and once elongated the zinc can become noticeable as 'silver'
streaks on the surface of the penny. Once the zinc is exposed it becomes difficult
to polish since zinc tarnishes to a very dark grey appearance. That said, please
visit our Cleaning Tips Page for cleaning solutions.
The copper in the penny is oxidizing
(combining with the oxygen in the air) to make copper oxide. Although fairly resistant
to corrosion, copper does oxidize slowly in air, and when carbon dioxide is also
present, its surface becomes coated with a thick green film of copper-hydroxide-carbonate.
The outer surface of the Statue of Liberty is made of copper, and this compound
is what gives it its green color. Visit our Cleaning
Tips Page for cleaning solutions.
some pennies you will find small numbers and letters near the catch notch. The
letters indicate the company that engraved the die. For Instance, 'LE' stands
for 'Lodestar Entertainment' (our company's former name), 'PC' stands for 'PennyCollector'
(our new name), 'E' stands for 'Eurolink Manufacturing Corporation', etc. The
numbers indicate the sequence in which each coin was produced. In our company,
Sea World was the first location to have a custom coin made, and that coin has
no number. Next came Six Flags (02), Universal (03), Busch Gardens (04), and so
Here's the Master List of coin initials we know of. If you know of others,
us and we'll add it to the list. If you can solve the mystery of who the designers
are for those with a "?", please tell us.
good news is that you are not doing anything wrong to make the pennies off-centered.
The bad news is that you CAN'T do anything to make them ON center. If the design
comes out partially off the penny, then it is a machine maintenance issue and
the coin slot needs to be adjusted to align with the die. All pennies will be
horizontally off-centered to one degree or another. The left side will always
be on the edge because of the catch notch. When the penny first comes into contact
with the die, a catch notch is made which guides the rest of the penny through
the roller. So, the left side of the design is always right on the edge of the
penny. The right side of the design will usually have a tail of varying length
based on the pressure that the die is exerting on the penny. This is adjustable
so if there is an unusually long tail, this means that the pressure should be
reduced on the machine.
That said, the length of the tail also depends upon the coin that you use.
A pre-1982 copper penny will typically be shorter than a post-1982 zinc penny
because zinc is softer than copper and will elongate more. However, you could
run 50 copper pennies and each might have a slightly different tail length because
the amount of copper in the pennies will also vary. Some collectors like a long
tail, some don't. So your best bet is to decide what you like best and use copper
for short tails and zinc for long tails.
Is it possible that the your coins could turn color after a period of time in a penny book? Anything is possible, but this is very unlikely.
Here are tips to keep the coins looking like the first day you made them:
Use pre-1982 pennies
Do not let moisture get into where you keep the books
Make sure the coins ar ecompletely dry before storing them
And if the coins ever do turn a color you can always take them out and follow our Cleaning Tips to keep the coins looking good.
After selling hundreds of thousands of books we have heard of less than 5 people who have said there coins turned color in the books. We can assure you this was not because of the plastic we use.
Around here the s-shape is affectionately known as "potato chipping". It's all about how the die design takes the copper. The rolls have a contact point which is constant for each set. The only variable is the die engraving itself. We've spent hours trying to develop a device that would output the coins flat. We were successful at doing this with zinc coins on some presses, but the coppers are more resistant to being shaped as they come. The best that we can suggest is to reshape them after rolling.