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SouthpawLefty
07-15-2000, 05:08 PM
I have a follow-up question concerning a response given by SDSTAFF Mac on whether or not it is legal to put a hole in a quarter and sell it. After providing the legal citation, SDSTAFF Mac stresses that "And the critical feature is someone trying to make money off the coins at the expense of the government."
Now my question is about machines I've seen (mostly at tourist attractions) which, for a fee of 0.50, will squash, mutilate, and otherwise deface a penny and impress upon it some image. Clearly this is being done for a profit and the pennies are so thoroughly defaced that they are no longer look like pennies and are no longer even circular (they're ovals). I understand that the coin's face value is greater than the value of the metal used to make it, but someone is turning a profit by destroying government property, doesn't that count for anything?

sorrel554
07-15-2000, 11:50 PM
Welcome, Southpaw. I've wondered this same thing.

Here's the link (http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mhole.html) to the column for whoever's interested.

waterj2
07-16-2000, 01:10 AM
I've always wondered if my money is actually considered government property. This strikes me as kind of odd, and rather suspicious. Can the government simply decide to take their property back from me?

Danielinthewolvesden
07-16-2000, 03:16 AM
These types of things are OK. What is not Ok is to deface a coin for the purpose of passing it off as a different coin, or 'clipping" coins of precious metal. You may destroy all the pennies you want.

samclem
07-16-2000, 03:25 PM
Daniel got it right, although, since 1969, it's getting pretty hard to clip coins made out of precious metal.

Chronos
07-16-2000, 03:52 PM
A fine distinction: As I understand it, your money is yours, and not the government's. However, the currency you carry is the government's, and they just let you use it to keep track of how much money you have.

In other words, I own a dollar, but I do not own a dollar bill.

OldMan
07-16-2000, 05:59 PM
Obviously nobody here has ever had to deal with the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency beyond the simplest of tax situations. Their attitude seem to be that everything you earn belongs to them, except what you can prove is yours, according to rules they get to make up. No kidding, I've seen a document from those guys in which they call money they don't tax away from you a 'tax expenditure' on their part. We're heading for a 2-sentence tax return:

1. How much did you make last year?
2. Send it in, plus a 10% handling fee.

CalMeacham
07-17-2000, 10:37 AM
The machines at the Museum of Science here in Boston actually have the legal citation on the side that shows that you can deface pennies for novelties without any fear of legal penalty (I suppose too many people didn't want to use the machines, which take $0.50 plus the penny, for fear that they would become part of an interactive "How the Justice System Works" exhibit).

When I was a kid I worried that using pennies in chemistry experiments and machining pennies for magic tricks would get me in trouble with The Law. That Catholic School upbringing can induce a lot of guilt.

C K Dexter Haven
07-17-2000, 11:03 AM
PENalty for defacing PENnies? Hah, tell me that's a coincidence.

Anyway, you know that you can't deface a penny using a common sabre or rapier, because the penny is mightier than the sword.

Nanook of the North Shore
07-17-2000, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by CKDextHavn
PENalty for defacing PENnies? Hah, tell me that's a coincidence.

Anyway, you know that you can't deface a penny using a common sabre or rapier, because the penny is mightier than the sword.

That was bad. Really bad. You should lose your admin privelages that was so bad. *groan*

Guinastasia
07-17-2000, 03:32 PM
Hmmm...I once found a quarter with a whole drilled into it-had to be, it was too smooth otherwise.
BTW, what DOES happen when one puts a penny on a rail road track?

Arnold Winkelried
07-17-2000, 04:47 PM
Nanook of the North Shore: If you think that was one of CKDextHavn's bad ones, you obviously haven't been reading the SDMB enough. CKDextHavn is a "master" :rolleyes: of the pun.

Guinastasia: People have told me that when you put a penny on a railroad tie, after the train runs over it it's extremely flat. I've always found that hard to believe, I would think that it would go spinning off in the air. But I've never tried it myself.

Munch
07-17-2000, 05:01 PM
First off, Arnold, you have to place it on a railroad track that has trains that are going REAL fast. Preferably, place the penny down BEFORE the train comes along.

Secondly, CK, at least he didn't say "Punalty for defacing punnies."

ren
07-17-2000, 05:53 PM
PENalty for defacing PENnies? Hah, tell me that's a coincidence.


Oh, great. Just set that ball in motion.

By this time next week I'll probably have been forwarded at least a dozen times some email containing the interesting and obscure story about where the term "Penalty" really comes from.

Are you getting some sort of kickback from Snopes? ;)

samclem
07-17-2000, 08:49 PM
Guin When you put a cent on a railroad track(or any other coin for that matter), no matter how slow/fast the train is going, the weight of the train flattens the coin. You can still see the impression of the coin on the now-flat and elongated metal.

Side note: I once had a sweet little old lady bring me in an obviously train-flattened cent, which was rather too far gone to identify by year. She said her grandmother had put it on the tracks of McKinley's funeral train(I'm in Ohio).

I couldn't resist--I said, "no m'am" "This one was run over by Garfield's funeral train." Always regretted doing that, but not at the time.

dorkbro
07-18-2000, 12:31 AM
Originally posted by Nanook of the North Shore
Originally posted by CKDextHavn
PENalty for defacing PENnies? Hah, tell me that's a coincidence.

Anyway, you know that you can't deface a penny using a common sabre or rapier, because the penny is mightier than the sword.

That was bad. Really bad. You should lose your admin privelages that was so bad. *groan*

No - that wasn't bad, it was just cents-less. (D&R)

Nanook of the North Shore
07-18-2000, 01:58 AM
Originally posted by dorkbro
Originally posted by Nanook of the North Shore
Originally posted by CKDextHavn
PENalty for defacing PENnies? Hah, tell me that's a coincidence.

Anyway, you know that you can't deface a penny using a common sabre or rapier, because the penny is mightier than the sword.

That was bad. Really bad. You should lose your admin privelages that was so bad. *groan*

No - that wasn't bad, it was just cents-less. (D&R)

Ugh. Thats it I'm leavin this thread and not coming back. Its getting worse and worse.

ricepad
07-18-2000, 02:06 AM
I used to work with an old guy who says when he was a kid, they'd take about seven pennies and place them on a railroad track, each one overlapping the previous one by a little bit. The train would run over them, mash them flat, and kind of meld them together. Then they'd bend them into a "C", and wear them as bracelets.

Must have been a pretty boring childhood, IMHO....

Chronos
07-19-2000, 03:09 AM
Quoth samclem:
no matter how slow/fast the train is goingNot quite true, sam. If you put a penny each directly in front of and directly behind a stopped locomotive's drive wheels, wedged in between the wheel and the track, the loco won't be able to start moving and pull its weight up over the penny; it'll just spin in place. My uncle did this a couple of times as a kid. There would have to be some sort of minimum speed for it to work, but I imagine it'd be pretty slow.
The real difficulty with train-flattening pennies isn't that the wheel flips it off, but that vibrations often shake it off before the train reaches it.

galt
07-19-2000, 07:23 AM
Regarding putting pennies on the railroad tracks, I used to do that when I was a kid, and yes, they go flying all over the place. Our technique was to put half a dozen or so on there, watch 'em go flying, and then try to find them. You'd usually find two or three. They ended up a little smaller than a half dollar, but with the edges smashed down so they were almost sharp. The surface was smooth, but you could usually still see the imprint due to discoloration of the metal.

C K Dexter Haven
07-19-2000, 08:43 AM
Pennies on railroad tracks are all well and good, but when I was a kid, we used to put the pennies under the wheels of the oncoming stagecoaches. If the wheel hit the penny just right, the stagecoach would take a huge bounce, much to our amusement. Unfortunately, usually the horses' hooves would knock the pennies out of the way. Some stage coach lines used to have "sweepers" to ride alongside the drivers with a very long broom to push obstacles out of the path. (We believed this was the Union of Shotgun Riders, since there was no longer fear of attacks on stagecoaches with all the Native Americans contained, these folks were out of a job, and so their union got them the cushier job of sweeper.) Where was I?

Oh, yes. My kids used to sneak out on the runways and try to put pennies in front of aircraft taking off or landing, but it was very hard to judge where to put the pennies.

Arnold Winkelried
07-19-2000, 12:54 PM
CKDextHavn: that's nothing! If you really want excitement, try putting a penny under the space shuttle when it departs. When it melts, the penny takes on all kind of unusual shapes. ;)

Guinastasia
07-20-2000, 10:46 PM
You could try taping it down....hmmmm.....

xizor
07-21-2000, 10:00 AM
Originally posted by Guinastasia
You could try taping it down....hmmmm.....

Being the inventive kids we were, our method was to spit on the track and put the penny in it. It caused enough adhesion so the penny would not vibrate off the track.

We also once tried bullets ala [I]Pink Floyd, the Wall[/I} but they always rolled off the track. Has anyone tried the bullet variation?

Irishman
07-21-2000, 02:35 PM
Two comments:

First, regarding coins on train tracks; while it is fun and dandy and works fine on real trains, don't do it on those baby carnival trains, the ones that run on a 1 ft spaced rails. You can derail those babies. There's a carny near here, a lady I know works at. She supervises the crews who run the games and such, including the train. Said it's happened there.

Second, regarding the shuttle. You don't really want to put a coin on the launch pad. It becomes a thing called FOD (foreign object debris). FOD is very dangerous, as it can ricochet around and put holes in the tiles, for instance. NASA is very concerned with FOD on the launch pad. There is some nifty film footage of objects accidentally left on the pad and missed, like a soda can. Not a good idea.

Chronos
07-21-2000, 11:13 PM
Hmm, I used to drive one of those kiddy trains for a couple of summers, among other rides. I've never heard of it derailing from pennies on the tracks (and I'm sure that SOMEONE had to have tried it, at some point), but I do know that derailing that thing wasn't too hard. I never did it, but just going around a turn too fast would do the trick easily. Note that it doesn't flip over or anything dramatic like that, but it does take the half-dozen or so strongest employees to get it back on the track.

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