Counterfeit penny?

I have a penny that’s not like the others. (On the right.) It sounds very subtly wrong when I drop it. The edge is rounded and made greyish base metal that wraps around and covers a tiny bit of “United States of America”. The color is off, and the images are in very crude relief compared to the genuine article.

It’s dated 1998 and weighs 2.46 grams when it should weigh 2.5. When I grab the edge with pliers, it scrapes off easily to reveal a bright and silvery base metal. No seam, even when I scraped off a full section of the edge.

So it’s not a spy coin or a smuggling coin or an obvious magic trick, but what is it? I can’t imagine that anyone would bother to fake a penny in 1998, but it looks like someone did.


Are you sure? I used to buy a gimmick from magic shops where a fake dime would fit in a fake penny and I’d spend them on accident. Throw it hard on a table or shake it in a glass and see if it comes apart.

Looks like a penny that has tumbled around inside a washer or dryer for a long time. When it bounces around while tumbling it keeps impacting on edges and the rim becomes rounded and flared. This exposes the zinc inside the coin.

Maybe something like this:

I expect the ‘greyish base’ metal is the zinc alloy which pennies are now made of.
It should melt over a gas stove.

Pennies have been mostly zinc, with a copper plating, since 1982. Yours looks like it had the rim scraped somehow.

Hmm. I’m thinking that the tumbled edge explanation is most likely at this point. I never imagined that tumbling could roll the edge like that, but it seems to be zinc (I scratched another newish penny, and it matched pretty well).

Hurling it at the floor a few dozen times didn’t do anything.

I was really hoping for a cyanide tablet or a microfilm dot or some tiny guerrilla art, though. sigh

I one had a handful of coins retrieved from inside a washer or dryer that had been tumbling around in there for a long time. I don’t mean in the the tub with the clothes, but the coins had fallen between the tub and the casing, possibly near the motor shaft (forgot the details). All those coins had rounded edges like the penny in the OP. The most extreme was a penny with a very flared edge and had been reduced to the diameter of a dime.

Besides, who the heck would want to go to the trouble of counterfeiting a penny?

In of itself a penny isn’t worth much, but if it’s a misprinted penny from the mint (or thought to be) it’s worth a lot to collectors (that is if it is a genuine real misprint)

So you fake a penny and hope to pass it off as a misprint

I see from your profile that you’re from Wisconsin. You may wish to contact a reputable coin dealer to get his or her reaction, or contact the U.S. Secret Service field office in either Madison, 608-264-5191, or Milwaukee, 414-297-3587. Be warned that, if the coin is counterfeit, the USSS will seize it without giving you another penny to replace it.

Yeah, good luck getting away with counterfeiting pennies. Once the Secret Service picks up your cent, they never stop.

And now that we all know about this, someone is sure to drop the dime on you.

And there’s no quarter given.


There, I said it.

…and once said, you can never take that nickel back.

Actually, I’m not so sure the Secret Service would be too eagle to look into counterfeit one-cent pieces.

(Now if we can work in a joke involving “trimes”, we can have the full set.)

I’m sure not going to buck the trend.

I can’t make heads or tails of this thread. But I’m bumping it so it will maintain its currency.

Naw, that penny ain’t worth two bits.

Man, you folks don’t do things by halves, do you?