Defacing the coin of the realm

For reasons which are irrelevant, I wanted to drill 6mm holes in the center of some UK 2p coins.

Out of sheer curiosity, I phoned the local cop shop to enquire whether it would be legal so to do, and was informed that I would be committing a criminal offence , contravening the Coinage Act of 1971 .

Would this be an offence in all countries?

How about the US …Canada …Australia …I don’t mean drilling UK 2p coins, I mean drilling holes in the coins of each particular country.

I am still going to drill the holes, naturally, but I shall be looking over my shoulder …

Per the website of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing;

So to answer at least one part of your question, yes.

Such things are legal in the US, so long as it’s not done for fraudulent purposes.

Do you not have penny-press souvenir machines in the UK? I know I saw them in Ireland (though there, the “pennies” they pressed were 2 cent euro pieces).

nm ninja’d

It’s a federal crime in the US (18 U.S.C. §331) but only if done with intent to defraud.

ETA: Smapti, that section refers to currency, which is solely a reference to banknotes. The text of the relevant section is basically identical, though.

I suspect that most countries take a dim view of defacing their currency. The same rules do not seem to apply to notes though - I often get £5 and £10 notes with all kinds of scribbles on them.

I assume that it would not apply to a coin that is no longer legal tender - can’t you find some 2d coins?

Illegal in Australia

And Illegal in USA , See 18 U.S. Code § 331 - Mutilation, diminution, and falsification of coins

Are any of these laws extraterritorial?

E.g. if a UK citizen travels to the US with UK currency, intending to deface the UK currency after they have arrived in the US, they deface the currency there, then they return to the UK with the defaced currency, have they committed an offense with respect to either country? Iirc US law doesn’t seem to account for defacing foreign (i.e. non-US) currency.

E.g. if I, a US citizen, walk into a police station or FBI office here and state that I have been shooting holes in British coins and also used a 10 pound note as toilet paper, they’ll probably be like, “gee, you could have saved it for a trip!”

In Australia, we have one person who is allowed to deface a limited number of coins. However, none of them are current circulating currency.

Something I have wanted for a while is a double headed coin - and for best effect it needs to be a local coin. The entire point is to get people to think about random processes. Especially the question of whether after a run of one result the other side is “overdue”. You play flip the coin, and see how long it takes them to realise the coin is rigged. Then ask them why they realised. But I also realise the coin is illegal :frowning: - at least the manufacture of it is.

I have a number of pieces of coin jewelry made with circulating U.S. coins. There’s a whole little industry of making cut coin jewelery like the pieces here. As long as you’re not trying to spend it, or use it to defraud, it’s fine.

This article discusses taking uk coins to France for scrap.

You can find some on eBay

Here’s the UK legislation:

I have a friend who uses a sharpie to cover-up “god” on every bill he ever lays his hands on. He lives in Ohio, I’m in western PA, yet I’ve never seen one of his bills.

Good point … since the euro is the official currency of 18 of the EU countries, I would assume that it is perfectly legal to drill holes in Euro coins … what size is a euro 2 cent coin btw ?

I don’t think we ever had 2d coins in the UK , did we ? We had one-penny coins, three-penny coins and six-penny coins, but I don’t recollect a two-penny coin back in the old days. An old penny coin would actually be too big for my purpose …the 2p coin is the perfect size. However, if I can find a Euro coin of approximately the same size I would use that (as long as the coin wasn’t worth more than say 5p in UK currency).

Penny press machines (that press actual 1p coins) are entirely legal in the uk. They have previously not been - the piece of legislation that made them illegal was the Coinage Offences Act 1931, which created an offense of “defacing coins”.
That act has been replaced by the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which contains no such crime.

Note that pressing is not “melting or breaking down”.

They are all over the place in the US. I also saw one at a touristy shop in Canada, but, interestingly enough, it had a sign with a picture of Abraham Lincoln on it saying that you had to use a US penny, and if you didn’t have a US penny, please see the clerk. I suspect that the reason was that Canadian pennies were steel and the machine couldn’t handle that, but there also might have been legal issues where they couldn’t officially encourage defacing Canadian coinage, but defacing Yankee money was fine.

There were 2d coins back when, and one of the Maundy money denominations is twopence (and has been since before decimalization) but you’re right in thinking they weren’t exactly common - neither you nor I would have seen one in pocket change. (Maundy money can be spent, but no-one would be so ungracious.)

Hey, he’s got tuppence!

Yes, it’s almost certain that every country has laws against modifying coins.

Coins are (partly) made from precious metals, and the amount each contains is determined for the entire country by the money-printing authority. The design stamped on gov issued coins is a promise that the coin contains x worth of materials.

If you drill holes, or slice off an edge (even a tiny bit) without eliminating the design, you’re effectively lying about that coins value. Drilling may seem like it would obviously ruin the design, but a clever fraudster could (relatively) easily refill the holes with a less-valuable metal and retouch the design so it appears to be a legitimate coin, at first glance.

And while it’s extremely unlikely that somebody would go to the trouble for a two-penny coin (or even a quarter), and the impact would be near-insignificant, you could still get arrested for it. A police officer, speaking in his/her official capacity should (and usually does) speak about the law (as they know it), not the likelihood of enforcement of a particular law.

I bet you can get a decorative version of the coin designed for wearing from the treasury for a small fee. Not only are they authorized to modify the promise implied by a gov seal, they are much better equipped to do things like poking holes in the dead center of a coin without ruining it’s appearance.