Who Can Mint Coins?

There’s a TV ad for a limited edition “Reagan dime” made by some “Washington group”, or such and such. So, who gave them the authority to do so, or is this counterfeiting? - Jinx

Anyone with the means can mint any coins they want to, as long as they’re not meant to pass as actual legal tender. Only the federal government can do that.

Anyone can mint coins. Not just anyone can mint coins that are official currency. It is up to the people negotiating a purchase to determine what the value of a coin is. A penny is worth a cent because we all agree that it is worth a cent because the government (in theory) will give us a cent worth of something for it…I think, I get a little confused around here and was never great at economics. Your Washington Mint Reagan Dime is only worth what someone is willing to trade for it. Personally, I wouldn’t take it for you to purchase a real government issued dime from me. Someone else might sell you a house for your Reagan Dime.

So, playing the devil’s advocate: By what you’re saying, I could therefore print money that looks like the real thing, but say I never meant for it to be the real thing? I mean, nothing on this dime indicates it’s technically fake.

So, I could start printing $20’s with Reagan’s image on it, and pass it off as a collector’s item. And, while I’m at it, pass it off in local stores, too? What draws the line here? - Jinx

Considering that there are no current legal tender issues with Reagan’s portrait on them, yes, you could indeed do that. There are Santa dollars offered every December in novelty stores, after all.

What would indicate that the dime was fake (and the $20 in your hypothetical) would be the fact that REAGAN IS ON THEM.

Right. If you want to trade your Reagan dime (or your Buick) for some corn dogs, it is legal as barter. It doesn’t make either Reagan dimes (or Buicks) legal currency. If you tried to toss you Ronnie in a pile and pass it off as a Franklin, that would be fraud and other stuff.

I’ve seen “novelty” bills in all sorts of configurations: Clinton $3 bills, Santa $10s, Carter $100s, etc. As long as they don’t attempt to be mistaken for real currency (See **jayjay’**s note above) they are perfectly legal to make.

I guess you can bear this in mind when you hear of someone not wanting to accept an unfamiliar denomination or form of legal tender, (Sacagawea dollar coins, 2 dollar bills, etc) because they don’t think they’re “real money.” It’s a little harder to keep track of what’s real tender and what’s not, than it might seem.

The size would give it away. :smiley: (The dime has Roosevelt on it.)

The US Govt. only prohibits ONE thing when it comes to printing/stamping “money”–You can’t put a denomination on the “coin.”

These “REgan dimes” do NOT have a denomination on them. That’s the difference.

It’s perfectly legal to make a round piece of metal with someone’s picture on it.

But you can’t claim that disk of metal is worth a particular amount. You’re free to sell that disk for whatever someone will pay for it, you’re free to offer that disk in trade for anything you wish. As far as the government is concerned that disk isn’t money.

It’s only counterfeiting if you make that disk of metal (or piece of paper) look like government issued money, and try to pass your homemade art project off as government issued money.

I wonder if you could mint “Kruger Rands” that were gold plated instead of solid gold?
Does the US protect other countries’ currency when they have their hands full protecting their own?
Of course you’d have to accompany it with a grand looking “CERTIFICATE OF [sub]in[/sub]AUTHENTICITY” to avoid fraud charges.

Yeah… Franklin D. Roosevelt. I assume Paul used his first name to distinguish him from cousin Teddy.

Of course, the effort just introduced a reasonable ambiguity of its own.

Oooo…nice save. Franklin halves are usually referred to as ‘Franklins’, though. As a coin collector, that’s what popped into my feeble brain.

That’s my understanding. Like most crimes, counterfeiting includes intent. Without the intent to pass the stuff off as money, it’s not counterfeiting.

Coins are one thing, Gov’t notes are something else entirely.
IIRC The very appearance of being too similar in appearancr to real notes is enough to cause you trouble.

Actually, can’t you print a value on your coins, so long as it’s something you yourself (or your company) will back up?

I’m thinking of all those commercial tokens, things like “good for one ride” at an amusement park. Or the ‘wooden nickels’ good for $1 off a $20 purchase. Many years ago a local dry cleaners used to put a ‘coin’ worth one shirt washed/ironed into the breast pocket of each suit they cleaned.

Just don’t say on your coin (or imply it, by making your coin a near-duplicate of some legal coin) that it is backed by any other party such as a government.

But these are called “dimes”… Even if they don’t say “dime” on them anywhere, I’d think that would still be a problem. I mean, I don’t think you could make “Reagan dollars”, and “dime”, being an official unit of American currency, should be no different.

You might find the work and adventures of J.S.G. Boggs interesting. He has been making his own money, by hand, for many years. He persuades merchants to sell him goods in exchange for his works of art (at the bills’ face value), and subsequently sells the receipt, the change, and information about the transaction to collectors. The collectors will then offer to buy the bill from the merchant for far more than the face value because the complete set of bill, receipt, and change is a valuable work of art.

Boggs’ intent is to raise questions about the meaning of money and value.

He has had various run-ins with the U.S. Secrect Service (which investigates counterfeiting of U.S. currency), and other governments, although I don’t know what the current status of those cases is.

Googling on JSG Boggs yields a great deal of information about him and his artistic examinations of the meaning of money. The Wikipedia entry on Boggs is also interesting.

You might also find the example of Liberty Dollars, a private currency, interesting.

If you try to pass them off as real $20’s that sort of brings in intent, doesn’t it? Printing them and trying to pass them as real is the crime of counterfeiting US currency.

I don’t see any crime if you tell the store owner they are just collector’s items and convince him to trade you some of his merchandise for them.