What is the United States Mint’s position on selling altered U.S. coins?
The United States Mint does not encourage or support products that alter the fundamental images on its coins. A superimposed design, especially, is entirely different from the coin’s original image and almost obliterates the coin’s intrinsic design. Other modification methods may also affect a coin’s design. Altering United States Mint coins this way may offend people who regard the images and designs on our Nation’s coinage as sacrosanct. Indeed, Congress itself mandates by statute the themes, images and inscriptions that appear on a particular coin.
Is my business permitted to sell genuine United States coins on the secondary market?
Yes, but your business is expected to comply with all U.S. trademark laws and false and deceptive advertising laws.
Can my business alter, such as by colorizing or gold-plating, United States coins?
Yes. However, your business may need the U.S. Government’s permission if the U.S. Government owns a copyright in the coin design. Also, keep in mind that it is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 331 to alter a U.S. or foreign coin with the intent to defraud. The United States Mint cannot issue interpretations of criminal statutes such as this, which fall within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice. Businesses should consult with their attorneys and carefully evaluate their proposed products, packaging and advertising to ensure they do not run afoul of this criminal statute.
Can my business make or sell replicas of U.S. coins?
Yes. However, businesses must be aware of a number of requirements and restrictions, including counterfeiting laws, advertising requirements and more. Dos and Don’ts for Businesses Interested in Creating, Advertising and Selling Replicas of U.S. Coins
Can I attach an advertisement to a U.S. coin?
No. It is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 475 to attach a business card, notice or advertisement to a U.S. coin. A violator may be subject to criminal fines.
Can I make jewelry from U.S. coins?
Yes, but your business should be careful not to imply any endorsement by or association with the United States Mint in its advertising and marketing materials.
Can my business sell foreign coins in the United States?
Yes, but your business is expected to comply with all U.S. false and deceptive advertising laws. Dos and Don’ts for Businesses Interested in Advertising and Selling Foreign Coins
Can I melt, drill holes through, or mutilate U.S. coins?
Maybe. It is a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 331 to alter a U.S. or foreign coin with the intent to defraud. The United States Mint cannot issue interpretations of criminal statutes such as this, which fall within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice. Furthermore, 31 C.F.R. Part 82 states that no person shall export, melt or treat any 5-cent coin or one-cent coin of the United States. However, there are a few exceptions such as for novelty, amusement, educational, jewelry and similar purposes. Your business should consult with an attorney to ensure it does not run afoul of these laws before melting or mutilating U.S. coins.