Coin Melting Laws - Just the Facts

Discussion in 'Bullion Investing' started by Randy Abercrombie, Jun 1, 2021.

  1. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    I tried to find the answer to this via Google but I am still not entirely clear. The best that I have been able to glean from this is that it is legal to melt or damage coins unless the intent is to profit or defraud…… Well, profiting is exactly why we turn in junk silver to the smelter. So what are the guidelines exactly? Do melting laws that apply to cents also apply to 65-70 halves? Or war nickels? If my intent is to melt another nations silver coinage, do I need to comply with that nations melting laws?
    Inspector43 likes this.
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  3. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    I think you would only have to abide by another nation's coin melting/defacement laws if you resided in that nation. It's not the sort of thing they would seek extradition over. As for profit from melting US silver, it's been done so extensively after the switch from 90% silver that in practice the law is not enforced.

    Dr. Henry Jarecki made a fortune (openly) in the 60s buying up silver certificates at a premium, converting them to silver coin, and selling the silver where it was largely melted. I think the Treasury didn't like it, but nothing happened to him. I think he also helped puncture the silver bubble created by the Hunt Brothers around 1980...
  4. Matthew Kruse

    Matthew Kruse Young Numismatist

    It’s illegal but hasn’t been enforced for a long time. It’s not like you’re going to be arrested or even fined if you melt or damage coins unless you do on a really large scale.
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  5. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    The means to melt the coins, the area and the process needed, along with the refinement that is necessary to remove the other metals makes me take it to a dealer anywhere and sell it. I have no hassles or worries from any source.
  6. NPCoin

    NPCoin Resident Imbecile

    As the title requested, just the facts:

    The codified regulation is 31 CFR § 82.
    The reference for this regulation was published in the Federal Register Vol. 72, No. 72, Monday, April 16, 2007, page 18880.
    Authority for the Secretary of the Treasury to create, modify, and enforce this regulation rests in 31 U.S. Code § 5111(d)

    31 CFR § 82.1 specifically references only one cent and five cent coin of the United States.

    31 CFR § 82.2(d) explicitly excludes "war nickels" from this regulation.

    You must comply with the laws of any country which you are a resident or citizen of. As well, you must comply with any laws of any authority in which you pass through. So, it is all circumstantial.

    However, for a U.S. citizen within U.S. borders, barring any additional compacts entered between the U.S. and other nations, 31 CFR § 82 applies only to one cent and five cent coin of the United States.

    I have seen others post replies such as:
    Please give legal code or regulatory references. Thank you!
  7. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Excellent post. It agrees with what I read. For years none were illegal to melt until the last time copper and nickel got high, and they made cents and nickels illegal to melt.
  8. eddiespin

    eddiespin Fast Eddie

    It was illegal in 1970 or they couldn't have charged, here...

    "A Federal Court jury in Brooklyn last night acquitted Joseph Colombo Jr. and Joseph Ianacci of charges that they had conspired to melt American silver coins into more valuable ingots, but a third defendant, David Lennard, was found guilty of the same charge."
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  9. NPCoin

    NPCoin Resident Imbecile

    Thank you!! I appreciate your diligence. About a week and a half earlier, the NY Times posted a story regarding the case revealing that "the alleged conspiracy began Nov. 15, 1968, and continued until May 12, 1969..."

    Now, the next paragraph gives a typo of 1970: "The ban against melting silver coins ended in May 1970". In fact, the executive order was issued effective May 12, 1969...thus the reason the alleged "conspiracy" continued until that date.

    The order may be found in the Federal Register Vol 34 7681 (May 15, 1969), pg. 7704 under Title 31 - Money and Finance: Treasury, Chapter 1, Part 82, Revocation of Part. It states the effective date of the revocation was to be immediately, dated as May 12, 1969, stating: "The Silver Coin Regulations are being revoked" and "This revocation terminates the prohibitions on the melting, treating or exporting from the United States of silver coin of the United States" and "Because the revocation relieves existing restrictions, it is found, in accoradnce with 5 U.S.C. 553, that notice and public procedure thereon are unnecessary." and "...Part 82, Chapter I of Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, is revoked."

    You can view this Federal Register from the Library of Congress here:

    Let's see if there are any current legal code or regulatory references available. Just the facts, Ma'am!
    -jeffB likes this.
  10. NPCoin

    NPCoin Resident Imbecile

    If I am not mistaken the original trial you referenced actually began the prior year (I could be wrong). And, in reference to the FR Vol 34 from the above reply, "conspiracy" to melt silver coinage was still a no-no if it was committed prior to the revocation. So, anybody was/is still liable for melting any U.S. silver coin of 90% purity during the Treasury's ban of such.
  11. eddiespin

    eddiespin Fast Eddie

    Yes, that appears to be the case.
    This is hardly the N.Y. Times, but, according to this article, he wasn't arrested until April 30, 1970, and he was acquitted, following an eight-day trial, on February 26, 1971. Note the specificity of those dates. Something isn't fitting...
  12. eddiespin

    eddiespin Fast Eddie

    So I think you're right, you provided our answer, here. It adds up like this. There was a prohibition, but it was revoked in this action in the FR. Being revoked, it was taken out of the CFR. Bottom-line, there's nothing any longer that says you can't do it. Ergo, you can do it.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2021
  13. midas1

    midas1 Exalted Member

    ". . . Joseph Colombo Jr. and Joseph Ianacci. . . " Makes me think of the Sopranos TV show.
  14. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer Well-Known Member

    Actually the Sopranos were based on those guys, and their ilk.
    midas1 likes this.
  15. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    From what I’ve read pennies and nickels are illegal to melt and everything else is fair game.

    Gold & silver coins are definitely legal to melt.

    It makes sense though. Pennies cost 2 cents to make and if people melt them they are out of circulation and more need to be made.

    I think pennies need to stop being minted.
  16. eddiespin

    eddiespin Fast Eddie

    I saw a wild Ilk once when I was in northern Montana.
    midas1 likes this.
  17. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer Well-Known Member

    Were you with Marlin Perkins?
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