Is It Illegal To Use Pennies In Art? (United States)  

Are you a fellow artist who wants to spruce up their portfolio? Are you simply wanting to create a little art with nearby coins? There are various ways to create art, and sometimes using the things most available to us is a great way to express ourselves and our individual creativity.

Whether you have an abundance of coins nearby or you have all of a sudden gotten access to a plethora of pennies, then you may feel inspired to come up with something coin-based and new.

As far as the legalities go, there’s some important information and regulations worth paying attention to.

There’s plenty of commotion around using U.S. currency for the likes of art, and we’ve specifically seen that in the comments of videos where people are melting down coins for jewelry or melting it down for art.

Don’t worry, though. We have the answers for you so that you may be able to get a little creative with the coinage around you. Specifically, when it comes to pennies.

Is It Illegal to Use Pennies in Art? (Explained)


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No, it is not illegal to use pennies in art. In fact, there are many exhibits showcasing pennies in the form of faces, tables, picture frames, suns, and the like.

Of course, this comes with the fact that while it is okay to use pennies in art, it is not legal or okay to tamper with the actual penny itself.

Any artist must be careful while using any coinage in their art, as it can result into either a large fine or imprisonment for even up to 5 years.

So, where is the legality line drawn? You mustn’t color any coinage, deface, mutilate, or falsify. This means no writing on the top of coins, no painting coins, and the like.

Well, what about melting? Melting coins actually has a weird in-between area where it isn’t okay and it is.

Melting is not illegal if you don’t plan on selling it later.

You cannot, however, melt the coins with the idea of selling.

So, technically, if you don’t want to sell your art or display it in any way at an exhibit, then it is okay.

If you do, in fact, want to sell your art — then it’s best that you come up with a different way to involve coinage in your art.

Laws also change over time and vary, so always be sure to continuously check for any updates when it comes to pennies and coins.

Where Does This Belief Come From?

While it is illegal to completely deface or tamper with U.S. currency like U.S. dollars or coinage, it’s not to simply use it for art purposes.

People usually tread lightly when it comes to putting it in their art exhibits because it is such a gray area in what the terms are for defacing coinage.

For example, you can’t flatten a coin, but you’re free to put many coins together inside of a frame to create something new and unique.

This is why you often see coins unchanged in form, but put all together to create another object.

This belief could also stem from simply browsing online.

Community forums and YouTube videos may show people defacing dollar bills or coins for the sake of film or art.

You’ll see the commotion and arguments between people as they debate on whether or not is in, in fact, illegal to do this.

Since it is a very mixed bag, you’ll get a ton of different answers as far as right or wrong goes.

Is It Illegal to Use Any Other Coins as Art?

It’s the same for all coins.

If you want to use any coins for your art pieces, don’t alter them or melt them down in any way.

This could also result in jail time or fines up to $10,000.

Instead, follow the guides of using them inside picture frames, to create larger structures, or as tables.

When all else fails, you can always use fake currency and coins as art.

It is also illegal to tamper or deface real U.S. bills in any way, so keep this in mind if you decide that you want to use real U.S. bills inside your art exhibit.

Coins and money can offer a truly inspiring way to look at art and at life.

Not only does it provide a physical aspect that is shiny and new to look at, but it can also be great use to show metaphors within your art.

If you truly want to make something different and unique, having coins in your art is definitely a way to do it.

Always be careful, however, of the exact laws when it comes to using coins in your art.

Remember to never mutilate any form of U.S. currency and come up with more creative ways to include it into your art pieces.

Wrap Up

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Is It Illegal To Use Pennies In Art