If you have our Pennies from Heaven with a cross cut out of them, you may have been asked the same thing. Everyone has an opinion and there is a lot of misinformation on the web about this, so to clear this up we went directly to the source - The U.S Treasury, to get the answer.
"Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who “fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States.” This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent. " Excerpt taken from https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Coins/Pages/edu_faq_coins_portraits.aspx
This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin AND fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. The law is requiring both items (fraudulently + deface) to qualify for violation, not just altering.
The key word is “fraudulently.” Basically you can’t make it something it’s not, like whittling down a penny to be the shape of a dime and inserting it into coin machines to get a 10 cent credit. In the case of our Pennies from Heaven it is still a penny, an altered penny.
Think of the coin smashing souvenir machines at amusement parks and museums. If it were illegal to turn a coin into art, those machines would not exist.
The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky has 3 penny smashing machines, this one pictured is on the second deck of the ark.
Walt Disney World has several located throughout their park and lists the locations on their website here:
So the next time someone asks you if it is illegal to damage or deface coins you can explain what the letter of the law really means and point them to visit the U.S. Treasury website for all the facts about the law.
The whole idea behind Airstrike is easy practical tools to share the Gospel. Christians should be able to share their faith in unique ways—especially in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond..
You should be able to bless others, and share your faith in unique and interesting ways that start conversations about our Lord. That’s why our founder, Jason Fetko, originally created Airstrike and our line of cross pennies—known as “Pennies from Heaven”—that can easily help you share your faith with others.
The Airstrike products come in deluxe velvet bags that fit in the palm of your hand. Pennies from Heaven, are all mixed years and have many different shades from dark to light; 2020 Pennies from Heaven, are brand new and shiny; Pennies from Heaven Cut-Outs, are the little crosses that come from the Pennies from Heaven.
Our founder, Jason Fetko, created our original Airstrike pennies and gospel tracts. As a Christian, "I used to be afraid to start a conversation with a stranger to share my faith. I felt more comfortable after I found that it was easy to offer someone a free unique gift, most people like gifts."
“So now I carry Pennies from Heaven or Million Dollar Bill gospel tracts in my pocket and I use them as a witness tool on a daily basis. They are portable and definitely a conversation starter,” Jason would say. “I do not "force" my beliefs on anyone, but I ask them if they got one of these and hand them a penny.
If they ask questions (and they will when they see these), it gives me the opportunity that I am looking for to share my faith.
“I absolutely love sharing the crosss penny and cards I love how it makes people feel.Thank u for making them.” — Jana
In a time when so many of our goods are made overseas, it’s nice to support family run businesses that sell merchandise 100% made in the USA..
When you buy American, you help to keep local businesses strong and support domestic job growth at the same time.