Ohio Penitentiary inmates counterfeit United States coins from within prison walls

Coin Lore: Guests of the state had too much time on their hands
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 07/28/16
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The Dispatch reported, “Acting Warden William F. Amrine revealed that counterfeiting of coins had been going on within the walls and that some 900 bogus dimes had been trucked out of the prison and placed in general circulation.

“The acting warden said the dimes had been taken from the prison ‘some time ago’ on a truck.”

Each dime was worth about $1.75 in today’s money.

Amrine said fake nickels, dimes, quarter dollars and half dollars “were made from materials obtained inside the walls.” 

“The prisoners’ counterfeiting activities produced some coins considered good semblances of mint-milled money, while others were very crude. All could easily be detected by their dull ‘ring’ when dropped,” Amrine said.

The Pen, which operated from 1834 to 1984, was home to several famous prisoners, including Confederate raider John Morgan, author O. Henry, and Sam Shephard, the real-life “Fugitive.” 

The prison was razed in 1989.

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