The following is the fourth of four parts from the cover feature of
the Feb. 6, 2017, monthly issue of Coin World:
An unusual altered coin collecting specialty focuses on pieces
referred to as pop-out, pushed-out or repoussé coins.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica.com, repoussé is “a
method of decorating metals in which parts of the design are raised in
relief from the back or the inside of the article by means of hammers
and punches; definition and detail can then be added from the front by
chasing or engraving.
“The name repoussé is derived from the French pousser, ‘to push
forward.’ This ancient technique, which has been used extensively
throughout the history of metalworking, achieved widespread popularity
in Europe during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.”
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Collectors may encounter the 3-D artistry rendered on most U.S. coin denominations.
The design given 3-D proportions may not necessarily be the design
originally struck into the coin, but there are exceptions.
For example, one may encounter a pushed-out rendition of John F.
Kennedy forced from the reverse of a Kennedy half dollar.
Collector Oded Paz provided images that appear nearby illustrating a
pair of repoussé dies used for executing a pushed-out coin.
One of the repoussé dies bears the raised design while the other
bears a recessed area into which the raised die is forced under
pressure, with a coin between serving as the host planchet.
The amount of pressure exerted determines how far the repoussé die
pushes its design out from the surface of the struck coin.
Many examples are available for a few dollars each to a few hundred
dollars each, depending on the coin used as the host planchet.
A repoussé 1898-S Coronet gold $20 double eagle realized $3,220 in a
January 2014 public sale by Heritage Auctions.
Encased coins are extensions of ringed-bimetallism — pieces that are
composed of an outer ring with a hole in the center and an inner core,
each piece of the coin made of a different composition.
Collecting encased coins is a relatively inexpensive hobby, with
plenty of opportunities to add to one’s collection. However, while
many encased coins, even some of the earliest issues, can be obtained
for a few dollars each, acquiring the rarest pieces may cost in the
low four figures.
Part of the allure of collecting encased coins is the history behind
the issuance of various specific pieces.
Ringed-bimetallic coins have been issued for centuries. On special
occasions, the Roman Empire issued large medallions with a center of
bronze or copper and an outer ring of orichalcum — a golden-colored
bronze alloy — starting with the reign of Hadrian (117 to 138 A.D.).
Other pieces include examples known dating from the 17th century England.
The primary purpose of a modern day encased coin is as an
advertising or promotional piece, so they are often made to be carried
in one’s pocket or the encasement is holed for suspension on a key
chain or fob. The pieces can be used to advertise or serve as a
souvenir of an event; to promote a coin or other business; or to
advertise a coin show.
Most encased coins — usually small cents, for United States
encasements — consist of the coin as one element, inserted into a
central opening of the other element, an outer encasement.
For some pieces, only the obverse or the reverse of the coin is left
visible, as the opposite side is completely covered by the encasement.
The earliest encased U.S. coins usually are Indian Head cents. Later
issues featured different designs as coin series changed. Collectors
should have no problem finding examples of encasements containing
Indian Head cents, Lincoln cents, Indian Head and Jefferson 5-cent
coins, Winged Liberty Head and Roosevelt dimes, and even Morgan silver dollars.
World coins are also popular inserts and can be found in encasements
issued in the United States as well as those from the coins’ country
Manufacturers and issuers of encased coins often select coins dated
corresponding to the date of an event the encased souvenir is
promoting or commemorating.
As well, many advertising pieces are known that were issued using
coins dated earlier than the date of the encasement’s release,
suggesting likely no effort was made to select coins of any particular date.
While an actual encasement is most often circular in shape, other
shapes are known, such as a chamber pot, a bean pot, a teddy bear, a
horseshoe, a bell and other noncircular designs.
Encased coins can also be found embedded in other types of
encasements, such as on a pocketknife, in an advertising mirror, in a
ring or even the handle of an eating utensil, among other placements.
Lincoln cents from the 1930s can be found, usually with the obverse
exposed, secured in soft-drink bottle caps whose crenulated edges are
crimped or tamped down to keep the coin in place.
Pieces are seen offered on eBay and elsewhere, many squeezed into
bottle caps that advertise Dad’s Root Beer.
Encased coins became particularly popular with the increased use of
aluminum, an inexpensive, easily formed metal, noted Bryan G. Ryker in
Frederick Earl Fankhauser: “The Penny Man,” His Life and Work
With Encased Coins. Fankhauser sold encased coins for 18 years,
beginning in 1948.
The Fort Wayne, Ind., numismatist/dealer took encasing coins to the
extreme. So enamored was Fankhauser with encasing coins that he is
credited with issuing nearly 700 different encasements for customers
during the 1950s and 1960s, including pieces promoting his own business.
Encased coins were seen as an inexpensive form of advertising, even
in the early years of the 20th century. Sales were interrupted by
conservation efforts during World War II, but resumed soon after.
To pass the time in trenches and foxholes while awaiting
confrontation with the enemy or already ensconced in a prisoner of war
camp, soldiers resorted to a number of diversions.
Soldiers would repurpose copper munitions, bits of brass, bronze,
cap badges, badge parts and the like.
Among such World War I relics are miniature military caps
incorporating the use of 1907 British pennies.
Collectors pursuing these extended areas of exonumia will quickly
find that coins serve multiple purposes beyond their use as money.
Keep reading this series on collectible coin art:
Altering coins into love tokens,
hobo nickels and rings creates collectible art:
Federal statutes make it a crime to purposely deface United
States coins to intentionally pass them off as something they are
not. But art is another matter.
Hobo nickels enjoying numismatic resurgence, as
new artists start carving:
The Indian Head 5-cent coin, often called a Buffalo nickel, has
often been the coin of choice for carving a hobo nickel.
The art of elongating a coin more than a
The field of elongated coin collecting is in a state of perpetual
expansion as many new designs are issued annually.