US Coins

Mint plans end of mutilated coin exchange program, seeks comments

This mixed load of mutilated U.S. dimes and quarter dollars was from a commercial vendor and intended for submission to the U.S. Mint for redemption, before the United States Mint suspended its Mutilated Coin Redemption Program on Nov. 2, 2015.

Image courtesy of FormerFeds.

The United States Mint’s management is seeking public comment through July 2 on the bureau’s announcement May 3 in the Federal Register that it plans to close its Mutilated Coin Redemption Program pertaining to the face value exchange of bent and partial coins.

In the May 3 announcement, Mint officials explain that the program not only operates at a loss but is too cumbersome to practically manage, because the sheer volume of coins submitted for replacement numbers in the millions. Some of the submissions have included numerous counterfeit United States coins, which resulted in lawsuits and an indefinite suspension of the Mutilated Coin Redemption Program.

In its May 3 summary, the bureau explains “the United States Mint proposes to remove its regulation relating to the exchange of bent and partial coins. The proposed removal will end the exchange program for bent and partial coin. This [Federal Register] document also withdraws the notice of proposed rulemaking relating to these same regulations that was published in the Federal Register for May 5, 2021.”

Comment submission

Public comments may be sent to the United States Mint in several ways:
➤ Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for sending comments.
➤ Postal mail: Submit all written comments to Mutilated Coin Redemption Program; Manufacturing Directorate; United States Mint; 801 9th Street NW; Washington, DC 20220.
➤ Hand Delivery/Courier: Same as postal mail address.
➤ Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.
➤ For further information contact Apryl Whitaker, Senior Legal Counsel, Office of the Chief Counsel, United States Mint, by telephone at 202-354-7938 or via email at rulemaking@usmint.treas.gov.

 

Closure reasoning

For years the U.S. Mint redeemed bent and partial coins for full face value, with most of coins submitted in small quantities from private citizens. The volume of coins to be redeemed subsequently increased exponentially, with large submission coming from commercial entities including recyclers from China who flooded the program with coins totaling in the millions of dollars face value, including counterfeits.

Coin World’s coverage of the recycling submissions that resulted in the bureau suspending the redemption program indefinitely and taking the recyclers to federal court can be found online at:
https://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/mint-readying-resumption-of-mutilated-coin-redemption.html
https://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/mint-proposes-rules-for-mutilated-coin-submissions
https://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/us-mint-suspends-mutilated-coin-redemption-program.html
https://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/complaint-filed-over-seized-mutilated-coins.html

Additional Coin World articles can be accessed online by searching the publication’s website and inserting “site:coinworld.com mutilated” as the URL address.

Flooding the mutilated coin redemption program with coins to be redeemed contributed to the Mint’s finding no practical way to expand resources to handle such demand.

According to the Mint’s May 3, 2024, Federal Register notice, “This is particularly true where submissions must be carefully evaluated to ensure that counterfeit coins are not accepted to the program and where the condition of many coins, particularly large volumes of coins damaged by recycling or industrial processes, makes authentication difficult and time-consuming.” The notice continued: “An increasing number of counterfeits has been identified in imported coins intercepted by law enforcement in recent years, as well as in several large submissions to the Mutilated Coin Redemption Program. The United States Mint Philadelphia facility’s capacity to process mutilated coins is limited by physical storage capacity, caseload complexity, and workload.”

By closing the bent and partial coin exchange program, resources can be better redistributed to other Mint operations, according to the Federal Register notice.

While the melting of dimes, quarters, half-dollar, and dollar coins is not regulated by the United States Mint, there is a prohibition against the melting of cents and 5-cent coins unless a special license is secured.

“The public may melt and reuse certain coins consistent with 31 CFR part 82,” according to the U.S. Mint. “While there is a prohibition against melting pennies and nickels, there is a specific exception at 31 CFR 82.2 for coins melted or treated incidental to recycling other materials if (1) the coins were not added to the other materials for their metallurgical value, (2) the volumes of the coins, relative to the volumes of the other materials recycled, makes it clear that the presence of such coins is merely incidental, and (3) the separation of the coins from the other materials would be impracticable or cost prohibitive. See 31 CFR 82.2(c). This exception extends to the melting of coins that become mutilated due to treatment that is itself within the scope of the exception.

“If an exception does not apply, then applications for licenses to melt pennies and nickels should be transmitted to the Director, United States Mint; 801 9th Street NW; Washington, DC 20220. See 31 CFR 82.2(f).”

Anybody who knowingly ignores these laws and melts and sells, or exports mass quantities of cents and/or 5-cent coins has up to $10,000 in fines to look forward to, five years in prison, or possibly both.

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