A Counterfeit Penny Made of Gold

Seattle artist Jack Daws made eleven pennies by casting them from 18 karat gold and plating them with copper. One of those pennies was sold for $1,000 as a work of art. Another penny was spent at a news stand in Los Angeles. Yes, Daws sent one of the pennies into circulation in 2007 as a counterfeit -on purpose. He expected never to see it again. Over two years later, a graphic designer from Brooklyn noticed a golden gleam on a penny she was given as change. She put it away to investigate later, as she was a fan of unusual coins.
Then recently, while doing research about a 1924 Mercury-head dime, she remembered the penny and typed “gold penny” into Google, which returned information on science experiments to give a penny a gold color. She added “1970” and found an item about how Mr. Daws had put a 18-karat gold penny, dated 1970 with no mint mark, into circulation. It was heavier and smaller than a real penny.

In disbelief, she weighed the penny on a digital scale. It came in at three grams, one gram more than similar pennies from 1970. And it was slightly smaller than a normal penny, owing to the shrinking after the casting process.

She traced Mr. Daws’s phone number through the gallery and left him the message. When he called back, he knew it had to be his penny as soon as she described it to him.

Reed will keep the penny as a work of art. How many other hands did the gold coin pass through before she found it? We will probably never know. Link -Thanks, Bill!

(image credit: Lynn Rogan)

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The "artist" sounds like a moron to me. He even went through the trouble of copper plating it so it more closely resembled a real penny? Why? With $1000 and time to burn, this guy must have been operating on National Endowment for the Arts funds.
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Allen T Garvin,
I only noticed this once, and I didn't check the dates, but I had a pile of wheat pennies at the end of the cycle. I tried to run them through more than once,only to be rejected again. They were the only coins to be turned down. I don't have any explanation.
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The first time I met Jack Daws I drunkenly told him my idea for truly executing the point of that evening's theme. Two weeks later, a friend we have in common mentioned Jack's excellent idea -my idea. I emailed him and asked him to do me the courtesy of not ripping off my idea. He agreed.

A year or two later, I saw my vision showcased in a magazine, perfectly executed, exactly as I described it to him at that show opening.

The gold penny project is conceptual perfection; I wonder who thought of it.
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Coinstars reject wheat pennies? Wheat pennies are the same weight, dimensions and metallic composition as Lincoln memorial pennies that date from 1959 to 1982 (post '82s are majority zinc). While I've never used a coinstar branded machine, the ones in my bank have no trouble accepting copper pennies, a large number of which remain in circulation.

By the way, the best way to find silver coins is to request half-dollars from your bank. In the early 90s, before I had direct deposit, I used to do this everytime I'd drop by to deposit my paycheck. It was pretty common to get one or two 40% silver halves every time I'd request $20 in halves. Also, halves are fun to spend. Unfortunately, they're no longer minting them for circulation (as of 2002), and many banks no longer carry them.
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