Introduction: Penny Love Token

Picture of Penny Love Token

Dating as far back to 1740, small coins have been twisted to make love tokens.

I have been married 8 times, 7 times when I was 5 years old (I really liked candy) and now with my current wife. Even though I never got divorced from my previous 7 marriages; my wife still wanted me. So to make her my Valentine every year - I try and make her different things - like a love token.

I wanted to share my version of a Penny Love Token.

My wife keeps them in her coin purse.

Please note: I am not a lawyer, I looked up years ago and everything I read said it was ok to bend a coin. When I was at Disney land; I used a penny smasher or press to make a souvenir.

So all I can say is -do what you feel comfortable with.

Step 1: ​Gather Items and Tools

Picture of ​Gather Items and Tools

Penny Coins

It is said that if you get older than 1981 coins, they will have a greater amount of copper in them. Just to be safe I use 1980 or older pennies. The older copper pennies bend in this process.

Newer pennies will just break in my bending process.


I use a small metal bench vise with smooth faced jaws – without serrated jaws.

A non-marring hammer


Buffer or cleaner

Step 2: ​Think in Thirds

Picture of ​Think in Thirds

I put approximately 1/3 of the coin in the vise and tighten

I strike the coin over with the hammer.

I flip the coin over and put approximately 1/3 of the coin in the vise and tighten.

I strike the coin with the hammer over in the opposite direction of the previous side.

What I have seen of traditional love coins

– I would describe as a wave or Z pattern

– one side bent in one direction and the other in the opposite.

Step 3: Finished and Options

Picture of Finished and Options

This my version of love coins

Optional bends

I bend them in different directions - see photos.

The one completely folded into a ring, could be put on a string for a necklace or key-chain.

Optional appearance

You can clean or polish if you wish

My wife keeps them in her coin purse.


nigel.trewartha (author)2016-04-21

Right, I think that is really enough!

Landroo (author)2016-04-03

According to Title 18, U. S. C. section 331, it is illegal to "fraudulently alter, deface, mutilate, impair, diminish, falsify, scale, or lighten any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States".

lairdkeffer (author)Landroo2016-04-03

Never fails we always get that one guy ..."crushing coins is illegal " long as a mutilated coin is not being altered with the intent to counterfeit, then all is fine ...other wise Zoo's, Museums ,them Parks and other places that have those penny crushers would all be shut down PDQ

@lairdkeffer: If what Landroo has written is correct, then you are very wrong.

It does clearly state defacing... etc is illegal.Note that falsify is an extra word .

But I doubt if that black helicopters and men absailing down to the lairdkeffer household is a threat....

Dr.Z2 (author)nigel.trewartha2016-04-03

Key word "fraudulently".

Landroo (author)Dr.Z22016-04-05

The word "fraudulently" simply means intentionally, in contrast to "accidentially."

JeffersonT2 (author)Landroo2016-04-21

Incorrect fraudently means doing somthing with deceit...

nigel.trewartha (author)Dr.Z22016-04-04

sorry. but no. The keywords are "fraudulently alter" ie changing stamped value

The other words deface, mutilate, impair, diminish stand on their own.

But I read that Museums etc offer Penny Crusher service obviously all is OK.

Apparently landroo doesn't know what "fraudulently alter" means. It applies only if you have criminal intent to profit through forgery or counterfeiting. Has nothing to do with making jewelry from coins.

, U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 17, Section 331 prohibits "the mutilation, diminution and falsification of United States coinage." The foregoing statute however, does not prohibit the mutilation of coins, if the mutilated coins are not used fraudulently, i.e. with the intention of creating counterfeit coinage or profiting from the base metal (the pre-1982 copper U.S. cent which is worth more than one cent in the United States if melted down into copper bullion )

there for smashing a penny into a "Love Token " is 100% legal

Shaving the out side of a penny off to collect copper is illegal
which is also one of he main reasons why Quarters and Dimes have ridges :Before the 18th-century was out, the U.S. Mint began adding ridges to the coins' edges, a process called “reeding,” in order to make it impossible to shave them down without the result being obvious. As a side benefit, the reeded edges also made coin design more intricate and counterfeiting more difficult

Laral (author)lairdkeffer2016-04-03

When I was a kid, we put pennies on train tracks and let the passing train smear them out to a long thin 'puddle'. I remember the first time I did it I was afraid the pennies would derail the train. LOL

lairdkeffer (author)Laral2016-04-03

I did that as a kid and had the same fear, or worse the penny would shoot out and kill me lol

Laral (author)lairdkeffer2016-04-03

Apparently we were/are not alone. There are a lot of hits on Google for penny on the tracks derail train - Google Search.

I also found this on Snopes: Iron Unhorsed. Apparently people were killed doing this when a train came along on the other track that they were standing on. Ewww… I can remember also how terrifying the oncoming train was at just a few feet away, crouching down in the brush. I couldn't help thinking what would happen if the train DID derail. I didn't even think about objects flying off the fast moving train. I shudder to think how naive we were at that age and how lucky we are to be alive.

Laral (author)lairdkeffer2016-04-03

Heh heh heh… YUP! Just what I was thinking.

JeffersonT2 (author)Landroo2016-04-21

It is ilegal to deface money, but making jewelry or something is not illegal. Such as quarter rings that people make, search it up, do a little research, its not illegal...

DEEJAY642 (author)Landroo2016-04-03

who gives a rats bum!!!! the laws can go jump!! there are soooo many of the dumb things already so just imagine what its going to be like in 4 or 5 years!!!! people wont even be able to walk down to the dairy and buy some sweets without identity and drivers licence!!!!!!!!

Landroo (author)DEEJAY6422016-04-03

What a bunch of codwallop. I'm not claiming anything or trying to make any case. What argument? You are imagining things, Iomnicks.

What has pushback to do with anything? Do you think it confers truth in some way?.

DEEJAY642 (author)Landroo2016-04-05

no!!!! not at all!!!

Gadget93 (author)Landroo2016-04-04

I think I'll melt down a nickel and a quarter and cast it into a clay mold of a penny. I'll do it three times. Then I'll try to buy something from a street bum with those pennies.

criffster (author)Landroo2016-04-03

key word, "fraudulently".

lomnicks (author)Landroo2016-04-03

Interesting law bit Landroo. You seem to be gathering a lot of push back based on the whole 'fraudulent' intent thing. You could really improve your argument by including a list of all the federal court sentences passed down on people for defacing pennies. I look forward to seeing it. Thanks much!.

geodesandalex (author)2016-04-08

This is really cool, but I think it might be okay to bend coins, and pennies are worth so little, that it probably won't matter.

Dutch_from_Oz (author)2016-04-03

"fraudulently alter, deface, mutilate, impair, diminish, falsify..."

I would contend the federal government already did the "diminish" and "falsify" part by substituting zinc for copper. If they did not do so "fraudulently", then it is hard to make a case that any other use is any more or less fraudulent--short of melting them down into bullion, to sell for profit. (Is it profitable to sell the melt copper, after factoring the cost of fuel for a burner capable of the necessary heat?)

xanman12 (author)2016-04-03

I think Landroo was just telling you it exists , not that he cares if you do it or not . Just looking up the facts for us . Thanks Landroo :)

Anne-Marie77 (author)2015-06-19

I love the way you started the intstuctions! Also a fantastic project

mmmallori (author)2014-05-15

Super duper easy! Took less that 5 minutes to make 3!!

Fikjast Scott (author)mmmallori2014-05-18

I am so glad - thank you for sharing your comment.

emmae21 (author)2014-03-26

I want to try thos

Fikjast Scott (author)emmae212014-03-26

It is a nice project, remember to get older pennies (1980 or older). Thank you for the comment.

georgegobble (author)2014-03-07

Need to make one out of a 50 cent piece for our 50th. year Anniversary. Could be done fro 5-10-25 or any combination of years.

I like this idea of matching time with the coin
thanks for the comment

thegrendel (author)2014-03-07

Great idea! It would be interesting to try this with old silver dimes -- non-collectible ones, of course.

Fikjast Scott (author)thegrendel2014-03-07

thank you for viewing.
I will have to try the dime idea. great suggestion.

spark master (author)2014-03-07

Hi Stan,

Is this what you were talking about

now filing down the back of coins to mirror finish makes lots of sense!

indoor small scale shuffle board of sorts. At school some kids played "football" with a strip of paper folded up to a triangle. You had 3 snaps of the finger to get it across a desk to "do a hanger" over the edge for a point, or you could do a kick by standing the triangle thing on one end and snapping it. The other person had to hold his thumb forefingers in position to make goal post and the flicked "ball" had to go over them for the point.

Your game of half penny looks harder by the rules!


lovethebackwoods (author)2014-03-06

Very nicely done - I can't wait to get home and try it - thanks! The only thing I would suggest to add is that any time one is working with pounding things, carving, pouring (chemicals or even household items), and similar work, safety glasses are a great precaution to remember. A neighbor who was chopping fireplace wood hit something harder than his axe, a tiny metal splinter went into one eye, and it cost all kinds of out-of-pocket money to save his vision. Thanks for sharing this really neat 'ible! :-)

I agree, I have donated a few dozen safety glasses to the local childrens clubs. Long hair around moving equipment is another concern of mine.
I will try and put somehing in future projects.

Great topic
thank you for your comments

LobosSolos (author)2014-03-06

OK, the law specifically excludes pennies when speaking of defacing them.

And the newer pennies are zinc with a thin copper shell. If you take a knife then you can actually scratch through the copper and expose the zinc. If you then stick them in an acid bath over night you will wind up with hollow copper pennies.

Fikjast Scott (author)LobosSolos2014-03-07

Thank you for your comments.
I believe if you go to a Souvenir penny smasher it spells this out.

Stan1y (author)2014-03-03

Annealing copper coins makes them much easier to bend in the case of UK pennies this is 1998 or before after this they became copper plated steel so test with a magnet in the case of US Pennies I think they became copper plated zinc at some point. Annealing a solid copper penny is very simple hold in a gas flame (using long nosed pliers) untill it is glowing red and drop it in cold water. It is now soft enough to bend just using two pairs of pliers once bent drop in a pot of ordinary vinegar for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse with water to remove any remaing copper oxide from the annealing process

Fikjast Scott (author)Stan1y2014-03-03

this is why I like instructables, I never thought of using a torch. Here - 1981 or older is copper, to be safe - I use 1980 or older. I know that using a torch on new pennies (what ever metal is in them), just turns the penny into a puddle.

Oh great suggestion on the vinegar for cleaning. My buffing process, can take off the detail of the coin - if you are not careful.

Hey thanks for the nice comment.

On a side note; do they still play shov a 1/2 penny????? (not sure of the exact name). It is a pub game of pushing a coin up a lined board.

Stan1y (author)Fikjast Scott2014-03-04

Even though it is still one of the few games permited to be played in a pub for small stakes (the price of a beer) the others are I think cribage darts and skittles I only know of a couple of places localy that have a board and it isn't often played that I know of. I do own a board myself, the regulation 'coins' are hard to come by now but I remmber making a set from old (ship) half pennies when I was about 12 it took me ages sand the heads off with wet and dry paper on a sheet of glass for flatness, they are exactly 1" diameter and 1/16" thick I can let you have the dimensions of a board if you like but won't be able to measure it untill the weekend. Some where in the back of my mind I think quarters are their own thickness short of 1" in diameter so if you made the beds 1" wide you could play shove quarters instead.

nfarrow (author)Stan1y2014-03-06

what the coin game called?

Stan1y (author)nfarrow2014-03-06

Shove Hap'ny presumably because it was originally played with real half pennies the rugulation 'coins) are brass discs of the same dimensions as an old half penny with a hole in the middle tha make the wieght the same and importantly smooth on one side so as not to damage the playing board

spark master (author)Stan1y2014-03-06

What is the game mentioned here. Skittles in the USA is a candy. Could you not just take copper washers and do the same?(game wise, not Love Coins)



Stan1y (author)spark master2014-03-06

Shove Hap'ny is a different game I'm clearly going to have to dig the board out and do an instructable on how to play lol

Stan1y (author)spark master2014-03-06

Skittles in the UK are the same candy the game of skittles is a bit different Ten pin bowling is sometimes called skittles here, but the game of skittles played in pubs uses 9 pins about 12" high and at most 3" diameter they are aranged in a diamond about a foot square on a padded table about 3' square with sides and back stop nets you stand abour 15' away and try and knock all the pins down by throwing 3 cheeses at them these are discs of hard rubber about 6" diameter and 2" thick. I think the max score with 3 cheeses is 27 as if you knock them all down with the first you stand them up again and have 2 more throws

Fikjast Scott (author)Stan1y2014-03-04

Please, you do not need to dig anything out for me. You are right, I can adapt the concept and rules to another coin. I was just just wondering. I romanticize about modest times, where things were simpler.
Your recall of sanding of the coins gave me a nice mental image.

Take care

Stan1y (author)Fikjast Scott2014-03-04

I thought the ratios of lengths to widths and how much bigger than the coins the beds were might be useful

Fikjast Scott (author)Stan1y2014-03-04

Your right, I am sure there was a lot of thought or beer put into the design.

snoopindaweb (author)2014-03-06

Hi, I seen one instructable with coins, the maker called the National Treasury (His Instructable may findable here yet). In it He gave the name and contact information of the Lady that told Him that if the coinage is rendered unusable it was permitted.

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