Not all counterfeiting is limited to paper bills or collectible coins. Although fake antique gold and silver U.S. coins are currently flooding the U.S. market, in 1954 Frank Henning started to produce his own 5-cent piece. Although Henning coins were “new” he mixed various dyes together to make them look old and concentrated on producing coins dated 1939, 1944, 1945, 1947, and 1953. Unfortunately for Henning, his attention to detail on these coins were weak at best especially on “Monticello” and the “R” in “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Henning’s biggest mistake was on the 1944 wartime issue of leaving out the mint mark above Monticello.
In 1954 he bought a machine for $6,800 designed to make buttons and was able to produce 300,000 coins or about $15,000 worth of 5-cent pieces. When making large deposits at banks in nickels he explained that he owned a bunch of vending machines. A bank teller reported $2.40 in fake coins to the FBI, who in turn contacted local banks to be aware. Once Henning realized they were on to him, he dumped approximately 200,000 nickels into the Cooper River at Haddonfield, NJ, only of which 14,000 were recovered and fled to Ohio. Once caught he was busy making $5 counterfeit bills. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison and fined $5,000.
When asked why he did it, his response was “to pay for the debt of the purchase of the machine to produce the 5-cent piece”.