Ask SAM added to shell 110518

Q: Some friends are sharing an NBC news story that says that clothing with the flag on it is “technically illegal.” I thought that was not the case. What’s the truth?


Answer: Flags themselves should not be used for wearing apparel, bedding or drapery, or used on any costume or athletic uniform, according to the U.S. Flag Code. However, that refers to items made from an actual flag, not clothing that has a flag design on it.

“Unless an article of clothing is made from an actual United States flag, there is NO breach of flag etiquette whatsoever,” according to the American Legion. “People are simply expressing their patriotism and love of country by wearing an article of clothing that happens to be red, white and blue with stars and stripes. There is nothing illegal about the wearing or use of these items.”

Also, bear in mind that even if clothing is made from an actual flag, the flag code is not legally enforceable.

According to a congressional report from 2008, “While wearing the colors may be in poor taste and offensive to many, it is important to remember that the Flag Code is intended as a guide to be followed on a purely voluntary basis to insure proper respect for the flag. It is, at least, questionable whether statutes placing civil or criminal penalties on the wearing of clothing bearing or resembling a flag could be constitutionally enforced in light of Supreme Court decisions in the area of flag desecration.”

Q: How much are a 1963 Lincoln penny or a wheat penny worth?


Answer: That depends on their condition.

“As a rough estimate of (a 1963 penny’s) value you can assume this coin in average condition will be valued at somewhere around 1 cent, while one in certified mint state (MS+) condition could bring as much as $15 at auction,” according to a report at, a website devoted to coin collecting. “3.07 million proofs were used as proof 1963 pennies,” the report adds. “They are selling for up to $1.75 each.”

Wheat pennies were issued from 1909 to 1958, so the value of them varies wildly, but they are often still fairly common and can still be readily found in circulation, according to CoinTrackers. “A good rule of thing is that they are worth at least three or four cents even in poor condition,” but those in better condition are worth more; the site says that ones in exceptionally good condition, which are not likely to have ever been in circulation, can go for more than $10.

Judging from the photo you attached with your email, the pennies you have do not appear to be in anywhere near mint condition, which would literally be in as good a condition as when it was first minted, without wear and tear.

If you want to find out more about coin collecting, you should get in touch with a collecting group in your area. Locally, you can find more about the Winston-Salem Coin Club at You can also find out more about coin collecting, including explanations of proof sets and more, at


“A nice man paid for lunch for four women on Sunday at Cagney’s. Thank you!” — B.B., M.W., R.B. and V.S.

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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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