Regarding the 1853 French 5 Centimes coin purportedly shot thru by famed sharpshooter Annie Oakley, Philip Mernick writes:
So many French (and to a lesser extent Italian) 5 and 10 cents were imported into England to pass as half and one penny coins that their import was prohibited by the Customs Amendment Act of 1886. This means that when Annie Oakley came to London with the Buffalo Bill show in 1887 the logical coin to shoot at would have been one of these now unloved "coppers". They may also have taken a quantity back to the USA. The French 5 cent was bigger than the current US cent and would have made a better target (presumably 2 cent coins would have been hard to find by then).
Tom DeLorey concurs. He writes:
Regarding the alleged Annie Oakley 5 Centimes, there is a plausible explanation for it being used by her as a target: the face value of the coin at the time was approximately one cent U.S. money, but it is a broad, thin coin that would provide a much bigger target than a U.S. Cent of the same value.
Also, because foreign base metal coins had no value in this country, the troupe may have been able to acquire quantities of such coins, or similar base metal foreign coins, at a mere fraction of a cent from bullion dealers who bought foreign coins but did not want to bother attempting to redeem the base metal ones in their countries of origin. The audience, seeing a coin shot out of the air, would not care where it was from.
Now, another question: Where did the bullets come down?