An outstanding early 20th century off-metal, double-denomination Mint error with, amazingly, two full dates visible. Early off-metal coins are extremely rare, and double-denomination errors even more so. The surfaces are radiant, with full Mint luster, silver brilliance, and virtually no marks--certainly none worthy of mention. The assigned grade seems conservative considering the quality that is obvious upon inspection.
Since the obverses of both the Barber Dime and the Indian Head Cent are on the same side, the central details of the Indian Head are remarkably sharp with bold definition of LIBERTY, all diamonds in the hair ribbon, and some other elements as well. This is quite unusual on such errors. Likewise, the dentilated rims are nicely struck up around both sides, with the Barber Dime having been nearly perfectly centered as the planchet for the striking of the Indian Head Cent. The flattened design of the Barber Dime is also easily detected, including the full date, 1906. Five letters of the dime's LIBERTY are seen, as are the leaves adorning the head of the central motif. The reverse is similarly well defined, with the different wreaths overlapping and ONE CENT over ONE DIME easily seen. The edge is crisply reeded, as one would expect to find on a Barber Dime.
The present coin is featured as Coin Number 20 in the 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins book by Nicholas P. Brown, David J. Camire and Fred Weinberg. There is just one other example of this error coin known, that being an 1899 cent overstruck on an 1899 dime, a circulated coin graded as AU-53 by NGC. The present coin is the finest example of this error by a very wide margin. The fact that there are two visible dates makes it that much more exciting.
Though ranked at Number 20 in the book, it is impossible to look at this coin without being immediately reminded of the error coin that earned the Number 2 ranking, the famous gold Indian cents struck on quarter eagle planchets. The allure of these coins is naturally increased by the fact that they are gold, but a case could be made that the present coin should be ranked higher by a few measures, the chief reason being that there are just two known Indian cents on dimes. In any event, the gold Indian cents have commanded incredible prices in recent times, with the highest auction record being the $276,000 realized for the 1906-dated example, graded AU-58, in our (Stack's) September 2009 Sale. With the price records for great error coins continuing to reach higher levels, we expect this coin to be the subject of considerable competition when it crosses the block.