A Rare Error, Indeed

Several times a week we get calls from customers with “Rare Error” coins for sale.  Due to rampant misinformation on the internet, members of the public are quickly convinced that their damaged and circulated coins are rare and valuable errors.  This is a battle we fight every day, to the disappointment of many callers to our gallery.  Getting new collectors interested in the hobby will feed the market for years to come, but this sort of disinformation in pursuit of online profits continues to cause problems. And then there’s this coin…

A woman came in some weeks ago with an odd looking coin she got from her bank.  It was a modern Jefferson nickel with a normal reverse, but no Jefferson profile on the obverse.  Instead, a dimly impressed image of Monticello was visible on that side, but with the lettering backward!  This image of the building was perfectly centered, but was much bigger, with some of the design and lettering off the edge of the coin.  Both the design and the lettering are incuse –  pressed into the metal, rather than raised above it. 

This is known as a “brockage,” and it occurs when a coin gets stuck to the die during the minting process.  A new planchet is then fed into the dies, and the stuck-on coin now functions as the die, impressing its design into the blank planchet.  Each time the coin strikes another planchet, the design gets wider as the “host coin” deforms with each impact.  Normally, the host coin falls off the die after one or two impacts but, the longer it stays in place, the greater the deformation until eventually the design becomes unrecognizable.

This specimen is perfectly centered and readable, and is ideal for error specialists seeking a textbook example of this unique and charming error. I expect it to bring much attention in one of our upcoming auctions.

To contact our Philadelphia gallery call 267-609-1804 or email [email protected].

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