Is 'Bugs Bunny' legitimate?

Do error coins belong in collection?
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Published : 02/03/13
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I noted that 1954 and 1955 Franklin, “Bugs Bunny” half dollars sold at the January Heritage auction. Are these legitimate coins? I never saw them in past “Red Books” and I don’t recall seeing coverage in Coin World.

Are these Bugs Bunny varieties acceptable coins now like overdate coins? Does Coin World recognize these Bugs Bunny varieties as legitimate coins?

If so, will they now be in Coin World’s U.S. values section? If they are, then I would need to add them to a half dollar collection, but only if they are recognized by Coin World as a real variety.

Laurence Brody

Torrance, Calif.

The nickname “Bugs Bunny” is given to certain Franklin half dollars bearing clash marks projecting from the vicinity of Benjamin Franklin’s mouth. The clash marks were transferred from the eagle’s feathers on the reverse, when obverse and reverse dies came together without an intervening planchet, or “clashed.” The clashed feathers vaguely resemble the buck teeth of Bugs Bunny.

The Bugs Bunny half dollars are legitimate coins, but they are not listed as die varieties in standard reference works like A Guide Book of United States Coins (the Red Book) and Coin World’s U.S. values section for various reasons. Although the coins are popular with some collectors, standard price guides have limited space for listing die varieties, die stages and die states.

For example, Coin World’s values section lists fewer than a dozen doubled die varieties for the Lincoln cent series, yet more than a thousand individual doubled die varieties have been identified for the Lincoln cent series alone.

In deciding whether to add a variety or related coin to its price guides, Coin World looks at the marketplace and asks: Is this coin significant enough to list? Is there a history of broad collector interest in this coin? Is there a strong two-way market for this coin? Will we be able to obtain accurate pricing information?

Using these criteria, the Bugs Bunny half dollars do not currently warrant inclusion. Nonetheless, they are legitimate error coins and are considered collectible.

The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins does list the 1955 Franklin, Bugs Bunny half dollar. This reference is a specialized work, in that it focuses solely on die varieties. The book is not all-inclusive; it does not list all die varieties.

Ultimately, each collector decides what to collect. If a collector wants to collect the Bugs Bunny coins, great! If not, that is OK as well.

Coin World’s Readers Ask department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from Coin World. Readers Ask also does not examine error or variety coins. Materials sent to Readers Ask without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Readers Ask inquiries to cweditor@coinworld.com or call 800-673-8311, Ext. 172.

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