While looking through the Dec. 24, 2012, issue of
Coin World, I came across “Case of the moving Mint
mark” illustrated by three different Mint mark locations on some
common-date Jefferson 5-cent coins, shown above.
I was particularly intrigued by the one with the D way out of
normal placement and squeezed between the 5 and the back of
Jefferson’s portrait. Seeking to learn more I went on the Internet and
soon made contact with the provider of the pictures, Mike Diamond. I
was quite excited about the “errant” Mint mark, probably more than
I asked about the rarity of the variety, and Mike said he had two,
both bought on eBay. He offered me one, and after about three seconds
of consideration I bought it for $25. Not that $25 is a lot of money
these days. It will not even buy room service breakfast in an upscale
New York City hotel. But, in the current A Guide Book of United States
Coins, a Mint State 1975-D 5-cent coin is valued at 25 cents. I paid
100 times that figure!
Should I worry? The risk is, of course, that in the hands of other
Coin World readers there might be 100,001 more of them, and the
variety is really common. However, I did note that the mintage of the
1975-D 5-cent coin is 410,875,300. This is more than one coin for
every man, woman, and child living in the United States of America.
Another risk: an inherent danger exists in owning this coin.
As of 2007 it is a criminal offense to melt or export a cent or a
5-cent coin, punishable with a fine up to $10,000 and up to five years
in prison. This means that after it arrives, I must keep my 5-cent
coin away from intense heat, and if per chance I take a motor trip to
Canada (about four hours away), I must be sure I do not take it with me!
As to more serious matters, I don’t know the average life of a
5-cent coin obverse die in 1975, but supposing it was a million coins,
this might mean that the “errant Mint mark 1975-D” 5-cent coin (to
give it a name) is about 400 times less common than the others. Mike
Diamond in his email suggested that the die might have been noticed by
a press operator and taken out of service. Hmmmm. What if only 10,000
were struck? Then my $25 investment is secure!
I will stay tuned, to see if more information comes to light.
Q. David Bowers is chairman emeritus of Stack’s Bowers Galleries
and numismatic director of Whitman Publishing LLC. He can be reached
at his private email, email@example.com,
or at Q. David Bowers LLC, Box 1804, Wolfeboro, NH 03894.