A single curved clip is an exceedingly common planchet error. It
occurs when a blanking die (punch) overlaps an existing hole in the
coin metal strip. The resulting blank incorporates a smoothly curved notch.
Planchets with more than one curved clip are harder to find. The
rarity and value of such errors is commensurate with the number, size
and arrangement of the multiple clips. Coins with more than three
curved clips are quite rare.
I’ve never encountered more than five curved clips on a U.S. coin.
For unknown reasons, you’re most likely to encounter such errors among
1969-S Lincoln cents. The example shown here has a large curved clip
whose midpoint coincides with the 2:00 position. Two small overlapping
curved clips are seen at 11:00, while a second pair of small
overlapping clips appears at 5:00. I’ve encountered several other
1969-S cents with precisely the same pattern, although the specific
clock positions for the five clips differ.
All of the clips on this coin show abnormal spacing relative to
how holes are normally spaced in the coin metal strip once it has
passed through the blanking press (this leftover strip is known as
“webbing”). The blanking dies are arranged in two or three closely
spaced rows, with the dies in each row offset half-a-die-width
relative to the dies in the adjacent row. As a result, the space
between holes is minimized.
In our 1969-S Lincoln cent, the distance between the two sets of
overlapping clips is much wider than the distance between the holes in
normal strip. This is par for the course for coins with multiple
curved clips. The minimum distance between any two clips at roughly
opposite poles is almost always greater than normal. The only
exception is a subset of “bowtie” clips characterized by narrow waists.
Nonexistent or abnormally wide gaps between clips is at least
partly due to strip that respectively advances too slowly or too
quickly beneath the battery of blanking dies. If forward movement
stalls, the blanking dies will overlap some existing holes. If forward
movement is too rapid, an unpunched interval will be left in the webbing.
Although some deny it, there’s every reason to believe that strip
can also shift sideways, at least occasionally. This can occur if the
strip is narrower than the mouth of the blanking press. Tangible
evidence for such narrow strips exists in the form of corner clips
(intersecting straight clips). Corner clips occur when a blanking die
simultaneously overlaps the leading end of the strip and one side the
strip (Collectors’ Clearinghouse, Jan. 14, 2013).
For truly exotic clip arrangements, a third mechanism may be at
work. It’s possible that a blank will somehow get trapped beneath the
moving strip, lag behind and thereby stand a chance of being punched
through multiple times. This is also one possible source of elliptical
clips (Collectors’ Clearinghouse, July 11, 2011).
One such exotic clip arrangement is seen here on an undated cent
with five curved clips. Two large overlapping clips are seen on the
right side. A large clip is seen on the left side. A moderate-sized
clip is seen at 5:00 and a small clip is located at 7:00, beneath
Lincoln’s shoulder. It’s hard to imagine how this arrangement of clips
could have been caused by a simple failure of the strip to advance properly.
The maximum number of curved clips I’ve personally encountered is
six. They can be seen on the illustrated 1982 Mexico 1-peso coin.
Three overlapping curved clips are located in the northeast quadrant
and another trio of overlapping clips is located in the southwest
quadrant. An edge-on view shows the three clips more clearly. This
view also shows the cut-and-tear texture characteristic of many curved
clips. This texture is created when the blanking die forces its way
through the coin metal strip. The blanking die only slices through the
upper half of the strip; the blank actually tears away from the lower
half of the strip.
It’s certainly possible for a coin to have more than six clips. A
coin dealer in my local area claimed to have had a State quarter
dollar with seven clips. However, I never saw the coin and I can’t
vouch for the accuracy of his observation. If any Coin World reader
comes across a U.S. coin with six clips or a world coin with seven
clips, let us know.
Coin World’s Collectors’ Clearinghouse department does
not accept coins or other items for examination without prior
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