I am submitting photos of a 1985-D Jefferson 5-cent coin that has
some interesting artifacts. My guess is that the coin was squeezed
between two coins and the two coins left impressions on my coin.
The obverse shows the outline of a coin across Jefferson’s head.
The reverse has the number 3 (I think) and the imprint of a star at 10 o’clock.
The mystery! What coin could leave an imprint as displayed by my
coin? Was the impression made when the coin was minted? The number 3
appears to be a part of a date but why does the number 3 appear on a
coin that was minted in 1985? Or is the imprinted number an 8 instead
of a 3? What U.S. coin has a number and a star like those on my 5-cent coin?
Reader Keffer’s 1985-D Jefferson 5-cent coin does bear designs
impressed into it by other coins, but the processes by which the extra
design elements were added to his coin did not occur at the Denver
Mint, where it was struck.
The reader’s coin is a form of commonly encountered, post-minting
alteration called a “sandwich coin.” Two or more coins are stacked,
one atop another, and pressure is applied. The pressure forces design
elements from one coin into the adjacent coin. Because design elements
on coins are generally raised, they leave incused or sunken
impressions on the adjacent coins.
An examination of the extra numeral on the rim of Keffer’s coin
shows it to be an 8 rather than a 3. However, with a sandwich coin
alteration, combinations of dates and even denominations in a stack of
coins do not have to make any sort of logical sense. All the alterer
has to do is grab two or more handy coins, place them in a stack and
get to work. The impressed 8 matches the appearance and size of the
numerals in the date of a 5-cent coin. Likewise, the star on the
reverse rim also matches that on the obverse of a pre-2005 Jefferson
The reverse side of the coin appears to have accepted several
impressions of the obverse of another Jefferson 5-cent coin. It seems
that pressure was applied to the stack of coins at least twice, with a
shift in position of the adjacent coin between the attacks. One
exertion of pressure formed the 8; another formed the star.
On the obverse, partial impressions across the portrait of
Jefferson appear to be from the rim of yet another coin. These
elements were also impressed into the coin during its alteration.
Why do people do this sort of thing? Good question.
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