World Coins

An elephant coin that’s lost weight

Emporium Hamburg announced that it inadvertently issued an underweight coin in its 2014 Somalia Elephant program. The coin is missing 0.12 gram of gold, a difference of about $7 at current market value.

Images courtesy of Emporium Hamburg.

Bullion coins are traded by weight, and that’s a problem when a coin doesn’t contain the amount of precious metal stated on the coin.

Emporium Hamburg announced the discovery of an underweight 2014 coin issue. The problem affects an unknown number of 1/50-ounce gold 20-shilling coins from 2014, in the company’s Somalia Elephants series.

The only way to determine the error is to weigh the coin, which should weigh 0.62 gram, but instead weighs 0.5 gram. The diameter of planchets for both weight coins is the same, so the problem can only be detected by weight, meaning that apparently a minting technician used the wrong blanks.

Emporium Hamburg said in a statement: “When we first heard about it, we were amazed. We have strict in-house controls for the minting quality of all our pieces. The weight of the coins is also checked through random sampling. But of course, we can’t put every single coin from a batch on the scales individually. So this error coin was sent out to our customers.”

Statement from founder

Achim Becker, founder and long-time managing director of the firm, said, “Of course it’s annoying that this mistake has happened here. On the other hand, a certain trend has developed in recent years, with collectors tending to pay more for error coins from contemporary series than for regular pieces. There’s something reassuring about the idea that, despite all the elaborate control technology, human error is still possible. So it may be the case that the collector’s value exceeds the value of the missing gold weight — about 0.12 g — several times over. Nevertheless, we take full responsibility for the coins we sell.”

Becker said that anyone wanting to exchange the underweight coin can do so “at any time and without any time limit, and we’ll exchange it for the originally stated weight and current gold value.”

The value of the 0.12 gram difference in gold amount, based on $1,822 spot price at press time May 13, equates to about $7 U.S. per coin, (making the lighter coin worth $29.29 rather than $36.44).

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