US Coins

1970s coins struck on aluminum game tokens

Two Proof error coins that were struck at the San Francisco Mint in the early 1970s and are composed of aluminum were apparently intentionally struck over struck aluminum Shell Coin Game tokens, according to error coin specialist Jon Sullivan of Sullivan Numismatics in Charleston, South Carolina.

A 1970-S Kennedy half dollar graded and encapsulated Proof 62 by Professional Coin Grading Service, was struck over a Missouri token issued by Shell Oil Co. as part of its States of the Union premium games.

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Shell Oil Co. issued the tokens in the 1960s and 1970s for production promotions. The common reverse for the States of the Union tokens — evidence of which can be found on the Kennedy half dollar error — reads SHELL’S / COIN / GAME in three lines over concentric circles, with five-pointed stars around.

“The circular pattern is found on all the coins I’ve seen, and also you can see faint traces of the stars around the Kennedy and Ike’s outer areas,” Sullivan said. “There is so little design, that is why it has been so hard to figure out what these are struck on, but the mystery is finally solved.”

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Viewing the obverse of the Kennedy half dollar right side up, concentric circles from the reverse of the underlying token design are clearly visible across Kennedy’s portrait. OIN / GAME is visible upside down on Kennedy’s face.

On the reverse of the Kennedy half dollar, viewed right side up, the letters OURI of MISSOURI from the token design are behind the letters DOLL in DOLLAR on the half dollar.

The Proof Kennedy half dollar error measures 29.5 millimeters in diameter and weighs 1.6 grams. A regular Proof 1970-S Kennedy half dollar would have a diameter of 30.61 millimeters and the copper-silver clad coin would weigh 11.5 grams.

The edge of the error half dollar is reeded, as are the States of the Union Shell Oil tokens.

Eisenhower error

The 197x-S Eisenhower dollar, graded Proof 64 by PCGS, is struck over a struck a Ulysses S. Grant Mr. President Shell Oil aluminum token.

Only the 197 from the date on the Eisenhower dollar design is evident. The error dollar weighs 2 grams and is 30.8 millimeters in diameter. The edge is plain, as are the Mr. President Shell Oil tokens. The error i double struck.

A normal Proof 1971-S Eisenhower dollar measures 38.1 millimeters in diameter, with a reeded edge. Normal pieces struck on the copper-nickel clad planchet weigh 22.68 grams and those struck on a copper-silver clad planchet weigh 24.59 grams.

The common reverse for the Mr. President tokens is inscribed in three lines SHELL’S / MR. PRESIDENT / COIN GAME over concentric circles with stars around.

On the Eisenhower dollar error, several stars are visible in the obverse field, along with 18TH from the inscription above Grant’s portrait on the token’s obverse.

In the field behind Eisenhower’s portrait appear the letters ANT from GRANT, which is inscribed below Grant’s portrait on the token used as a planchet.

The reverse of the Eisenhower dollar error shows prominent evidence of the concentric circles from the token reverse.

Apparently, other 1970s era coins from the San Francisco Mint were also struck on the Shell Oil tokens, including an undated Eisenhower dollar struck over an Abraham Lincoln Mr. President Coins aluminum token. 

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