When the surface of a coin cracks and flakes, hobbyists call it a
“lamination error.” The metal is actually delaminating from the
surface, so it should really be called a delamination error. However,
priority requires that we stick with the original term.
Flaps of delaminating metal can remain attached to a coin, as seen
on the reverse of the illustrated 1970-D Lincoln cent.
They can also fall away, as on the obverse face of a 1958-D
Washington quarter dollar shown here. In this example two lamination
flakes spalled off the surface after the strike, one above IN GOD WE
TRUST and one below the motto. Flakes can also detach themselves from
a planchet before the strike, although evidence of this is often
erased by the die’s impact.
Lamination errors are generally restricted to solid-alloy coins.
Many owe their presence to contaminants in the alloy that cause
separation along the horizontal plane. As evidence of this, you can
sometimes see dark discoloration in the floor of the recess left by
the missing flake.
Lamination errors can also be a side effect of an improper alloy
mix, where the constituent metals are not thoroughly blended.
Separation occurs at the boundary of light- and dark-colored bands.
Simple lamination errors like those depicted on our first two
coins are relatively common and have only slight market value. Value
and eye-appeal is enhanced when a large lamination flap folds over
before the strike, and especially when that flap is retained.
A lamination flap that starts at the edge of a planchet and bends
over will typically leave a semilunar (shaped like a half-moon)
depression in the coin after the strike. If the flap is retained, the
resulting semilunar wafer carries a die-struck design on its
A straightforward example of such an error is seen here on a 1964
cent. A semilunar flap — bent over, struck and retained — can be seen
on the left side of the obverse face. The word IN and the first few
letters of LIBERTY were weakly struck because this part of the coin
was left thinner than normal by the dislocation of the flap.
A similar error appears in the accompanying 1957 Lincoln cent. The
flap broke free after the strike but was recovered. Removing the flap
exposes a semilunar depression (a struck-through error) with blurred
Another struck-through error left by a semilunar lamination flap
can be seen on the obverse face of a 1966 Washington quarter dollar.
This coin provides an exception to the general rule that lamination
errors are associated with solid-alloy coins. This coin has a
copper-nickel clad composition. The outer clad layer, while thin, can
still experience separation internally along the horizontal plane.
Here a flap lifted up from the superficial levels of the
planchet’s clad layer and was folded over onto what would eventually
become the obverse face. The flap was lost after the strike, leaving
behind a shallow depression with slightly blurred design elements. The
strike is weak where dislocation of the flap left the planchet thinner
Semilunar lamination flakes — or any lamination flake for that
matter — can separate from one planchet and end up being struck into a
different planchet. Irregular flakes seem to be a fairly common source
of struck-through errors. In the case of a large, thick flake that’s
embedded in, or missing from a coin, a precise weight will often tell
you whether the flake was respectively added to or subtracted from the
coin. Loss or addition of a small thin flake will have a negligible
effect on a coin’s weight. All of the coins presented in this column
have weights that lie within the normal range of variation for their denominations.
Coin World’s Collectors’ Clearinghouse department does
not accept coins or other items for examination without prior
permission from News Editor William T. Gibbs. Materials sent to
Clearinghouse without prior permission will be returned unexamined.
Please address all Clearinghouse inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or to
800-673-8311, Ext. 172.