Major horizontal misalignments of the anvil die are exceedingly rare.
Such misalignments necessarily involve the collar as well, since the
latter confines the neck of the anvil die. The collar either has to
break apart or break free of its moorings.
Even rarer are coins that display major horizontal misalignments of
both dies. The May 18, 2015, column featured a 2000-P Virginia quarter dollar with just such an
error combination (see photo). It was struck near the tail end of a
riotous explosion of errors spewed forth from a deeply dysfunctional
coining press. Errors produced earlier in the press run were a
temporally mixed medley that consisted of major horizontal
misalignments of the hammer (reverse) die, major horizontal
misalignments of the anvil (obverse) die, off-center strikes, and
off-center strikes combined with a horizontal misalignment of the
hammer die. Oddly enough, the press run ended rather quietly, with an
uncentered broadstrike (Collectors’ Clearinghouse, Oct. 17, 2016).
Now, an even more dramatic dual misalignment has emerged, this time
in a 2000-P South Carolina quarter dollar.
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The obverse — struck by the anvil die — shows an 8 percent
misalignment toward 7:30 (obverse clock position). The reverse —
struck by the hammer die — shows an 11 percent misalignment toward
7:30 (reverse clock position). In State quarter dollars, a shift
toward the southwest characterizes many misaligned reverse (hammer)
dies. Since the South Carolina coin was struck in normal coin
rotation, the two median axes defined by the two misalignments cross
each other in vertical space at a right angle.
As with any error that incorporates a misaligned anvil die, the coin
was broadstruck. While there is no trace of reeding anywhere along the
edge, the northern end of the obverse face does feature a strong
The question inevitably arises — is this really a dual misalignment
or only a facsimile? After all, we have three potential moving parts —
hammer die, anvil die, and planchet. Might we instead be looking at an
off-center strike in combination with a horizontal misalignment of the
hammer die? Such errors undoubtedly outnumber bona fide dual
misalignments and include the subset of Virginia quarter dollar errors
mentioned above as well as the 1999-D 5-cent coin featured in the Nov. 28,
quarter: The Washington quarter dollar, which has been
circulating since 1932, was born out of the Treasury Department's
desire to produce a coin to mark the bicentennial of the birth of
the first president of the United States. How much
are Washington quarters worth?
The hammer die of the South Carolina quarter dollar is
unquestionably misaligned because the obverse design is missing in the
area that lies opposite the unstruck crescent on the reverse face.
Proving that the anvil die is misaligned takes a bit more thought
and effort. The best clue lies along the obverse periphery at the pole
opposite the unstruck obverse crescent. Here the letters of QUARTER
are ever so slightly cut off along the coin’s edge. If this pattern of
offset were the result of an off-center strike, then the peripheral
letters directly across from it on the reverse face (SOUTH) would show
the same effect. Instead, those letters are located at their proper
distance from a well-defined design rim. Both words are bisected by
the axis defined by the anvil die misalignment (a line that runs from
1:30 to 7:30 on the obverse), and since that axis is oriented 90
degrees to the axis defined by the hammer die misalignment (a line
that runs from 1:30 to 7:30 on the reverse), we can be confident that
the obverse design is independently offset from the reverse design.
This approach also allows us to confirm that the anvil die
misalignment on the Virginia dual misalignment error is equally
legitimate, and therefore, by extrapolation, so is every other anvil
die misalignment produced during that press run.
Although struck many months apart, the two dual misalignment errors
share some tantalizing similarities. In both coins the misalignments
are 90 degrees apart and both display numerous accidental die
scratches, with the vast majority appearing on the obverse face.
The South Carolina quarter dollar shows numerous other errors that
speak to a difficult history.
(1) Low-lying areas of Washington’s
head and neck are lost to die abrasion (whether accidental or
intentional isn’t clear).
(2) On the reverse, the field around
the palmetto tree and along the right perimeter shows a patchy
field-restricted struck-through error that reflects the presence of a
gritty paste on the hammer die face.
(3) An irregular, interrupted reverse
design rim indicates that the die’s rim gutter suffered considerable damage.
(4) Multiple impressions of the die’s
rim gutter are seen within the unstruck reverse crescent at 4:30.
(5) A curved groove that cuts through
UNUM and the date appears to represent post-strike die contact.