US Coins

Canceled Mint trial strikes found outside of facility

Experimental 5-cent piece contains manganese along with copper, nickel, and other trace elements. The piece was struck at the Philadelphia Mint.

Images courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service.

Additional waffle-canceled trial strikes of circulating U.S. coin
denominations in compositions being tested by the U.S. Mint to save on production costs have entered the collecting mainstream.

Jon Sullivan, an error coin dealer from Land O Lakes, Florida, secured two examples of the J-2225 quarter dollar trial strike (as cataloged at a single example attributed as J-2210 (

Attributions at stem from the standard pattern reference, United States Pattern Coins by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers, with research associate Saul Teichman.

The U.S. Mint has been conducting compositional alternatives research at the Philadelphia Mint since passage of the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010, Public Law 111-302, on Dec. 14, 2010, and has issued biennial reports to Congress to announce findings.

Findings include a study by Concurrent Technologies Corporation, accessible online at

Sullivan said he acquired the canceled trial strikes from another dealer who had obtained them from a collector.

Waffle cancellation results from Mint researchers putting the condemned trial strikes into machinery manufactured by Kusters Engineering in the Netherlands to deform them, with the intention that the pieces then be shipped to outside vendors for melting and metal reclamation.

All three trial strikes Sullivan recently acquired — the two quarter dollar pieces and single 5-cent piece — were struck with “nonsense” dies bearing Martha Washington designs, not intended for circulating production.

While the two quarter dollar strikes were produced on planchets of the current copper-nickel clad composition, with outer layers of 75% copper, 25% nickel, bonded to a core of pure copper, the dies, with their nonsense imagery, bear different identification numbers.

The lone 5-cent coin trial strike was metallurgically tested by Professional Coin Grading Service, and according to Sullivan, was found to have a composition of 77% copper, 20% nickel, and 2.5% manganese, with the remainder in trace elements.

The current composition of 5-cent coins issued for circulation and collector sets is a homogenous alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel.

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