US Coins

Die varieties and errors among highlights of Scotsman auction

Some coveted mistakes from the U.S. Mint are among the highlights at Scotsman’s July 19 Summer auction at the Saint Charles Convention Center held alongside the Missouri Numismatic Society’s 59th Annual Coin Show. 

As Coin World managing editor William T. Gibbs wrote in his April 2018 cover story on doubled dies, the die error type “is probably the one die variety that almost all nonspecialists are familiar with, at least vaguely.”

Gibbs explains, “Rarity, demand and degree of doubling are keys to ensuring whether a particular doubled die variety brings high prices or a few dollars. In general, the stronger the doubling and the rarer the coin, the more it is worth,” adding, “a good backstory is also a contributing factor to collector demand and interest.” 

Few doubled dies are stronger than the 1916 Indian Head, Doubled Die Obverse 5-cent coin with dramatic doubling seen on the date. Scotsman offers one graded Very Fine 20 by Professional Coin Grading Service, observing, “Rich, mellow dove-grey completely blankets the surface and renders even bolder the design, given the modestly darker greyish accents within some lower relief areas.” 

The variety was publicized in the July 1962 issue of The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine and became widely recognized only in the 1970s, so Mint State survivors are virtually unknown. Today around 200 are known, overall, and most survive in lower circulated grades. 

A less well-known doubled die with strong doubling at the date (and motto) is this 1937 Washington, Doubled Die Obverse quarter dollar graded PCGS MS-65. It is listed as FS-101 in the most recent Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties. The cataloger notes, “Obviously a long-time resident of album storage, vivid rust-gold color surrounds both sides in near-perfect circles of color.” 

Also like the 1916 DDO 5-cent piece, the FS-101 1937 DDO quarter dollar is listed in A Guide Book of United States Coins (the “Red Book”), confirming strong demand in the marketplace, beyond error specialists. It is tough in all grades, but especially coveted in the highest grades, with PCGS grading four in MS-65 with two finer, both MS-66. Scotsman’s lustrous representative is estimated at $4,000 to $5,000.

Truly grotesque yet stunningly desirable

Major errors on gold coins are unusual and few are as dramatic as this 2015 American Eagle 1-ounce gold bullion coin graded MS-69 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. with a large struck-through error on the obverse. 

The description colorfully states, “Given the recent vintage, the huge, gaping void in the lower obverse area is truly grotesque, and makes this a stunningly desirable object for collectors inclined to pick up on the droppings of the mint’s quality control errors. Ugly, but in an ungainly and attractive sort of way that only an error collector might understand.” 

One can only wonder what blob-shaped material caused the indentation on this coin. This exceptional example of the error type has an estimate of $1,400 to $1,600, just a modest premium over the bullion content.  

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