US Coins

Dime struck on nail tops 42 thousand dollars

New Mexico collector Tommy Bolack spent $42,300 Jan. 6 to add a “10 penny” nail to his collection of major U.S. coin errors. He bid $36,000 for the coin, with the total price including the 17.5 percent buyer's fee.

Noted for owning 10 of the 14 publicly known (2000-P) State quarter dollar obverse/Sacagawea dollar reverse mule error coins, Bolack became locked in a bidding contest with another collector in Heritage Auctions’ FUN Sale in Tampa to acquire the Roosevelt dime error struck on a 6-penny common zinc nail.

Numismatic research indicates that Mint press operators may have used nails to dislodge misstruck coins jammed in the presses, which if accurate, would suggest that it might be possible that such pieces could have been struck in error. However, some numismatists have also asked whether some similar pieces might have been struck deliberately.

‘10 penny' error

Although struck on a 6-penny gauge nail, Bolack’s “10 penny” error alludes to the 10-cent denomination.

Bolack says he considers the dime struck on a nail one of the more spectacular errors he has added to his collection. He said he heard about the existence of such an error several years ago and wasn’t going to be denied if one came to auction. Bolack said he was prepared to bid higher to acquire the error.

The coin’s appearance in the sale was somewhat a piece of luck.

David McCarthy, senior numismatist at Kagin’s in Tiburon, Calif., held the coin in his personal collection.

McCarthy said he acquired the piece for $5,000 approximately eight to 10 years ago at an East Coast coin show. He said he placed the error into a coin flip and stored it for safekeeping,

However, the storage location was so safe that for the past three years, McCarthy had been unable to locate the piece.

As circumstance would have it, when one of McCarthy’s numismatic friends, Steven T. Feltner, was opening Americana Rare Coin in Sacramento a few months ago, McCarthy provided him with a red cardboard box containing coins with the recommendation to submit them to Professional Coin Grading Service.

While going through the box to ready the coins for grading submission, Feltner came across the dime-struck-on-error nail that had slipped underneath some of the other coins in flips.

The dime struck on nail was submitted to PCGS, which graded and encapsulated it Mint State 65.

McCarthy consigned the encapsulated nail to Heritage two days before the FUN auction consignment deadline.

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Cents on nails also at FUN convention

Three hours after Bolack placed his winning phone bid for the dime error, an undated (presumably 1977) Lincoln cent struck on a steel finishing nail was sold in a private transaction by Jon Sullivan. Sullivan is with Sullivan Numismatics in Charlestown, S.C. The portion of the nail struck and encapsulated is less than an inch long.

The cent was among seven Lincoln cent errors struck on steel finishing nails originally acquired circa 1977 at a New York show by error coin dealer Fred Weinberg from Encino, Calif. 

Weinberg sold four of the coins to a Florida collector, with the collector selling one of the four in subsequent years. That coin eventually ended up with Sullivan.

During the FUN convention, the Florida collector submitted to Numismatic Guaranty Corp. for authentication, grading and encapsulation, the other three Lincoln cents struck on nails. One is dated 1977 and one of is in the shape of a horseshoe. The Florida collector is awaiting the results of his submission.

Of the seven cent-on-nail errors Weinberg once owned, he said he had sold one of the other pieces to another collector in 1977.

The remaining two of the seven cent-on-nail errors from the West Point Mint ended up in the hands of the Secret Service, to whom Weinberg had to turn them over after another numismatist alerted U.S. Mint officials they were in Weinberg’s possession in 1977.

The seven cents struck on finishing nails were reportedly products of the West Point Silver Bullion Depository when the facility was pressed into service to strike Lincoln cents.

Other coins on nails

Other pieces of a similar nature exist.

Sullivan said three other Roosevelt dimes struck on nails that reportedly were produced at the Philadelphia Mint are known in addition to the one from the Heritage auction.

During 2015, for approximately $10,000, Sullivan sold to a collector Mike Moloney a 2000-P New Hampshire State quarter dollar struck on a nail that was authenticated and encapsulated without grade by NGC.

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