US Coins

Fed policy requires return of Mint errors

If an error coin such as this off-center Lincoln cent was discovered during coin processing operations through the Federal Reserve, Fed policy requires its return to the Mint.

Original images courtesy of fromourattic2yoursoneBay.

The 12 Federal Reserve Banks and their branch facilities are required to return to the U.S. Mint any misstruck United States coins, otherwise referred to as Mint errors, though evidence suggests that some coins enter the marketplace anyway.

The U.S. Mint policy memo, adopted by the Federal Reserve Board in 2017, extends to the contracted armored transport firms that receive new coin shipments from the Mint and then roll the coinage to be boxed and distributed to participating commercial banks for release into general circulation.

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The Federal Reserve Banks have not accepted new coin shipments for rolling for more than a decade. Contracted firms such as Brink’s, Dunbar Garda, and Loomis Fargo, among others, handle the shipments directly from the Mint. It is often thought that some Mint errors find their way into the numismatic marketplace through these contracted carriers.

Federal Reserve Banks may retain individual Mint errors if the misstruck coins are needed to fill out the respective Federal Reserve Banks’ currency and coin exhibits, according to the Fed policy.

According to the policy, any Mint errors discovered during normal processing operations are mandated to be segregated by denomination and retained for a period before being returned to the Mint, with the face value being credited to the Federal Reserve Bank’s account.

The error coins are to be shipped to the bureau’s associate director for manufacturing at Mint headquarters in Washington, D.C., and not to the Philadelphia Mint, where mutilated and uncurrent coinage is redeemed.

Each shipment should identify which Federal Reserve Bank has shipped the error coins.

“Private individuals should be advised of the potential numismatic value of their misstruck coins and then offered an exchange at face value,” according to the Fed policy.

Error coins struck during circulating coinage production at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints are often detected during the production process, and when discovered, are put into locked “condemnation” boxes for later destruction. The condemned error coins are later waffle-canceled by crushing machinery and then returned to outside vendors that supply the Mint with coinage strip so the metal can be reclaimed for future coinage production.

Errors that manage to reach the bagging station undetected along with normal coins passing through the counting equipment are placed into bags or tubs containing hundreds of thousands of coins each.

The shipping receptacles are delivered to the armored transport facilities, also known as “counting rooms,” for processing and delivery to the participating commercial banks and financial institutions for release into commerce.

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