US Coins

'Buffalo nickel' struck on wrong planchet brings $7,637

Bringing $188,000, an 1879 Flowing Hair gold $4 Stella pattern piece in its original box, a coin that had been off the market since the 1950s and was subsequently graded Proof 65+ by Professional Coin Grading Service, was a top lot at the auctions held before and immediately after the Nov. 5 to 8 Whitman Coin and Collectibles Baltimore Expo by Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

As in all large auctions, while six-figure rarities may dominate headlines, sales like the one just concluded offer many fascinating pieces that sell at much lower price points.

Here is one of three that caught my eye. 

The Coin

1936 Indian Head 5-cent coin, wrong planchet error, MS-62 brown

The Price


The Story

During its long history the U.S. Mint sometimes struck coins for other countries, and under those circumstances, a particular form of wrong planchet error (when a coin is struck on a planchet intended for another coin) can result. 

Such is the case with a 1936 Indian Head 5-cent piece struck on a Nicaraguan bronze 1-centavo planchet. The bronze planchet was just a bit smaller than the standard copper-nickel 5-cent planchet used for Indian Head 5-cent pieces, so nearly the full design is shown. 

In 1936 the Philadelphia Mint struck 500,000 1-centavo coins for Nicaragua, so such errors are understandable, but this specific wrong planchet error is rarely seen, with Stack’s Bowers noting that it is the first that the firm has handled. Graded MS-62 brown by PCGS with a lustrous, light copper color, the unusual piece sold for $7,637.50.

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