US Coins

Valuable lessons in stories about spectacular error finds

Close inspection of coins, whether pulled from circulation or resting in sets or original packaging from the Mint, is still paying dividends as evidenced by three stories in the headlines this week.

Congratulations to California collector Lee Lydston, who spotted what has been confirmed as the second known 1973-S Eisenhower dollar struck on a copper-nickel clad planchet instead of the normal silver-copper clad planchet. The fact that he obtained the coin at his local bank for face value makes the find exciting and gives hope to every collector who is faithfully searching rolls and bags of coins obtained from banks.

The discovery coin for this Eisenhower dollar wrong planchet error was found in 2008.

Another California collector (who has requested anonymity) has received confirmation that a second look at a four-coin platinum Proof set he purchased from the U.S. Mint in 2007 was well worth his time. After reading recent reports in Coin World about the Frosted Freedom errors in the platinum American Eagle series, he retrieved his sets for inspection.

Lo and behold, he is the proud owner of the first 2007-W $50 (half ounce) platinum American Eagle to be authenticated as having the pre-production strike inadvertently released by the Mint, having the word freedom frosted on the reverse.

Two other examples bearing the Frosted Freedom error have thus far been reported and confirmed, but they are on $100 (1-ounce) and $25 (quarter-ounce) coins.

News of an 11th specimen of the undated double-denominated Sacagawea dollar/Washington quarter dollar mule error surfacing is bound to make many hearts beat quicker. Although details are sketchy regarding where this error coin was found and how many hands it may have passed through before Chicago dealer and error specialist Nicholas P. Brown’s recent purchase, it is still an electrifying story.

The book, 100 Greatest U.S. Error Coins, co-authored by Brown, error specialist David Camire and California coin dealer and error coin specialist Fred Weinberg, ranks this mule as the No. 1 U.S. coin error. In the book, published in 2010, the authors detail pedigrees for 10. They suggested that another three were known when the book was published.

Could more than two be out there uncertified?

That’s a valid and tantalizing question, especially for those who still have original, bank-wrapped rolls of 2000 Sacagawea dollars. They can still dream and play the “I wonder if” game. That’s because the first example of this mule was discovered by Frank Wallis in late May 2000 in an Uncirculated 25-coin roll of Sacagawea dollars obtained from First National Bank & Trust in Mountain Home, Ark., which is in the St. Louis Federal Reserve District.

A common thread in these stories suggests that more is involved than potential value and luck. It bears testament to the importance of knowledge and keeping current as to what others are finding and the possibilities that exist in coin collecting.

Of course, we should not lose sight of the fact these successful finders and buyer were patient and persistent in their searches and quests — valuable insight for those who may be just beginning to look at coins more closely in hopes of scoring a big win. ¦

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