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Key error certified

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Coin collectors know that errors sometimes cause celebration.

And that’s what Robert Oberth, owner of Gold & Coin Exchange in Marietta, Ga., is doing after being the first to certify a 1893-S Morgan silver dollar as a “tilted partial collar” error.

The coin, considered by most to be the key date to the series, was certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. (NGC) as XF Details.

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Dr. Michael Fey, an authority on silver  dollar errors and varieties, called it a relatively high details grade for an 1893-S dollar considering that most 1893-S dollars grade substantially lower.

“So few people out there have seen these coins,” Fey said. “It’s incredible that in all of these years since 1893 that one has surfaced.”

Also referred to as a railroad rim, the error occurs when a coin is struck in a tilted position in the collar, Fey said. That results in the edge of the coin appearing as a raised bar of metal circling the coin in an uneven or tilted manner. The reeding also appears to widen as one looks around the coin.

Fey said Oberth bought the coin over the counter in a Dansco album. After removing it from the album, his partner, John Richards, noticed a strange edge to the coin and thought it was a counterfeit.

So Oberth called Fey.

“When he contacted me, I said that could be an incredibly rare coin,” Fey said. “I looked at some images and said it sure looks authentic.”

Fey told him to look at the Professional Coin Grading Service grading guide for an image of an 1893-S Morgan and look on his coin for die scratches on the T inside Liberty’s headband.

The scratches were there, so Fey told Oberth to send it to David Camire at NGC, where it was ultimately certified as a genuine tilted partial collar error.

“NGC provides a unique holder to show the edges of a coin,” Fey said, “and with this kind of error, that’s what you want.”

There are perhaps only a few hundred such errors in the entire Morgan dollar series, Fey said.

“As a person into Morgan dollars I say, wow, this is way cool,” Fey said.

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