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New source for error

Plain-edge James Monroe and Andrew Jackson Presidential dollars are turning up in the 2008 annual uncirculated coin sets popularly called mint sets produced by the U.S. Mint.
Independent Coin Grading Company of Englewood, Colo., reports finding at least four examples in the receiving department.

Out of 5,000 sets searched by ICG personnel Stan Biggers and Yolanda Lopez, three James Monroe dollars and one Andrew Jackson dollar were found missing the edge inscription:  “ . 2008 P . E PLURIBUS UNUM . IN GOD WE TRUST”.

The sets were sent in for grading by First Commemorative Mint of Farmingdale, N.Y. It is reasonable to assume that other examples of the errors got out into collector hands in orders shipped out in recent weeks.

A Shuler edge lettering machine normally presses the inscription into the edge of the Presidential dollars in a separate operation after the coins are struck with the obverse and reverse designs. The coins are force-spun through a groove that contains an edge-lettering die with the entire inscription raised up in relief. As the coins are forced through the groove, the die presses the inscription into the edge of the coins leaving behind an incused or sunken impression of the date, mintmark, mottoes and three delimiter dots. If any of the struck coins somehow miss this operation they can be released to the public sans the edge inscription.

Tens of thousands, up to perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Philadelphia and Denver minted circulation quality examples of this error type escaped the Mints on the George Washington dollars last year while smaller numbers of John Adams and even smaller numbers of Thomas Jefferson dollars followed months later. At least one plain edge Madison dollar is known.

Collectors refer to these errors under a variety of terms including:  missing edge inscription, missing edge lettering, smooth edge, plain edge, etc. In an attempt to sensationalize the errors, the general press has referred to them as “Godless dollars” since they are missing the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. 

The United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Sets were officially put up for sale on Aug. 7.  They contain coins from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints that represent specimens struck for circulation except that they are given a special matte or satin finish and struck under higher tonnage on dies retired from use earlier than those used for general circulation strikes. Ash Harrison, president of the Society of Silver Dollar Collectors, stated that during a tour of the Denver Mint he observed them double striking the special mint set quality dollars on regular coinage presses while others were being struck on presses normally reserved for proof coin production.

While we do not know if the Philadelphia Mint also uses presses normally reserved for proof coinage production, if they do, it is possible that a few of the coins being transported from the proof production area remained in a tub that was later filled with finished coins. As of Sept. 9, the U.S. Mint has not responded to inquiries on the exact procedures used to move mint set quality coins from the striking operations to the edge-lettering machine. I hope to report upon this later.  In the meantime – let the hunt begin!  Let me know what you find.


Ken Potter is the official attributer of world doubled dies for the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America and for the National Collectors Association of Die Doubling.  He also privately lists other collectible variety types on both U.S. and world coins in the Variety Coin Register.  More information on either of the clubs or how to get a coin listed in the Variety Coin Register may be obtained by sending a long self-addressed envelope with 58 cents postage to P.O. Box 760232, Lathrup Village, MI 48076, or by contacting him via e-mail at KPotter256@aol.com.  An educational image gallery may be viewed on his Web site at www.koinpro.com.

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