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Seen an altered coin lately?

What happens to coins that are altered outside of the Mint in order to make souvenirs out of them that can be marketed to the public?

I don’t have the answer for everything, but I have one reader who regularly sends me questions about Kennedy half dollars that he has found in circulation, which I assume means in rolls obtained from a local bank.

His latest request for information was about a Kennedy half dollar that was stamped with the dates 1960 and 1980.

The first date was above the “In God” portion of our national motto while the second date was above “We Trust.” He asked me why this was done.

I immediately emailed back that I assumed it was a souvenir to mark the 20th anniversary of John F. Kennedy being elected President of the United States. I am not absolutely sure, so someone can write in and correct my theory if they know better.

Curiously, the reader did not provide me with the underlying date of the coin. That seems a strange lapse for a collector.

Over time the reader has also sent in other questions of similarly altered coins. One was a Kennedy half with a sticker on it for a baseball team event.

While this particular reader is interested in altered Kennedy half dollars, others are surprised when they encounter gold-plated state quarters or other items.

When I was a kid it was altered cents showing Lincoln facing Kennedy. Nobody has written to me about this particular souvenir in quite a long time, so perhaps nobody cares about altered cents any longer

But the point of it all is that after purchasers of these souvenirs get tired of them, need money or have light-fingered family members, they end up back in the banking system for collectors to find. They often puzzle the recipients.

My hope is that anyone who thinks about an altered coin long enough to be puzzled will be ripe to become a true collector.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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3 Responses to Seen an altered coin lately?

  1. modrare says:

    Many years ago, when was a staff writer for Coin World, I would periodically receive Kennedy half dollar “magic” or “trick” coins. I’m sure you have seen similar coins, Dave, with two “heads” (or “tails”).
    When I was a kid in the ’50’s, they were often offered for sale on the inside back or back covers of comic books. Back then, though, they were very crude by modern standards.
    Nowadays, they can be easily produced in a machine shop with very close tolerances. Two coins are used to produce one trick coin. The reverse of the first coin is milled out inside the rim and this is replaced with the obverse of the second coin. Without magnification, this actually appears to be a “tw0-headed” coin.
    In terms of altered coins, mostly what I currently see in my store are Lincoln cents that have been coated with another metal, such as zinc. They are the correct weight for a coin of the date they were struck, rather than being underweight as would a true Mint error coin.

  2. modrare says:

    ((Sorry for not having proofed before posting!))

  3. Vachon says:

    I find occasional counterstamped or chop-marked cents (if you will). My favorite is an incuse heart with “I LOVE YOU” written inside. Whoever said your money can’t love you back has clearly never seen this cent 🙂

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