Security at the U.S. Mint coining facilities is tight. Every so often we see an example that demonstrates it is not tight enough.
A Proof-65 1970-S quarter has been posted as a Buy It Now item on eBay for $35,000.
The price is making headlines and generating interest among collectors.
The reason the asking price is so high is it is struck on a silver 1941 Canadian 25-cent piece.
It is a major wrong planchet error.
In this case it appears that an employee 46 years ago did wrong and was never caught.
This clandestine strike was not part of normal Mint production. There is no way that a Canadian quarter of 1941 could have found its way to a San Francisco coin press striking proofs without help.
It had to be deliberately made.
This would require a Canadian quarter to be smuggled in. It was then overstruck and smuggled out. Or, I suppose, proof dies could have somehow been smuggled out, for use elsewhere, but that seems less likely.
Now this is no reflection on the current seller, Mike Byers has done everything above board. He is a respected error expert and dealer in the United States.
He also provides information that would make any potential buyer sleep well at night.
In the description Byers notes that the “error” was part of a small group of proof errors that were part of a collection. The Secret Service looked at the collection and released it back to the State of California for auction.
When something becomes state property, it usually means the original owner died and no heirs claimed it.
If this is true, the person who helped the coin into being did not financially benefit from his action.
Did he do it for kicks?
Did he decide to keep this piece and the others out of sight because he knew they might be tracked back to him?
We’ll probably never know. But some hobby sleuth might get to work on the story.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has slabbed the coin and graded it Proof-65.
A buyer would have a coin that seems to be absolutely clean going forward despite what appears to be murky origins. In fact, the likelihood of funny business probably enhances its value.
Is it worth $35,000?
We’ll have to wait and see.
The eBay post shows 2,279 watching.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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