This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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How many of the 1943 cents were copper plated?
One or two readers apparently missed the point of a comment about the copper-plated 1943 steel cents. This was done outside the Mint, long after the steel cents went into circulation, so there is no record of how many were copper-plated. The genuine steel cent issue was zinc-plated. The copper plating is an alteration and has no collector value.
I have a proof Anthony dollar that looks like it is made of gold. Is this possible?
Very probably your coin is one of the thousands that were plated by a commercial firm and sold as souvenirs. The plating makes the piece an altered coin, so it has no collector value. The gold is worth only a few cents, so there is no point in trying to recover that either.
I have a coin that has a large “X” across it. Is this from a canceled die?
This is an assumption that a lot of collectors make, but from your description you have a coin that has been altered by cutting the lines in the coin metal. Especially on a worn coin, the metal gouged out will usually be flattened down somewhat so that it covers the cuts, giving it the appearance of having been struck with a canceled die. However, if you examine the coin closely with a magnifier, you will be able to find places where the original cut may still show.
I have a clad coin with a big bubble in it. Does it have any special value?
This has been a regular question ever since the clad coinage was introduced in 1965. Bubbles on the clad coins usually are the result of the application of sudden, intense heat, such as from a welding torch. Because they are so easy to fake, even the genuine ones have no value. If done with a torch, you can probably find black soot in the corners of the letters and the coin may be discolored or will appear unnatural from efforts to clean it.
I have a German coin that is about uncirculated on one side, but the other side is flat with sharp edges. Any idea how this was minted?
American collectors see a lot more of these altered pieces. They have been altered by grinding or abrading the surface, leaving it flat after all of the design has been removed. As the question illustrates, it is something that can and does happen to world coins as well. The rule is: You can’t strike one side of a coin.
I finally got a magnifier to look at my coins. I’ve discovered several that display what appears to be engraving. Are these altered coins?
Work on the coin is an alteration, commonly referred to as “tooling.” Many old time collections contain Indian Head cents with the diamonds tooled, and the chest feathers of the eagle on the Morgan dollars are often tooled. At the time this was an accepted practice, but this is no longer the case and a tooled coin will be severely discounted.
What was the story on the 1977/6 overdate cent? I’ve never seen anything more on it, or any listings.
The piece was a hoax that was featured by a hobby publication after the Mint declared it genuine. When it was too late to retract the story, the Mint did some further checking and found that the coin had been faked with a so-called “soft” die, a die made by pressing a coin into the face of a soft metal bar, which was then used to apply the “7” to a genuine 1976 coin. Two Floridians were arrested for making the altered coin and other similar pieces. The method used was similar to that used to fake the multi-strike 1964 cents, many of which are still around.