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Die clash gives quarter fishy look

Leaping fish? Oh, no they ain

Back in 2006, the 2005-P-D-S Minnesota state quarters with various doubled dies restricted to central areas of the reverse design were red hot. Most of them involved the third full tree to the right of the Minnesota state outline with a portion of that tree hub doubled with the secondary image showing as a shift out in the field as a totally separated partial tree.

 Thus, they were nicknamed the ?extra tree? varieties. At any one time dozens of them could be found being offered on eBay and week after week John Wexler and I wrote stories on the new finds as they came in for Numismatic News and other periodicals. They were so hot with so many collectors looking for them that they started finding other aberrations on the coins that they felt were doubled dies or ?design add-ons? related to the Mint deciding to include ?extra? elements into the design. One common type of variation that fooled a lot of folks was the die clash.

The one shown here is one of a number of 2005-P Minnesota quarters that exhibit die clash marks on the obverse and reverse. On this one you can see the effects of a high point on the die from the lines in Washington?s hair (wig) clashed on the reverse in front of the boat.

It looks kind of like a fish leaping out of the water and in fact many folks made the claim that this was in fact what it was despite the fact their contentions had no basis in fact. They still get offered as such from time to time.

Other evidence of the clash on the reverse of this variety shows as an area of deformation in the field between the third and fourth full trees (right of the state outline) and seemingly running behind and above the third tree.
Some claim that these are abrasion marks and are evidence of where an ?extra tree? doubled die once appeared and was later removed by the Mint. Others with more vivid imaginations, claim this is smoke coming up from a campfire in the forest. This obviously is not the case but it helps sell coins for those who just don?t care if their descriptions are set within the framework of reality or fantasy.

On the obverse we see some of the outlines of trees from the reverse clashed into Washington?s portrait below his ear and on either side. In a sense these are ?extra trees? in that they are outlines of trees due to the clash but certainly not a result of hub doubling (doubled dies).

The die clash occurs when the planchet delivery system fails to deposit a planchet between the dies and the press cycles and the dies smash or clash into each other. When this occurs the design of one or both dies may impart outlines on each other. Coins struck with these dies will, of course, show these aberrations until they are removed by the Mint or wear away.

The effects of die clashes can certainly be interesting and in some cases, are considered very collectible, but they should always be described as what they are, even in promotions where commonly accepted nicknames are also being used.