Skip to main content

Dropped letter on state quarter

Tracy Miller of Florida found a 2005-P West Virginia state quarter with a “Dropped Letter” showing as a letter “T” dropped out in the field.

Tracy Miller of Florida found a 2005-P West Virginia state quarter with a “Dropped Letter” showing as a letter “T” dropped out in the field. This is the result of the “T” of WEST being clogged with debris that was packed in so tight that when it eventually fell out of the die cavity of the “T,” like Jello from a mold, it was struck into the field of the coin leaving behind this very interesting incuse “T.”


Another of his neat finds is his 1988-P Jefferson five-cent piece that is described as an in-collar flip-over double strike. It was struck normally on the first strike and then re-entered the collar flipped over and rotated in relation to the first strike and struck within the collar again.

Because a coin expands ever so slightly after it is ejected from the collar it is very difficult for it to completely re-enter the collar. As a result most in-collar double strikes will show what is called a “Partial Collar Strike.” Miller’s coin has a slight partial collar meaning that it was nearly forced all the way in for the second strike.

The circumference of the coin that could not be forced in is slightly flared out and oversize caused by the unrestrained flow of metal in that area. A partial collar is considered a point of authentication for in-collar double strikes as it is not easily faked by those attempting to counterfeit double strikes.

However, its absence does not necessarily condemn an in-collar double strike either as a small percentage get forced all the way into the collar resulting in no partial collar being present.

We show a partial collar here that is from a 1943-P in-collar double-struck Jefferson nickel that is representative of the typical partial collar we see on such double strikes. This view of the edge shows how the lower portion restrained by the collar is not as wide as the unrestrained metal above it.

Miller also found a 1982 brass cent with a nice “Curved Clip.” The term “Curved Clip” is actually a popular misnomer that error collectors tend to accept in describing a general class of planchet error that originates with a blank that was produced with an incomplete area of metal at its edge. The error occurs when a blank is punched from out of an area of strip that overlaps a hole (or holes) from where a blank was previously punched out. Envision using a cookie cutter to “punch” out a cookie from an area of rolled out dough that overlaps into an area from where you had already cut out a cookie and it is easy to understand how the “curved clip” errors occurs.

Many curved clips are faked by punching the curved clip out with a common punch found in almost any die shop or through other cruder methods while “straight clips” (which will be the subject of another article) are faked by filing metal away from the edge. Collectors should take time to learn the diagnostics of this class of error even more than some of the other error types due to the ease and frequency in which they are faked.

No matter what class of clip is involved, in many cases, the rim opposite the clip will be flat and poorly formed. This effect is known within the hobby as the “Blakesley effect” and occurs due to the absence of pressure in that area during the upset (or rimming) process. This is the process that raises the metal around the rim of a coin blank to facilitate the creation of a rim when the upset planchet is fed into a press to be struck.

Normally the blank rotates through the mill, which becomes increasingly tighter on the opposing sides of the blank as it progresses through. This creates the pressure necessary to upset the rim. When the blank rotates to the area of the clip the pressure is released and the rim fails to be formed in the area opposite the clip.

However, the “Blakesley effect” does not always appear on the struck coin; most probably due to a heavy strike, and collectors must learn to recognize other diagnostics of a genuine clip. Look for tapering at the edge (especially at the extreme opposite edges or lips of the clip where it meets the raised rim) and notice how the metal flows and design details close to the edge stretch or elongate. Not all of these effects always occur and sometimes they are minimal but one or more of these diagnostics will generally be present on a genuine clip.

The Blakesley effect is basically absent in Miller’s cent so we had to use the later points of attribution to authenticate the coin; notice the tapering at the lips of the clip. There is also significant metal flow on the lettering closest to the clip.

Finally, we see that Miller also searches for die varieties as evidenced by the 1959 Lincoln cent featured here with a doubled-die obverse. This one shows best on LIBERTY as doubling that is spread toward the rim. There is also a bit of doubling on IN GOD WE TRUST not shown here. Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton list this one in the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties as 01-1959-102 (FS#1c-022.2). CONECA lists it as DDO-004 (1-O-II) and I list it in the Variety Coin Register as VCR#2/DDR#2.

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 An educational image gallery may be viewed on his Web site at