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First plain-edge Jefferson found

Bruce Countryman of Iowa has reported what appears to be the first confirmed

Bruce Countryman of Iowa has reported what appears to be the first confirmed ?plain edge? Thomas Jefferson Presidential dollar found. The coin is without the edge inscription, or what is commonly referred to in the hobby as a ?plain edge? or ?smooth edge? error.


After tens of thousands of the plain edge errors were found on Philadelphia and Denver Mint examples of the George Washington dollars (officially released on Feb. 14), and a much smaller but significant number were found on the Philadelphia John Adams dollars, (officially released on May 17), hobby observers predicted that the same error would repeat itself on the Jefferson dollar. However, weeks went by after their official release on Aug. 16 before one was actually found.

According to Countryman a single example of the error type was found in a roll of Denver Jefferson dollars obtained from a local bank. He searched through 15 additional rolls from the same bank plus 40 more rolls obtained from another bank in the area and found no addition specimens. At this point his discovery specimen appears to be the only one anybody has reported. He said, ?From what research I have done, this is the first fully plain edge Jefferson dollar to surface.? Based on his inability to find any reports on additional examples, he suggested that it might just be an isolated example that somehow escaped the edge letting process. He theorized that it might have been a single plain edge coin left in the bottom of a tote bin ? a bin that was later used to catch the finished coins ejected from the Schuler edge lettering machine. Once it was in the mix it was processed just like the rest of the normal coins in the bin.


Countryman said the coin was found Sept. 5 while going through a new roll obtained at bank in northwest Iowa. After being urged by this writer to try to obtain the original box that the roll was shipped in he successfully acquired it from the bank and learned that the date on the bottom was July 5, 2007 and that inspector number was 4692.

To authenticate the coin, I scrutinized the edge closely and found it to be unaltered. The weight and diameter were checked and found to be within tolerance. The boundary between the rim and field were also checked microscopically to make sure that a Washington or Adams dollar plain edge error coin was not lathed into a shell grinding away the Washington or Adams obverse to allow for a Jefferson dollar lathed down in diameter and thickness to be inset and glued within the shell with the obverse up in a like manner to the typical production method use to manufacture two-headed novelty coins.

Many observers including this writer have been running searches on eBay on an almost daily basis in the hope that some plain-edge or doubled-edge lettered errors appeared on the Jefferson dollars. To date the only plain-edge examples to appear were what a few sellers were referring to as ?partial plain edges? where a coin was apparently misfed through the edge-lettering press and skipped a portion of the inscription. These auctions have not resulted in particularly high prices and the coins are not true plain-edge errors and are not being responded to by bidders as such.

Properly issued Presidential dollars are first struck normally on standard Schuler coinage presses within a smooth restraining collar intended to create a plain, smooth edge; they are eventually moved by forklift to the edge lettering area. The edge lettering (and date) is then impressed into the edge of the coins by running them through a Schuler edge-lettering machine specially adapted to the high-speed output required by the Mint (reported at being 1,000 coins per minute). They are force-spun by a steel wheel through a piece of tooling with a channel machined into it (referred to as a segment die) that contains the date, mintmark, E PLURIBUS UNUM and IN GOD WE TRUST raised in reverse. This presses the date and legends into the edge incuse. Bypassing this process is what causes the smooth edge errors.

Ken Potter is the official attributer and lister of world doubled dies for the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America and for the National Collector?s Association of Die Doubling. He privately lists U.S. doubled dies and other collectible variety types on both U.S. and world coins in the Variety Coin Register. For more information on either of these clubs, or to learn how to get a variety listed in the Variety Coin Register, send a self-addressed, stamped business size envelope and 63 cents to Ken Potter, P.O. Box 760232, Lathrup Village, MI 48076 0232. Contact Ken via e-mail at, or visit his Educational Image Gallery located at