Skip to main content

Mint mistakes: What’s your favorite story?


Joseph Stalin’s initials are not on the Roosevelt dime, though there were rumors in 1946 that Mint Chief Engraver John Sinnock’s initials stood for the Soviet dictator.

The Communist hammer and sickle emblem is not on the Kennedy half dollar. Mint Chief Engraver Gilroy Robert’s initials were misconstrued in 1964.

While numismatics often involves serious research, there are also opportunities to have a little fun with the subject.

On Thursday, March 8, 2018, I will be delivering a Money Talks program at the American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Irving, Texas. My presentation is titled “Oops! A Lighthearted Review of Design (?!) Mistakes on Circulating U.S. Coins.”

I already have a number of examples such as the anatomically incorrect eagle on the original Morgan dollar, a woman dressed as a man, designs where important details wore off quickly, ran afoul of decency standards, or where the face value was not explicitly stated. Then there are coins such as the “Buffalo” nickel, which does not depict a genuine buffalo on either side.


I have accumulated several examples to include in this presentation, but I am confident that readers may have a few more to share. So, this week I am asking for your help. What U.S. circulating coin design mistakes do you know about? Any ideas would be appreciated. Please send them to me at Thank you for any help you can offer.

Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2017 Exemplary Service and 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He was also honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild in 2017 and 2016 for the Best Dealer-Published Magazine/Newspaper and for Best Radio Report. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express. >> Subscribe today

More Collecting Resources

• Liked this article? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News.

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you'll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins.