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Missing mintmark error discovered

Mint error alert. Time to recheck the coins you own.

Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has discovered five 2014 Great Smoky Mountain 5-ounce silver America the Beautiful collector coins with a missing “P" mintmark.

The collector version of the large silver coin is supposed to have a “P” mintmark on the obverse under IN GOD WE TRUST.

In contrast, the regular version sold to bullion investors does not have a mintmark.

You can guess how this error came to be.

A missing mintmark is a wonderfully collectible error.

Every collector can see it.

They can understand it.

They don’t need extreme magnification.

They don’t need to understand error collecting mumbo-jumbo.

The “P” is visible or it is absent.

What can be simpler?

Well, not so fast.

There can be some confusion.

Last year, when more No “S” proof cents in 1990 proof sets were reported, I received numerous emailed images of circulation strike 1990 Philadelphia cents.

The senders had leaped to the conclusion that because the coin had no mintmark, it must be valuable.

In the case of this 5-ounce coin discovery, it must be remembered that the collector version with a “P” mintmark has a vapor-blasted surface that leaves a granular-looking matte surface.

The standard regular bullion coin without a “P” mark has a brilliant, or shiny, reflective surface.

Since neither version of these 5-ounce coins can be found in circulation, I do not expect a flood of emails inquiring about the error.

NGC grades investment coins as Mint State and the collector version with the matte surface as Specimen.

David J. Camire, NGC finalizer and error specialist, said the error probably happened “when coins intended to be sold as Mint State versions (and therefore without the “P” mintmark) were accidentally mixed with coins designated to be vapor-blasted, which happens after the coins are struck.

"The vapor-blasted missing mintmark coins were then individually packaged along with the other Specimen issues and sold by the U.S. Mint.

"It is not known how many of these errors were released, or if others await discovery."

What is known by NGC is “all of the coins had arrived at NGC in the standard U.S. Mint packaging for the Specimen issues and the error was unnoticed until the first NGC grader examined the coins.

"A fifth example was discovered in a separate submission.”

The sharp-eyed grader deserves a pat on the back.

Modern Coin Mart, which submitted the coins for grading, is to be congratulated on its good fortune.

What’s each of these coins worth?

How many zeroes after a numeral will be attached?

Modern Coin Mart is an expert marketing firm. I expect we will find out soon.

For the rest of us, if you have some collector “P” mintmarked 2014 America the Beautiful coins, you had better check them out again just to be sure the mintmark is there.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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