A 2009 Native American dollar has been found with no edge lettering. This is the type of error that first showed up on Presidential dollars in early 2007 and then became progressively scarcer as the Mint improved quality control.
Jaime Hernandez says on the Professional Coin Grading Service Web site that the coin was first received by PCGS on March 6. So far, it is the only known example.
Fred Weinberg, PCGS authorized dealer and error coin expert, submitted the coin to PCGS.
“So far, just this one Native American coin with missing edge lettering has been found, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more showed up,” Weinberg said. “The 2009 Native American coins have not been available through banks or normal commerce, so obtaining these coins has been challenging.”
Weinberg eventually purchased the coin from the owner and sold it for just under $10,000.
According to Hernandez, at this point the 2009 Native American Sacagawea dollars only are available from the U.S. Mint in $25 rolls or $250 boxes. The error was found by someone who ordered a $250 box.
He also noted that searchers should look for examples with weak edge lettering, saying that authorized PCGS dealer, Mitch Spivack, submitted one that graded PCGS MS-67.
Hernandez defines weak edge lettering as coins that have weakness in one letter or more on the edge lettering inscriptions. Spivack’s coin exhibited large sections of several letters completely missing and received a weak edge lettering designation for this.
The U.S. Mint released the new 2009 Native American dollar Jan. 2.
The obverse features the familiar image of Sacagawea the new annual reverse design shows a Native American woman planting seeds in a field of corn, beans and squash.
On the edge is the date, mintmark and the inscription E PLURIBUS UNUM.
Edge lettering began on the Native American dollar this year. The prior Sacagawea dollars had smooth edges. Edge lettering was first put on dollar coins in 2007 when the Presidential dollar was introduced.
These dollar coins are struck in a separate operation on a Schuler edge letting machine. When the operation first began in 2007, the coins needed to be transported relatively long distances in bins from the coining presses to another area were the edge letting machines processed the coins further to add the date and mottoes.
The edge lettering process was integrated into the production lines starting about 16 months ago, said Mint spokesman Michael White in an April 10 phone interview. The coins now move from the coining press, down a conveyer belt to a hopper, which feeds the coins into the edge lettering machine.
Up until the integration of the edge lettering machine into the production line, hundreds of thousands of Washington dollars, upwards of 10,000-15,000 John Adams dollars, perhaps 1,500 Jefferson dollars and lesser numbers of other issues escaped the Mint without being processed through the edge letting operation.
However, since the operation was tied in the regular production line, such errors have been reduced dramatically to a trickle of just a few known for most dates after 2007, with many of those found in government issued mint sets containing coins with the special matte finish.
Collectors most often refer to this error type as either “smooth edge” or “plain edge,” while the grading services typically refer to them as “missing edge lettering.”
When they were first found on the George Washington dollars the general press sensationalized them as “Godless Dollars” since “In God We Trust” was missing from the edge along with the rest of the inscriptions.
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 may be contacted by sending a long, self-addressed envelope with 60 cents postage to P.O. Box 760232, Lathrup Village, MI 48076, or by contacting him via e-mail at KPotter256@aol.com.