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Plain edge on Buchanan $1

A James Buchanan Presidential dollar has been found with a plain edge. So far, it is the only one reported.

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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A James Buchanan Presidential dollar has been found with a plain edge. So far, it is the only one reported.


John Porter, a retired Navy veteran living in Port Charlotte, Fla., found it while searching Philadelphia rolls he obtained from a local bank.

This is the second time in just a few weeks that 2010 United States Mint “golden dollars” have been found missing the edge inscription or with what some call a “smooth edge.”

The edge inscriptions intended for Presidential and Native American dollars since 2009 include the date, mintmark, E PLURIBUS UNUM and 13 stars. The first of the 2010 errors reported, (which of course were undated), were on 2010 Denver Native American dollars placed in government issued mint sets that I reported in the Aug. 31 issue.

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Well over two dozen of the Native American dollars have been reported thus far; five reported to me as found by local dealers in Michigan alone while I was attending a small local coin show Sept. 12.

Conversely, Porter’s plain edge Buchanan dollar still appears to be unique. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of Sarasota, Fla., (where Porter had the coin certified and graded), shows on its population report that it is still the only example graded by the firm. The NGC graders called it Mint State-65.

Missing edge lettering became possible with the introduction of the Presidential dollar series in 2007 and the beginning of the Native American reverse series on the Sacagawea dollar in 2009.

A large number of Washington dollars missing the edge inscriptions occurred because at that point the edge lettering machine was located in a different area of the Mint and the struck dollars had to be transported from the striking area to the edge lettering machines in large tote bins. If a tote bin was partially or fully filled with coins without edge lettering and taken straight to the counting and bagging room before being edge lettered then they could easily escape the Mint (as indeed they did).

However, by the time the Buchanan dollars were struck the edge lettering machine had already been integrated into the assembly line of the striking area with little likelihood of any major mishaps occurring involving this error type.

The coin involved should have been processed after it was struck by a Schuler edge lettering machine, but nonetheless, it somehow bypassed the process completely or might have been run through it with the press assembly adjusted too light for the edge lettering die (known as a segment) to impart any inscriptions to the edge.

Porter says that he got started in numismatics collecting proof silver American Eagles but that he got interested in errors to a large degree due to the flood of 2007-P Washington dollars with smooth edges of which significantly large numbers were distributed throughout his state. He credits a number of individuals in getting him started in errors by freely sharing their knowledge with him, including Mike Diamond, Fred Weinberg, John Wexler, B.J. Neff, Billy Crawford and me.

He now buys 80 rolls of each Presidential dollar to search saying he’s had many nice finds including the aforementioned smooth edge Washington dollars, die clashes, a missing clad layer, weak and partial edge lettering, and other error types.

On his latest find he said: “Looking through the first couple of Buchanan rolls, my interest was piqued after finding a few weak edged and a partial edged examples. Upon opening the seventh roll, one coin stood out with a completely clean edge. I viewed it with a loupe to confirm the missing edge lettering, then was at the Post Office shipping it to NGC within an hour of its discovery. It’s my best find so far and am energized to keep up the search.”

Readers are encouraged to report any more examples of this or other significant errors to Numismatic News, or directly to me at the e-mail address below.

Photos of coin in the slab are courtesy of Porter. A stack of plain-edge George Washington dollars, the coin that started the entire search for smooth-edge Presidential dollars, are shown next to a stack of normal edge lettered dollars for comparison.

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 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 61 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 website at

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