It has been over seven months since collectors were alerted to a major edge inscription error found on 2007-S proof Thomas Jefferson Presidential dollars. Yet to date, there have been no reports of additional finds since the first four specimens were originally publicized in late March. The error involves out-of-sequence mottoes on the edges of the coins. Instead of correctly reading: “2007 S - E PLURIBUS UNUM - IN GOD WE TRUST,” the edges on the error dollars read, “2007 S - IN GOD WE TRUST - E PLURIBUS UNUM.” Raised vertical lines can be seen on the edge of the 2007 and 2008 proof Presidential dollars representing where a bit of metal squeezes out between each segment during striking. There are also two very weak deliminator dots, one preceding the date and another following UNUM.
The coins were found within a group of 200 2007 four-coin Presidential dollar proof sets ordered directly from the Mint by Mesa, Ariz., collector Vitto Pierri early in the ordering period last year. The sets include San Francisco minted proof versions of the 2007-dated George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison dollars. The date, mintmark, and mottoes are applied to the edges of proof Presidential dollars by a three-piece segmented collar that surrounds the coin planchet and simultaneously impresses the incuse edge inscription into the coin while the obverse and reverse dies are striking up the designs.
“Each segment is indexed and placed by hand in a holder,” according to Mint spokesman, Michael White, in a March 20 statement. In effect, all it took was a simple mistake in the hand placement of the segments for the mottoes to appear out of order.
The collars for the proof Presidential dollars are changed frequently. “It is estimated that on average each segmented collar produces 30,000 coins,” said White.
In a March 27 statement, the Mint noted that as many as 100,000 of the errors may have been produced early in the production run before measures were taken to prevent the error from occurring. This seems to suggest that as many as three or more collar changes could have been involved but it does not state that this is what actually occurred.
The conspicuous lack of any reports of additional finds for this error suggests that only one segmented collar may have been involved and that its use in an out-of-sequence configuration may have been quite limited. The question is, how many of the errors actually did get out? The Mint packaging makes them a bit awkward to examine and as a result, many collectors may not have bothered to look. Nonetheless, the potential for a very significant error to be present in unchecked sets is a distinct reality. I ask readers to look and let Numismatic News or me know what you find. While none of these errors have been reported on the other Presidential dollar coins in the set, I recommend that they also be checked.
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. He is a regular columnist in Numismatic News’ sister publication, World Coin News, where he pens the Visiting Varieties column. More information on either of 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 59 cents postage to P.O. Box 760232, Lathrup Village, MI 48076, or by contacting him via e-mail at KPotter256@aol.com. An educational image gallery may be viewed on his Web site at www.koinpro.com.