Error Coins – A Tricky Numismatic Subject

Edit 01 May 2023

Following a clean out of the office I recalled the patently fraudulent Centenary Florins that were either cast or struck from dies that had been cast. It leaves a faint bubbly surface that doesn’t survive a close inspection of the coin. The high points of the off-collar struck 1945 Penny recently purchased show similar bubbling. I suspect that the die that pressed this error was cast.

Furthermore, the original coin is heavily worn with bag marks, while the fields of the error are significantly better – almost UNC. Given that such a spectacular error would have led to the conservation of such coin, I can only surmise that the coin was in circulation until it was given a new lease of life with a cast punch, creating said error. The coin is – in all likelihood – a relatively modern counterfeit of a mint error.


25 April 2023

Following is a chain of emails between Mike Diamond of error-ref.com and myself concerning a 1944Y possible double strike penny.

START EMAILS

Hi Mike, 
I’ve got questions about this coin; perhaps you can assist? The reverse double strike in collar with rotation I can understand. Looking at the reverse legend suggests to me that the off centre strike occurred first. This would explain the obliteration of much of the obverse off strike by the 2nd strike. Yet I am surprised that so much of the rim detail remains following the 2nd strike. This is one aspect of this coin that I question. 
I can see elements of the initial obverse strike in the legend – the B in BR is about 6 degrees off (?). What is strange is that the legend on the right side of the coin is complete and not overwriting the earlier strike. The legend on the left side of the coin is a mess of 2 legends struck in rotation. 
I am beginning to become more attentive to the possibility of fake errors entering into the Australian market. This is the 2nd coin I’ve bought to further my understanding of errors.
Thank you & 
Kind regards,
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Dear Les:

    I have doubts about the authenticity of the second strike.  On the reverse (kangaroo side) we see a 55% horizontal misalignment of the hammer die.  The obverse shows a slightly off-center strike.  The second strike was also quite weak.  The pale color and grainy texture are also concerning.  If it is genuine, it’s a remarkable, and remarkably rare striking error.
Mike
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Hi Mike,
Went and drilled into the mechanics of engineering misalignment today to better understand that 1945 penny: 
image.png

I initially thought it was a combo misalignment, but the obverse die remained more or less in collar. It was the hammer die’s angular pressure that created a weak obverse 2nd strike with mild rotation in the quadrant that the hammer die struck a 2nd time. I hazard a guess that the angle was so extreme (as you said – a 55% horizontal misalignment) that there is little on the reverse to show and the obverse was not uniformly affected.

One can see the reverse roo’s head is about 1mm elevated above the original strike. The obverse high points has seen scraping during the 2nd strike, which is the blander colour visible. My issue was the raw metal luster on the rim imprint made by the 2nd strike. However I know from Doug Kurz’s excellent write up and from additional research that a stable protective film of oxidation can protect that area of strike from further oxidation. This is the best answer I can come up with. 

Kind regards,
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Dear Les:

    I see no evidence that the hammer (reverse) die was tilted when this coin was struck.
    Die misalignments can occur in all three planes and around all three axes.  You can get horizontal (offset) misalignments of both the hammer and the anvil die.  You mainly get vertical misalignments (tilted die errors, angular misalignments) affecting the hammer die.  You can also get pivoted die errors, again largely restricted to the hammer die.  In this error the hammer die swivels around an axis located some distance from the center of the die.  Combined movements naturally occur.
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Hi Mike, 

Ok, so if this coin is legit, a horizontal misalignment occurred after the first strike and the coin failed to be ejected from the press (I understand the odds on that sort of error). 
I had assumed that the lack of detail on the 2nd strike was due to angular misalignment. But if the collar die was surrounding the planchet I’m guessing that strike number 2 would be impeded by the collar. Is this a safe assumption?
Fascinating stuff – thanks for taking the time to explain. 
Cheers & 
Kind regards,
—————————————–

Hi Mike, 

Ok, so if this coin is legit, a horizontal misalignment occurred after the first strike and the coin failed to be ejected from the press (I understand the odds on that sort of error). 
That is correct.
I had assumed that the lack of detail on the 2nd strike was due to angular misalignment.
The second strike was quite weak.
 But if the collar die was surrounding the planchet I’m guessing that strike number 2 would be impeded by the collar. Is this a safe assumption?
I can’t tell if the second strike was inside or outside the collar. You might want to measure its east-west diameter.  Even if the coin was confined by the collar during the second strike, there’s nothing to impede a horizontal misalignment of the hammer die, which floats above the collar.  When the hammer die comes down, it depresses the collar down to the level of the coin’s upper surface.
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Hi Mike, 

Officially 30.8mm in width, the widest I could get was 31.14mm. A tiny spread on the rim where the die rim strikes the planchet at 4 o’clock. That spread is limited to the upper regions of the planchet. It does not spread on the obverse side. You can see the concave hammer die leaving a raised portion of rim where the roo is and flattening the other quadrants of the rim. This suggests to me that it was in collar (??). 
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Hi Les.

    The manner in which the edge protrudes slightly at 4:30 (reverse face) suggests the second strike was out-of-collar.  I remain suspicious of its authenticity, for reasons stated earlier.

END EMAILS

Error Coins – A Steep Learning Curve

Given the premium I place on time I’ve gone and copied the email chain to speed up this post. Below is the updated image for this coin which I’ve gone and manipulated in Lightroom to better illustrate the blues on the obverse. The reason for the odd colours is simple – this coin has been cleaned. Assuming that the strike is legit, I hazard a guess that the collector decided that polishing their special coin would add value. It doesn’t! It just complicates the process of authentication. 

Given Mike Diamond’s reputation and experience in evaluating error coins, his suspicions of its authenticity is enough for me to take a wait and see approach. I monitor Ebay and other outlets for indications of the Australian market following the flood of American fakes being exported from China. In the meantime, this coin sits in the cabinet and will take on some new toning after gentle restoration with Verdi-Chem stripped back most of the grime.

DATA DATA DATA

As Sherlock Holmes is want to say “I cannot make bricks without clay”. Do you have a similar example that might help shed light on my interests? Please upload in comments or send a quality image to topendcoins@gmail.com.

Cheers,

Les