Types of US Mint Coin Errors

Did you know that one of the most sought after coins to collect is one that was an error? That’s right. When you are producing a mass amount of coins there are bound to be mint errors. Those errors might be due to a faulty machine, or contaminated materials. However, the U.S. mint has inspectors on staff whose job is simply to ensure that these defective coins are removed and destroyed. However, the inspectors are only human so sometimes these defective coins slip through the cracks.

Today, our coins are created at such a high speed that it is tough for the unaided eye to catch any glitches. In fact, nearly every second ten coins are being made. To combat this, the mints have installed machines whose sole purpose is to quality control check the coins that are being manufactured. These machines will check for misshapen coins. Theoretically, these machines should help to keep all coins with an error out of circulation, but there have often been found misshapen coins out in the world. However, not all of the defective coins that have been found have been purely mistakes. In the past, there have even been workers from the mint who made a great deal of money by selling collectors coins with errors. However, the U.S. Mint takes that behavior very seriously, and will prosecute any offenders to the fullest extent of the law. That being said, error coins have a very high price tag associated with them so the desire to distribute them is also very high.

Error coins are typically referred to as FIDO’s, which stands for Freaks, Irregulars, Defectives, and Oddities. However, in the 1960s, an interest in error coins started to develop. In fact, there were even clubs started that were dedicated to studying these FIDO’s. Since the 1960’s the popularity of these coins has steadily increased.

There are three types of coin errors that can be made. Collectors have developed a classification system to identify these defective coins. They label each error coin with a P (Planchet), a D (Die), or an S (Strike). Often though a single coin could contain more than one error, but the majority of error coins do fall into one of the three categories.

A P (planchet) rating means that the coin does not have the raised rim like a traditional coin would have. A planchet error can also mean that the coin was struck with the wrong press. A D (die) rating means that the coin has endured a “die error.” Probably the most common type of die error is when a portion of the die pulls away and produces a crack in the coin. The third classification an S (Striking) rating are usually the most sought after effort coins. A striking error is when something goes wrong with the pressing of the coin resulting to an error in the image on the coin. For example, an off center coin is quite a common striking error. Coins like this have a hefty price tag that will accompany them.

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