Monday, May 4, 2009

It’s a cent! It’s a dime! It’s… an 11 cent piece?!

May 4, 2009
Posted by John Dale

Confusion is rare in the coin cataloging department at Heritage… after all, we are catalogers: We’re logical; we organize and write with clarity! Unfortunately, we do have one weak point: our names.

There are two Marks: Chief Cataloger Mark Van Winkle and Senior Cataloger Mark Borckardt. Of the rest of the cataloging staff three out of four are named John or Jon; only Brian Koller has a first name to himself. It’s impossible to say “Hey, Mark!” or “Hey, John!” without sending multiple heads swiveling. Our names also cause more than a few double-takes when Heritage tours come through.

“This is our cataloging department… and here are Jon Amato, John Salyer, and John Beety, our three Johns.”

Naturally, we’ve come up with our own nicknames, though I had to promise not to reveal any of theirs under pain of swift and terrible retribution. That side of the conversation looked something like this.

The catalogers’ nicknames may be off the table, but there’s another nickname I’m free to talk about: “11 cents.”

That nickname is given to a particular error coin, created when a previously minted dime is fed into a coinage press and receives a second strike, this time from cent dies, as happened to a coin in our upcoming Long Beach auction. It was struck twice in 2001 at Philadelphia. The “11 cents” nickname comes from the two denominations added up, “10 cents” for the dime with “1 cent” struck on top. Other varieties created the same way have similar nicknames; most commonly heard is the “6 cents,” in which a previously coined cent receives an impression from nickel dies.

Beyond their rarity (the multiple examples to be offered in our Long Beach auction are exceptional), errors like the “11 cents” are simply fascinating regardless of whether or not one is a coin collector. There is something wonderful yet disconcerting about seeing two faces on one coin, with Lincoln’s unmistakable yet strangely transformed image stamped over the ghostly effigy of Roosevelt. The reverse is less surreal and more whimsical, with unintended foliage growing around the Lincoln Memorial.

Speaking from personal experience, one of the greatest rewards of owning an error coin is being able to show it to others and watch their faces as they try to figure out what went wrong. There is endless variety in the wide-eyed stares and statements of incredulity!

Of course, aside from this auction’s bounty of error coins, there is a wide range of rarities struck as intended that shouldn’t be neglected! Take an hour or two to page through the catalog, whether online or on-lap, and enjoy our broad selection of numismatic treasures.

Click on the title of this post to leave a comment.

-John Dale

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