Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Tails, Revisited

August 19, 2009
Posted by John Dale

Our Blogger-in-Chief, Noah Fleisher, is a trifle indisposed today, so he allowed me to fill in for him on the blog, after a good deal of my waving and yelling “Put me in, coach!” (Make sure to leave him a get-well message in the comments section!)

Back in mid-June, I blogged about two-headed and two-tailed coins, covering topics such as the two-tailed Washington quarter and the two-headed (if not identically two-headed) Lewis and Clark commemorative gold dollars, of which we have a few in our upcoming September 2009 Long Beach U.S. Coin Auction.

There’s another fascinating error in the auction, though, a two-tailed coin that comes not from the United States, but across the pond: a one euro cent coin struck with two reverse dies, graded MS63 Red by NGC. It’s an odd little coin, even more mysterious than the average two-headed or two-tailed coin (and that’s saying something).

First of all, nobody knows where exactly it was made or when. Because this is a coin with two reverses, each side shows the “universal” reverse that is common to every coin in the one euro cent denomination, rather than the country-specific obverse. Thus, any country in the Eurozone that struck the denomination could have been its source.

Moreover, because the reverse design was static for a number of years, there is no date either, (though NGC not-so-helpfully suggests a date range from 2000 to 2007, which manages to exclude only a couple of years of coinage for the denomination). There’s just so little information to go on that its place and time of origin likely will never be traced.

The two sides, though identical in design, can be distinguished in a fashion. On the obverse—scratch that, on the side that is aligned with the front side of the coin’s holder—there is a small toning spot on one of the lines below the globe. On the other side, there is no spot in the area. Similarly, the areas of toning found elsewhere do not sync up.

Still, this euro cent error has induced plenty of double-takes, even among veteran numismatists. Whatever happens to it after the auction, whether it goes on to become part of a comprehensive error collection or simply settles down as a fascinating pocket-piece, it will command attention.

To leave a comment (or get-well wishes for Noah), click on the title of this post.

-John Beety

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