You may have noticed the lack of my finds postings lately. It's been a pretty lean second half of the year. I'll go into the perceived reasons in my year end wrapup in a couple weeks. In the meantime, here is a surprise find which I'm hoping is authentic.
I was in my favorite local park which has grudgingly produced a few old coins (including Indian Head Pennies and Mercury dimes) and relics. When I hunt and pull out a coin I try to do a gross identification so as to know if I'm in an area producing old coins or not. If I get a bronze Lincoln penny I would like to distinguish Wheat (1909-1958) vs. Memorial (1959-1982). I don't carry a magnifier so even if my aging eyes would allow me to see a date, it is often obscurred by corrosion/scaling. As most of you know I am adverse to rubbing a coin in the wild.
When I recovered the coin in the photo, I quickly noticed the Lincoln Memorial reverse and that was all I needed for the moment -- into the finds pocket and back to detecting. After I get home I soak my coins in water to get the dirt off. (Stinkin' Zincolns -- 1982 to date Lincolns are the exception. Even for the ones which haven't deteriorate beyond recognition I don't care about the dates and mintmarks. As far as I'm concerned Zincolns are equivalent to can slaw in value.)
After getting the dirt soaked off I checked the date, and immediately noticed the imprint above the date -- part of the word LIBERTY spelled backward. My first question when I get an unusual find (coin, ring, relic, or even gold nugget) is "is this authentic or is it a reproduction/fake?" Certainly that was a thought that quickly went through my mind. I'm still not sure but (as you'll see below) there is at least one good sign that it's for real. Until I can get it looked at by a specialist in numismatic rarities I'm going conservative(?) with 80-20 that it's the real deal.
Error coin collecting is a special, uncommon branch of numismatics. I have some books on the subject and there are multiple websites. I did some digging and came to some conclusions, as always which may not be valid. One of my conclusions is that if this specimen is authentic then it is quite rare. Unfortunately 'rare' doesn't always translate to 'valuable' and that is the case with most error coins. If real, it's an oddity, a curiosity, and a collectible but the demand is small so the value (crossing point of supply and demand if you remember your high school ecconomics) is low.
Time to look carefully at the photos. A friend took these pics with his Smartphone and they are better than I could have done, but I still plan on getting better pictures from another friend who has high end photography equipment. When I do that I'll post them here. In the meantime look at the obverse (Lincoln's head side). BTW, I've looked at these by hand with a magnifier and I can get better resolution, so I'll emphasize what I see that way and compare/contrast what you can see in the attached images. Not the entire word LIBERTY is shown backward. The 'L' missed the coin, being off the edge when struck. The 'B' is vertically doubled. In fact I think the rest of word is doubled, too, but not as clearly distinguished. Another feature occurs at 8 O'clock where the letters 'RUST' are apparent, but also backward. Now here's clue worth noting: the location of the 'RUST' (from the word 'TRUST' in the motto 'IN GOD WE TRUST' is not consistent with the location of the backward 'LIBERTY'. Another feature which is only barely visible in the photo is a ghost rim between 9 O'clock and 11 O'clock. Finally there is a hollow 'shadow' in front of Lincoln's face (not apparent in the photo) which is consistent with the backward impression of Lincoln's head on the planchet, and consistently located with the 'IBERTY'.
So how was this coin made? This is where the 'unusual' comes in -- however that is typical for error rarities. Multiple unexpected happenings conspire, and that's what makes them rare. (Further, they must get past mint inspection, although that isn't neccessarily difficult since hundreds of coins are struck per minute and there's no way the mint can afford to look at each one carefully. Rather a scan of the many coins in a bin picks up only the extreme, obvious irregularities, and not always even those.)
I introduce the word 'brockage' which has been created by error specialists to describe the following: a coin is struck but when being cleared into the collection bin, either sticks in one of the two dies or jumps from one press to a neighbor press, landing on the lower die (which might or might not already contain a 'planchet' = blank, ready for the next cycle). The typical brockage strike has the *same* image on both sides, but one reversed. The coin I have doesn't fit this description but is instead even more unusual.
A second rare occurrence (always present with brockage but sometimes without brockage) is a multiple strike. 'Multiple' could mean double, triple, quadruple,... and there are examples of error coins which were struck even more than that! One result of multiple (strike) brockage -- which I contend is seen here, is that each subsequent strike shows less resolution. Dies are hardened steel, made to last thousands or even 10's of thousands of strikes. A brockage coin is effectively a die, but rather than hardened steel it is a softer metal meant to be imprinted only once. So here is the scenario I came up with, which isn't the only explanation but it is a possibilty.
Coin A is struck normally but its ejection causes it to land on a neighbor press where a planchet has already been placed for striking (we'll call this 2nd planchet 'coin B). In the process of ejection, coin A (already normally struck) flips over(!). The second machine's dies come together with the two coins in between, leading to the first brockage strike. The only(?) remnant of this first brockage strike is the backward lettering 'RUST' at 8 O'Clock. After the dies separate, the lower coin B fails to be ejected, nor does coin A, but there is a relative rotation between the two. (It's not clear which coin, if either, maintained its orientation in the die. However, the fact that the reverse shows no doubling makes me think that coin B did not shift in the lower die.) A second brockage strike occurs, now producing the 'IBERTY' shown at 3 O'clock. Lincoln's head, among other things is imprinted backward in the coin. Now the upper coin (coin A) is ejected but the lower coin B remains in the lower die and a third, this time 'normal' strike occurs with just one planchet/coin between the dies. This third strike obliterates most of the details from strike #2 (just as strike #2 obliterated most of strike #1 details). Finally coin B is ejected. I don't know what happened to coin A, but my contention is that the coin in the photo is coin B.
The reason I contend that the first strike resulted in the backward 'RUST' and the second the backward 'IBERTY' is the clarity of the lettering. (Recall above where I report that each subsequent brockage strike loses clarity due to the soft material of the 'false die' = coin causing the brockage strike.) In particular the 'U' in 'RUST' is quite clean and pronounced. All of the 'IBERTY' letters are smeered and in some cases what appears to be doubled.
So, why do I think this isn't a fake? How would someone produce a fake? I can think of a simple example: put two coins together (facing each other) and wack them with a hammer! But if that were the case here, the final strike's forward 'LIBERTY' would show an overprint of the first 'T' in the backward '(T)RUST' and that is not present. Further, there should be other remants of the fake overstrike elsewhere on the high parts of the obverse which I can't find. The backward images that actually remain on my coin are on the low parts of the coin's field, not the high parts.
So, what's it worth? A look at my (now) 45 year old copy of Modern Mint Mistakes (authors Phillip Steiner and Michael Zimpfer) which provided most of the above knowledge and details of speculation, indicates (standard) brockage pennies (recall -- both sides with same image, but one backward) were in 1974 worth in the 10's to low 3 figures of dollars, and that multiply struck coins can be in the similar range. My coin, if authentic, has both but I coudn't find this particular oddity in the book, on Ebay, nor in a quick online search of error websites. As detectorists are all too aware, though, coins with a high copper content don't tend to fare well after decades in acidic or basic soils. These flaws (damage) can drastically reduce a coin's value. And as always, it's only worth what someone is willing to pay. As of now I'll just rest on and be happy with my 80-20 hunch that I've found a true error rarity. I'll keep you informed after I get some better photos and subseqent expert opinions.
Hi folks...been working my butt off last few years. Purposely trying to slow down for awhile, get in some detecting, fishing, and work on my own house for a change. Went with some buddies, back to a camp weve hit for years. Place had activity from 48 to depression. Deus with 9" hf coil is the ticket. The nug was nice ...was just discussing how we where surprised one hadnt turned up yet. The 3 cent nickel is a first for me, and rare Ca find. Merry Christmas everyone!
Was on a football field today using the 15" in park 1 and hit a jumpy signal. I decided to dig it because it was loud and chaotic sounding... probably like was said about it by the parents of the teen who owned it originally. When I got it home, I checked to see if there was a tape in it. The tape cover popped off and emptied a full load of wet sand onto the floor...still being obnoxious. This is the first one of these that I have ever dug. Bucket list: cassette player...check.
Got back to having a swing around my usual spots with the Nox 600 after a month's break, it's funny how targets grow back if you leave the area alone for a while:
Also picked up $6.50 in modern coinage in one spill which in a way was more unusual than the old pennies - not much modern action in this old gold-mining area so pre-decimal coinage is the order of the day usually.
Went out for a bit earlier today and found these. The quarter was shallow on edge of what was a small orchard. The locket hinge still works but the photo has disolved away. Locket was pretty deep under a good size rock. Think it was silver plated at one time. Grounds starting to freeze so might be getting close to the end of the season. I'll call it a day when my digger makes a clank sound and I can't dig.