By CoinWeek …..
Up for auction on GreatCollections.com is a potentially unique error Proof Bicentennial Washington quarter. Collectors have until Sunday, February 6 to place a bid on this notable error coin. Graded by NGC as Proof-64 UC, this piece has a massive 45% off-center strike with clashed dies. With 17 bids, the high bid when this article was written was $835 USD.
While it is rare for a major error to slip through the Mint’s modern quality control, it is even rarer for a Proof coin. This is due to the high level of care and attention paid to each individual coin by mint workers during the striking process for Proofs. Compounding the value of this coin is the fact that the coin is ultra-cameo and that there are two major errors, the clashed-dies, and off-center strike.
How does the Mint produce such a coin?
Off-center strikes are one of the most common modern errors. They occur when a blank planchet is not centered within the coin press at the time of striking. The feeding fingers do not properly insert this planchet into the coining chamber, and when the hammer (upper) die strikes the coin, the resulting design is off center. The coin on offer from GreatCollections does not display the common collar die scars that usually accompany off-center strikes when they are pressed against the collar during the striking process. Next to the “L” in LIBERTY at 10 o’clock is, however, some interesting pre-strike damage that may point to the reason for the error. Perhaps the planchet got stuck in the machine, and when it reached the dies the automated machinery was unable to properly seat it.
Off-center coins usually must be at least 5% off-center for the error to command any true premium. This example far outstrips that threshold. While the mintmark is not detectable, slightly more than half of the design is still visible.
In addition to the off-center error is the fact that this coin also has clashed dies. This happens when the hammer and anvil dies strike each other when a planchet has not been fed into the striking chamber. Modern minting machinery has a safety tolerance to prevent this, where the dies stop at a distance slightly thinner than the planchet. As a result, the dies must have either been inserted incorrectly or fallen out of alignment.
Luckily, the errors do not distract from the deep eye appeal of the deeply mirrored cameo fields. In fact, the novelty of this piece means that the coin is nearly unique as a Proof silver Bicentennial quarter off-center. The only other comparable certified error is an NGC-graded Proof-67 multiple strike error. Selling for the record price of $6,038 (USD) in a November 2010 auction, that example was struck five times.
The Bicentennial Quarter Design and How the Error Affects It
John Flanagan’s obverse design features a left-facing portrait of George Washington based on the Jean-Antoine Houdon bust of 1786. On this example, only the “L” of LIBERTY that wraps around the top of the coin, above Washington’s hair is visible. The majority of the dual date “1776-1976” wraps around the bottom, below Washington’s bust truncation is visible. Only the “6” in 1976 is cut off. To the left of Washington is the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Lastly, the mint mark “S” which is usually located to the right of the bust, is not visible.
Jack Ahr’s colonial drummer occupies most of the reverse, with a small “victory torch” surrounded by 13 five-pointed stars on the left. Most of the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA that wraps clockwise around the top half of the quarter is visible. The “F” in OF is partially visible, and AMERICA is completely missing. Additionally, the denomination QUARTER DOLLA, cradled counterclockwise at the bottom is missing. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is crammed between the torch and the drummer’s right arm.
Bidding closes on Sunday, February 6, 2022, at 09:02:28 PM Pacific Time (12:02 Eastern).
To search through GreatCollection’s archive of over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past eight years, please visit the GreatCollections Auction Archives.