By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for PCGS ……
It seems most collectors look for varieties on the obverse and reverse of a coin, and that makes total sense, given the likelihood of aberrations occurring on these broadest and most changeable of surfaces of a coin. But don’t forget to check the edge of a coin – a place often overlooked by the collector yet often yielding some surprising and lucrative oddities.
One of the most popular of these edge oddities involves the so-called “Godless” Presidential Dollars. These gained steam in the general media early in 2007, when the golden dollar coins honoring the nation’s deceased presidents were devoid of the mandated inscription “IN GOD WE TRUST”, which was imprinted on the edges of the coins. And it wasn’t just the national motto absent from the edges, the first to bear inscriptions on U.S. coinage since 1933, but also the date, the mintmark, and the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”
This error variety, which saw tens of thousands of examples surface, once traded for some $600 in the months after their initial discovery. Today, they trade for around $50.
Edge varieties are also to be found among the many edge-lettered U.S. coins of yesteryear, including early half cents, large cents, half dollars, and dollar coins. Collectors have attributed numerous varieties identifiable only by differences in edge lettering and edge ornamentation, and there are still plenty of opportunities for collectors with a keen eye to discover entirely new variations in edge details.
Finally, be sure to scout your coins for edge breaks. Like the garden-variety die breaks commonly attributed through bumps on the obverse and reverse, the die collars that help shape the edge of a coin during its striking can also develop splits, cracks, and other signs of physical damage, resulting in raised anomalies on the coin. Edge breaks represent a segment of error varieties that aren’t widely covered in the numismatic field and thus there may be many coins out there with eye-catching edge issues that are presently floating around under the radar.
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