Bidding is now live on GreatCollections.com for a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win a unique US Mint error coin. This 1906 Indian Head cent, certified and graded VF 25 by NGC, is not only an off-metal error but it is also struck over a Mexican gold 5 peso coin. Discovered while searching bulk US coins at a coin show, despite the uneven strike of the overtype, this coin is much more than just a simple curiosity.
Interested collectors should be aware that the auction for this unique error ends in two months on Sunday, September 18, 2022, at 5:00 PM Pacific Time (8:00 Eastern). At the time of publication, the current high bid is $34,333 after 49 bids.
Off-metal errors occur when a coin is struck on a planchet of an alloy not intended for that particular issue. The most well-known example is the 1943-D copper Lincoln cent. While these errors are already comparatively rare, gold examples are nearly impossible to find due to the value of the metal involved and the extra care taken by mint workers in striking these high-value pieces. In fact, since gold cost $20.67 per ounce in 1906 ($680.53 adjusting for inflation), and because the host coin has 0.1206 ounces of gold, the United States Mint lost $2.49 ($81.98 adjusting for inflation) due to this error.
This was the first year that this error could have been made, since not only did the US Mint begin striking coins for Mexico in 1906 but it was also the only year that they struck 5 peso coins, during which time they produced four million pieces.
While it has a very uneven strike, the fact that both coins measure 19mm makes the overtype design sit perfectly over the undertype. This coin has significant wear, which shows that it was not pulled from circulation and passed through many hands until found at a coin show!
Valuing gold off-metal errors can be difficult due to their rarity and since they almost never come to auction, there are very few similar pieces to compare with. That being said, this is not the only Indian Head cent struck on US gold planchets. There are six other known examples: three 1900s, one 1905, one 1906, and one 1907 – all of which are extremely valuble. It is highly unlikely that these were accidental errors, and numismatist and author Andrew W. Pollock, III has posited that they were in fact “deliberately struck for one or more collectors” (MintErrorNews, 7). This particular coin however is the only off-metal Indian Head cent struck on a foreign gold host coin!
The Indian Head Cent Design and How the Error Affects It
The obverse of the Indian Head cent shows a leftward-facing bust of Miss Liberty adorned in a feathered headdress representative of Native American culture. The headdress includes ornate ribbons, including a large ribbon at the base of the headdress below the feathers over Liberty’s forehead that is inscribed with the word LIBERTY. A smaller ribbon drapes down the back of Miss Liberty’s neck and is laced with a diamond pattern.
Another segment of ribbon located deeper in Liberty’s lower hair detail gained more numismatic significance in 1864 when it received the initial “L” for Mint Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is inscribed in the field along the obverse rim, and the date 1909 sits at the bottom center of the obverse directly under Liberty’s neck.
The reverse of the 1906 Indian Head cent features an oak wreath with a Union shield at the top center of the field. The wreath encircles the denomination ONE CENT, which is expressed in two lines of text at the center of the reverse. There is no mintmark since both the host coin and the Indian Head undertype were struck by the Philadelphia Mint.
No traces of the undertype are visible on the faces, so the only place the design has been affected is the edge. This error coin has an edge inscription “INDEPENDENCIA Y LIBERTAD” instead of the standard plain edge of an Indian Head cent.
Bidding ends on Sunday, September 18, 2022, at 5:00 PM Pacific Time (8:00 PM Eastern).
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MintErrorNews – https://minterrornews.com/gold_cent_special.pdf