After a proof quarter valued at a staggering $35,000 went on sale, experts revealed why that coin is worth so much. And in case you’re wondering whether you’ve ever encountered a coin that may be valued at a small fortune, here’s how to spot these special quarters.
In 2016 Las Vegas coin dealer Mike Byers listed a quarter on eBay. And despite asking for $35,000 for a coin with a face value of 25 cents, this particular quarter received a lot of attention. Soon, more than 1,500 eBay users were “watching” the listing; the seller received numerous inquiries about the item, too.
So what is it that made this coin so desirable? Well, to start with, it’s a proof quarter. Proof coins are the first ones to go through the press, and they are subsequently checked to see if they are of the required quality before the coins are mass minted and released for general use. In that way, proof coins are often viewed as covetable items for collectors.
During World War One, however, the United States Mint abandoned the proofing process altogether in order to conserve metal; it would be 1936 before it started proofing coins again. At the same time, it allowed collectors to buy proof coins. In the present day, however, such items aren’t used during the testing stage at a mint. Instead, proof coins now tend to be high-quality items made in small batches and sold with certificates of authenticity.
And the quarter that Byers listed for $35,000 is not just any old proof coin. Specifically, it’s a 1970-S proof quarter struck over a 1941 Canadian quarter. In fact, some of the original coin’s details can still be seen, including a faint “1941” on the tails side. And on the heads side, you may be able to view some Latin writing around the border.
The coin in question originated in a set that was sold off by the state government in California. That collection was also inspected by the U.S. Secret Service before it was deemed legal to own. And the reason that this coin is worth so much money is because, as Byers has explained on his website, “Proof errors are aggressively sought after by many error collectors.”
Byers also went into more detail about how the mint makes proof coins and why they are so collectible. “Proof coins are struck by technicians who hand feed the blanks into special presses. They are produced, examined and packaged using extreme quality control,” he explained. “It is very unusual to find major proof errors. A few broadstrikes, off-centers, double strikes in collars and off-metals have been known to be found in sealed proof sets.”
Furthermore, the legitimacy of Byers’ coin has been confirmed by a third-party certification company. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation told Snopes, “Yes, the coin is NGC certified. We do not know how the struck Canadian coin ended up with planchets and being struck by 1970 25c dies at the San Francisco Mint.” For those of us who aren’t coin experts, a planchet is a coin that has not been fully minted but has been given a rim during the first stage of the minting process.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has also certified another coin that Byers is selling – one said to be worth even more than $35,000. Like the other 1970-S proof quarter, the San Francisco Mint created this coin in the 1970s. Offered for $75,000, it was also part of the collection investigated by the Secret Service and then auctioned by the State of California.
The proof Washington quarter was over-struck on a silver Barber quarter. Coin collectors will be happy, too, to see that some of the original details of the silver Barber quarter are visible on both sides of the coin. Byers stated on the listing for the coin that “this is one of the most famous U.S. proof major mint errors ever released from the San Francisco Mint.” Indeed, there are only two coins like this one known to be still in existence.
But while there might only be two Washington quarters struck over silver Barbers, there are plenty of other examples of amazing and interesting minting errors. And a 2017 article published by website The Spruce detailed some of the most intriguing.
Two of the examples that the site mentioned are double die obverse coins, which appear on Lincoln cents on 1970-S and 1972 coins. These are fairly easy to spot, as the doubling of words on the coins is visible. The 1970-S Lincoln cent values at around $3,000, while the 1972 cent will set you back about $500.
A 1969-S Lincoln cent with a double die obverse, however, is worth a great deal more. According to The Spruce, this coin is “exceedingly rare” and sells for around $35,000. In addition, the article reported that “the early specimens were confiscated by the Secret Service until the U.S. Mint admitted they were genuine.”
To detect the 1969-S Lincoln cent with double die obverse, you need to search for specific clues. The Spruce told readers to “look for clear doubling of the entire obverse – or “heads” – side, except for the mint mark.” In fact, if the mint mark is doubled as well, then the coin is not as collectible. “If the mint mark is doubled, it is probably a case of strike doubling rather than a doubled die, which isn’t worth much,” the article explained.
Another less pricey minting error pointed out by The Spruce will only set you back $30 to $50. The 1982 no mint mark Roosevelt dime is missing its minting letter; the “P,” for Philadelphia, was omitted during the minting process. “At the point in time that these coins were made, the dyes sent to the individual branch mints would be punched with the proper mint mark letter for that branch,” the piece explained. “This variety is believed to be caused because one or more non-punched dies were used to make coins.”
The lowest-priced coins that The Spruce highlighted have been valued at $50 – but this price is not per coin, it’s per roll. These coins are particular uncirculated state quarters. “As the economy has worsened, people who have been hoarding rolls of state quarters have been spending them into circulation,” The Spruce stated.
The article went on to explain that demand for these rolls “changes from time to time based on major coin dealer promotions.” It recommended looking for quarters from the states of Georgia, Connecticut, Tennessee and Illinois in particular. The Spruce also noted, however, that all the quarters must be uncirculated.
If you’re looking for something special to add to your coin collection, though, Byers has some very pricey items for sale. For instance, one mint error coin is available for a staggering $150,000, since it features an apparently one-of-a-kind minting mistake. The Byers website describes the coin as a “proof 1992 Canada $15 struck on $50 gold planchet 1oz maple leaf 31.1 grams PCGS PR 67 deep cameo.”
Byers goes on to explain the coin’s high price tag. “This is one of the rarest, most expensive and spectacular Canadian mint error coins known,” he writes. The item is also made more special by the fact that it depicts the 1992 Olympic Games, which the mint commemorated with a silver coin. This particular coin was pressed on a planchet meant for a gold maple leaf coin, though, making it a real collector’s item.
For anyone who wants to know even more about coins and minting errors, Byers has authored a book entitled World’s Greatest Mint Errors, which picked up the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best World Coin Book. It’s advertised as follows on his website, “This book combines stunning imagery with the most accurate information available to provide anyone interested in mint errors with the latest information on mint error coins from the United States and around the world.”