As separate of his research in writing the feature, Steve Roach contacted United States Mint officials for comment on some Proof “ errors ” that had no distant prospect of fitting into any slot in the hard-plastic holders introduced for Proof sets in 1968. The Mint ’ s reaction was “ the Mint declines to comment, ” which did not surprise me at all .
however, the mistake collecting community has a collective memory, providing background on how at least some of these physically impressive Proof coins were released. It was the error community, in fact, that notified Mint officials that something leery was going on after the appearance in the market of Proof error coins that could not have been released legitimately.
Error mint specialists Fred Weinberg, who is winding down his avocation career, and the late Arnold Margolis explained what happened in their book The Error Coin Encyclopedia ( one-third edition, 2000 ) .
The authors begin by stating that the “ national of errors on proof coins is a delicate one for the error coin collector. ” Proof coins are struck under greater scrutiny than circulation strikes, and in the 1960s and 1970s, the Proof come to output summons involved a lot of hands-on steps, including feeding planchets into the imperativeness and removing the strike coins subsequently. While it is possible for a faulty planchet to be fed into a press striking circulating neologism ( such as penny planchet falling between 5-cent mint dies ), it would have been impossible for the Eisenhower dollar struck on three copper-nickel clothe dime bag planchets cautiously arranged in a kind of clover leaf form to have been struck by mistake. Just impossible .
Margolis and Weinberg explained how an “ error ” of such proportions was produced ( though they were not targeting this specific passing ). “ It was established that some of the operators of validation presses occasionally created change shape proof coins. ”
But how did they escape ?
The two error specialists explained, writing, “ A few chatty and loose-lipped collectors boasted about how it was done. ”
In the 1970s, the San Francisco Assay Office was not only striking Proof coins for collectors, it was making coins for circulation. That resulted in lug bins of planchets and coins being moved around the production deck by propane forklift trucks. Those forklifts sporadically needed alimony, which was done outside the Mint facility. Are you getting an mind as to how these misshapen Proof coins were removed from the Mint ?
After a intentionally created Proof coin oddity or Proof coin struck on a wrong planchet was completed, the press operator or accomplice dropped the coin into the petroleum filler rant of a handy forklift. The coin sink to the bottom of the oil pan, surrounded by petroleum. finally, the forklift was transported outside the Mint for sour. The oil pan was drained, and the coins removed and cleaned in gasoline, presumably by a confederate of the Mint employees. The coins were then sold to collectors and dealers who apparently did not concern themselves with birthplace .
erroneousness specialists who did care about right field and wrong contacted the Mint, and “ notified the mint about this smuggling route, ” the Margolis-Weinberg koran states. “ When we visited the San Francisco Mint some meter belated, we were shown the screens and security measures added to the crotch ski tow petroleum makeweight pipe to prevent this natural process from recurring. We were besides thanked for the help oneself in plugging the leak. ”
The coins made in this manner ( I think calling them “ error ” coins is wrong, since they did not occur because of some bad luck or error in the production procedure ) were national to confiscation by the Secret Service as being illegally made and smuggled, rear when this was newsworthiness. however, these Proof coins remain in the market, and Mint officials largely have ignored their own investigations into illegal activities at one of their facilities. They show no sake into moving against these coins.
obviously, the marketplace accepts these coins, and some collectors are felicitous paying thousands of dollars for coins that show every reading of having been created through illegal means .
But does that make it right ?
These coins were made illegally, smuggled illegally, and sold into the marketplace illegally. I guess that individual collectors and dealers will have to determine for themselves whether to purchase, sell and own such “ mistake ” coins .