By Ken Potter – NLG
Image courtesy of NGC
On August 28, Numismatic Guarantee Corporation of Sarasota, Fla., posted notice on its website that it had graded the first known example of a 1973-S uncirculated Ike dollar struck on a copper-nickel clad planchet. This coin, Struck at the San Francisco Assay Office, in its satiny uncirculated finish, was offered by the United States Mint struck exclusively for collectors in 40% silver. NCG said:
“Coins accidentally struck on planchets intended for other issues are known for quite a number of United States coin types, but they are rarely more spectacular than when occurring with dollar coins. This superb gem Eisenhower Dollar was struck at the San Francisco Mint for inclusion in the series of “blue pack” silver-clad dollars offered by the US Mint at $3 apiece from 1971 to 1974. At first glance it could almost pass for one of these silver-clad pieces, but inspection of its edge (made all the more easy through NGC’s unique EdgeView™ holder) reveals the bright orange-red glow of a copper-nickel-clad planchet! This coin has the satiny texture typical of most silver-clad dollars and confirms that it was struck accidentally as part of that series.
The Denver Mint was assigned the role of preparing planchets for San Francisco’s production of the “blue” Ikes, but it was simultaneously making planchets of the copper-nickel-clad composition for its own press run of circulating coins. One of these ordinary planchets evidently found its way into a shipment of silver-clad planchets going to San Francisco and was struck and packaged as a silver-clad issue. While this scenario describes how such an error could have occurred, it did not play out very often. This is the first report of a 1973 S Dollar struck on a copper-nickel planchet.
If that weren’t enough to excite collectors, this coin is also a doubled-die obverse variety! It is DDO-2, as listed and illustrated in the book CONECA Attribution Guide to Eisenhower Dollar Die Varieties by James Wiles, Ph.D. This variety, previously known only in the normal silver-clad composition, is now confirmed on a copper-nickel-clad planchet intended for currency strikes. Collectors should check their “blue packs” for more new discoveries.”
It should be noted here that San Francisco also struck millions of the copper-nickel clad planchets for proof dollars that were included in the standard six-coin proof sets that contained the cent through dollar. Thus, the mix-up may not have occurred at Denver at all. If a copper-nickel clad planchet (or more) remained in the bottom of a tote bin that was later filled and used to transport 40% silver clad planchets to a press striking the 40% uncirculated silver dollars, the wayward copper-nickel clad planchet(s) would have gotten mixed in and could have easily hitchhiked a ride into a press striking the 40% uncirculated dollars. Exactly were the planchet(s) got mixed up, we’ll probably never know.
In regard to its value, Alan Herbert said, “I’d go for at least $5,000.00. Other transitionals have been selling for $1,500 for years.” Error dealer, Mike Byers of San Clemente, CA said, “I’ve handle many Ike off metals, both in mint state and proof. Also many of the Ike Dollar and Kennedy Half transitionals as well. This may be scarcer than the other halves and dollars struck in silver instead of clad, or clad instead of silver, due to planchets being mixed up. I would estimate a wholesale price of $7,500 and a retail price of $10,000.
As one who has been tracking the values of these transitional type errors over the past few years, my assessment of value is $10,000.00 for this coin. It will be interesting to see were it ends up when it finally comes up for sale. The hobby will be eagerly waiting!
Many collectors refer to these “wrong composition planchet” type errors as “transitional errors” since most occur during a transitional period when a coin’s composition is changed from one alloy to another. For example, a few 1943 cents from all Mints, which are normally struck on zinc coated steel planchets, are known struck on copper alloy planchets left over from 1942. While this Ike dollar is not technically a “transitional”, it is often referred to as such anyway.
Readers should note that both of the errors described here are types of which more could have been made and released to collectors. Identifying them should be easy, simply look for the widely rotated reverse on the Korean dollars and the telltale copper-core on the Ike dollars. Let Numismatic News or me know what you find!
Credit should be extended to NGC and Heritage Auctions for the respective photos shown here.
Ken Potter is the official attributer of world doubled dies for the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America and for the National Collectors Association of Die Doubling. He also privately lists other collectable variety types on both U.S. and world coins in the Variety Coin Register. He is a regular columnist in Numismatic News’ sister publication, World Coin News, were he pens the Visiting Varieties column.