Mint Mistakes

November 2, 2013

Mints around the world make mistakes, it's more common than you might think. And sometimes very embarrassing. It could be a technical error, a mixup with die pairing or a very embarrassing spelling error.

Recently coming to light is an embarrassing spelling errors when the Vatican (struck by the Italian State Mint) struck and released a medal commemorating the first year of reign for Pope Francis, misspelling Jesus as Lesus. Almost all of these medals were recalled once the error was noticed but a few remain in collector hands selling for thousands of dollars. In a similar vein in 1854 some British halfpennies bore the inscription for the Queen Victoria, the V wasn't a letter V at all but an inverted A.

British 1854 Halfpenny with inverted A instead of V for Queen Victoria
A mixup with die pairing (heads and tails) can also be embarrassing with one side of the coin of one country struck on the other side of that of a different country. The Royal Mint in London who makes coins for many different countries spectacularly struck the new New Zealand 1967 2 cent with the obverse of the Bahama islands 5 cent creating a mule which was released into circulation at New Zealand's changeover to decimal currency.

1967 (left) New Zealand new 2 Cent reverse, (right) Bahama Islands 5 cent obverse

In Australian circulating currency another type of mule springs to mind as the biggest 'whoops' made by the Royal Australian Mint. In the year 2000 the mob of roos 1 dollar coin minted for circulation was accidently struck with the wrong obverse. Only slightly smaller in diameter the 10 cent coin obverse was used on the wrong coin and it certainly stands out in the crowd.

Mistakes such as these easily stand out but other errors are not so easy to spot.

Pick up a coin from your wallet, hold it queens side facing you by the edges between your thumb and forefinger. Spin it around. Is the design still upright? If it's not then you've found an upset where one of the dies has rotated out of alignment during the production run or been incorrectly fitted in the press. The 2001 Centenary of Federation dollar is one such example that can be found in varying degrees of rotation - actually in every degree of the clock face!

Sovereigns were struck with the obverse seemingly upside down but just like US coins this is known as coin die alignment (or coin orientation) and is how they should be struck. There are just 2 known examples of the 1872 Melbourne shield sovereign being struck at a 180 degree rotation from normal (medallic alignment) which has been done in error. Eric from Drake Sterling Numismatics has written an interesting article about this error sovereign well worth reading.

If you're a keen error collector you'll always be looking out for coins that seem just not quite'll know them when you see them. Don't forget that we've written about many different types of mistakes made by various mints (but in particularly the Australian mints). You should take a look at our error coin archives if you wanted to read more.

Posted by harrisk at November 2, 2013 3:55 PM
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