Error coin collectors are being sucked in by offers of coins for sale with missing paint errors. Coloured 2 dollar coins are dis-honestly being sold as rare error coins from the Mint with descriptions like missing stripes no colour error, scarce mistake or whatever catchy phrase the seller thinks will entice unwary buyers into a bidding war. Don’t be fooled, these coins are not Mint mistakes and are very easy to make, with sellers taking advantage of how easy it is to deface these coins.
The coloured $2 coins have become extremely popular with collectors and there have been quite a few released now by the Royal Australian Mint. First was a red poppy coin in 2012, next a purple coronation coin in 2013, a green Remembrance Day commemorative in 2014 and two military themed coins in 2015, a red for 100 years of ANZAC and an orange coin “In Flanders Fields”.
Royal Australian Mint CEO Mr Ross MacDiarmid spoke about the 2013 Coronation coloured $2 at the time of its release:
“There is no colour that can actually sort of continuously survive on any metal so we’ve come up with a technology and a capability enables us to ensure the colour stays on this particular coin as long as possible.”
It’s well known that the colour added to these coins will not stay on forever in circulation. Flecks of paint are usually seen in Mint bags from paint that has not adhered to the coin surface or have chipped away both with wear and being banged together with other coins. The paint can also be removed accidentally by exposure to certain chemicals or solvents or on purpose by being exposed to humble nail polish remover or acetone. This is what I believe has been done to the coins being falsely sold as error coins on eBay in the last few months. The paint has simply been removed with a bath in acetone.
This is nothing new. Dodgy sellers have been doing it since the first coloured coins came from the Mint and we tested this process on a 2006 coloured ocean series dollar coin to see what was under the paint -it was very easy to do. Collectors are also warned in the pocket guide to Australian Coin and Banknotes (22nd page 156) that a year 2000 Millennium commemorative proof coin with the paint removed was once offered as an error coin and sold for over $500. The pocket guide by Greg McDonald even warns those browsing eBay to do your homework about what you are buying before you part with your hard-earned cash.
There have been only just a couple of occasions where I believed a genuine mint error has occurred where the paint has been added to the obverse instead of the reverse by the painting process at the Mint. In just a fraction of a second an optical device checks which side of the coin is up for painting and accepts or rejects each coin, this is where a mistake by the machine would have occurred. Even then I have not seen these coins in hand so I cannot confirm their authenticity. One would assume if it were found (and stayed) in a sealed Royal Australian Mint bag then it could well be a true error.
Below are just a few examples of eBay listings (click the image to enlarge).