As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine June 2021
What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the mint
In this article we showcase an unusually shaped 1961 shilling which at first glance appears to be a cut down coin. However, close examination of the coin shows that it is indeed a genuine mint error. What aspects of the coin should you, the error coin collector, examine to distinguish this coin from a damaged one? Three key points of interest are below:
1. Examine the bases of the legend lettering near the missing areas of the coin. They should show the characteristic ‘fish tail’ appearance that is a sign of unconstrained radial metal flow. The letters TIA REGIN of GRATIA REGINA clearly show this on the obverse.
2. Do the design elements near the missing areas of the coin appear to be “falling” toward the edge of the coin? This is another sign of unconstrained metal flow. Note on the reverse how the arms of the star are bending toward the rim of the coin.
3. Look at the transition from areas of fully struck up rim to poorly struck up rim. A genuine error should show a gentle flowing transition rather than a harsh or sharp transition. The rim near D: + at the top of the obverse is fully struck and smoothly transitions clockwise as it becomes more and more weakly struck.
There are other elements on this coin that prove its authenticity but the three points above are the most important.
Of course we haven’t classified this error yet. There’s a clue in the shape of the coin which allows us to call it an Elliptically Clipped Planchet Error. The error has come about due to a failure in the process that punches out coin blanks from a metal strip, leading to an incomplete planchet being struck. The Elliptically Clipped Planchet Error is probably the second hardest clipped planchet error to find, and if you ever have the chance to purchase one at a reasonable price you should do so. You’re unlikely to see another one any time soon!
Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run The Purple Penny coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.