As originally published in Australasian Coin and Banknote Magazine in August 2022.
What Went Wrong -error coins that escaped the Mint
If you’ve been reading our articles each month you will be familiar with the collar die, the third die used when striking coins. It is an integral part of the coining process as it is one way of imparting edge design such as reeding. For a round coin, the collar die is shaped like a hollow cylinder and constrains the blank as the coin is struck. This ensures all coins struck are relatively uniform in shape and size and that they adhere to specifications.
The coin we see in Figure 1 is not uniform in shape and does not adhere to the exacting specifications of the Australian florin. Also, it does not show any edge reeding whatsoever. Was this coin struck without that essential third (collar) die?
Due to the complete lack of edge reeding, we can most certainly say yes. The coin was clearly not constrained when struck resulting in a coin with a larger diameter than specified. It is also out-of-round and would most certainly be rejected in coin counting and rolling machines. The nickname for this error-type, the “pancake” came about from the noticeably enlarged and distorted planchet.
Is there any more evidence of the lack of a collar die? The answer is yes. The legends around the entire obverse and reverse have fish-tailing of the lettering which is an indication of radial metal flow (see Figure 2). The coin metal in the letters has flowed outwards leaving a deficit of metal towards the centre of the coin giving rise to the clear ‘fish-tail’ shape of each letter. Similarly, the stars around FLORIN on the reverse have a strange drawn-out appearance as again, the metal flowed into the parts of the stars closest to the rim. Finally note the smeared look of the reverse rim denticles rather than being the neat tooth-shaped features they should be (see Figure 2).
The force of the strike has also spread the planchet so much that it is larger in diameter than the dies striking it, which meant parts of the planchet were not struck at all. These unstruck areas are seen behind Her Majesty’s head on the obverse and from 10 o’clock to 5 o’clock on the reverse.
This 1956 florin struck completely out of collar is a superb error coin in lovely uncirculated condition. It is particularly appealing to error collectors as it is struck on a relatively large silver coin, certainly making it much harder to find and thus more desirable.
Mark Nemtsas and Kathryn Harris own and run ‘The Purple Penny’ coin shop in Adelaide and are passionate about error coins.