Coins struck on the wrong or incorrect planchets are a favourite among error collectors. In the Australian coin series wrong planchet errors are one the toughest error types to find and many collections lack an example. However, there’s one exception that is more affordable and common, the 2 cent struck on a 1 cent planchet. You can see an example of this particular error above -this one dated 1988. When the Royal Australian Mint was striking 2 cent coins with the Maklouf portrait for Australia’s bicentennial year the 2 cent blank supply was contaminated with 1 cent blanks. Exactly how many of those 1 cent blanks found their way into the wrong place is unknown but we suspect it’s in the dozens.
Why do we suspect that many? Two reasons. The first, as we keep an eye on the error coin market we see these 1988 2c wrong planchet errors come up for sale reasonably often. You almost always see one in a public auction with a decent error coin session. Also, as we’re always watching error coin sales on the secondary markets such as eBay and various social media channels we see them come up at the rate of one or two a month. That’s proof enough to us that there are quite a few extant examples.
The second reason we suspect there’s several dozen examples of this particular error has less solid evidence to back it up but it’s interesting none the less and perhaps a little piece of Australian coin folklore. The story goes that in the first decade of this century a certain coin dealer in Melbourne purchased a roll (or rolls) of 2 cent coins that included multiples of these wrong planchet errors. The coin dealer would have one of the coins for sale in their cabinet, and when it sold would watch the happy buyer leave the shop before reaching under the counter and removing another of the errors from their roll and putting that up for sale at the same price. Whether it’s true or not we’re not sure, but it’s a great story. Funnily enough one of the authors of this blog purchased their Maklouf portrait wrong planchet 2 cent error from the very same dealer in Melbourne in 2006. Right around the time that the story above is supposed to have taken place.
If you’re looking to purchase one of these desirable wrong planchet errors there are two main things to look at. The first is grade, look for the best grade you can afford showing the most amount of mint red. The example at the top of this article is full red with an unfortunate fingerprint, obviously the fingerprint makes the coin less desirable. But compare that with the coin imaged below which is toned red brown without a detracting fingerprint. Some collectors would prefer the full red example, while others would find the fingerprint too distracting and choose the Red-Brown example. Fussier people may choose to wait for a superior specimen to appear on the market. The second factor to consider with these coins is the visibility of the date. The first coin pictured clearly shows the date, while the second does not. You can see the bottom loops of the date but there is a bit of uncertainty. We’ve seen examples of this error with no trace of the date at all. With no date there is less information and certainty as to the exact nature of the coin and error, lack of certainty with regard to error coins generally means less value. For example, which would you rather purchase “a 1988 2c struck on a 1c planchet” or “a 2c on a 1c planchet date uncertain ranging from 1985 to 1991”. The answer is obvious.
Don’t look past the most crucial identification of the error, weigh the coin to see that it is the weight of a 1 cent piece 2.59g (or it may be that the coin is a different error or just damaged) and being underweight for a 2 cent we’d expect to see weakness in the strike and/or metal flow such fishtailing of the design -obvious fishtailing seen in the close-up image of the date above and the obverse legends on the coin below.
Summing up, the 1988 2c on 1c planchet is the most affordable example of a wrong planchet error in the Australian decimal series. Other wrong planchet errors typically sell for multiples of what this error would sell for. As always purchase the best example you can find, looking at mint red and detracting marks in particular. And make sure there’s a visible date, having a coin whose origins are obvious is always going to be an easier coin to sell when it comes time to divest yourself of it.