The E-Sylum:  Volume 4, Number 30, July 22, 2001, Article 11


   Speaking of errors, Coin World reported this week that 
   a two-tailed U.S. quarter has been authenticated as 
   genuine.  Everything I've ever read about errors said this 
   was an impossibility, and just last week, in an emailed 
   response to a visitor to my web site, I stated flatly that any 
   such piece must be a manufactured fantasy, not a product 
   of the U.S. Mint. 

   On the COINS mailing list Tom DeLorey wrote: "The coin 
   has indeed been authenticated. The hub characteristics are 
   reportedly those of the earliest clad quarters, which places 
   it in the 1965-1974 ballpark. 

   During the so-called coin shortage of the mid-1960's, the 
   Mint pulled a lot of old coining equipment out of mothballs to 
   increase production. They even pulled an 1873 coin press out 
   of a museum to use. It is possible that some of this equipment 
   did not have standard modern die holders, and that it would 
   have been possible to place two obverse or two reverse dies 
   in one press. 
   Also, there were a lot of deliberately created errors made in 
   the San Francisco Assay Office in the 1970-1976 period, 
   that were snuck out of the Mint in the oil pans of fork lift 
   trucks.  See Appendix B of the 7th Edition of the Judd pattern 
   catalog for some of these deliberate errors.  Another one was 
   a 1970-S Proof quarter struck on a 1900 Barber quarter. I 
   am not aware that any two-tailed coins were made by the 
   same person who made the other errors, but it does seem 
   plausible that it could have been." 

   In a ripped-from-the-headlines E-Sylum exclusive, David 
   Lange of Numismatic Guaranty Corp, which certified the 
   coin, writes:  "When NGC's mint error specialist, Dave 
   Camire, showed me this coin raw,  I just glanced at it and 
   made a joke about it being another of the many magician's 
   pieces and other novelty coins we receive so frequently.  He 
   insisted I take a closer look, and that's when I realized the 
   damned thing looked real. Close inspection revealed no sign 
   of a seam, and both the coin's weight and ring were on the 
   money. Dave and I agreed that it is a genuine mint product. 

   Both reverse dies were taken from the first clad hub that was 
   used as late as 1974, but there are subtle indications that the 
   coin was made early in the clad series. The extent and manner 
   of die erosion is characteristic of quarters dated 1965-66 and 
   seen only rarely on later dates. 

   Dave Camire asked me if this could have been made at the 
   San Francisco Mint, since the other coins in the collection 
   that were identifiable by mint were all SF pieces.  SF ceased 
   coining at the end of March 1955.  Due to the nationwide coin 
   shortage of the early-mid 1960s, it was later reactivated. SF 
   started producing only planchets at first, shipping these to the 
   Denver Mint beginning in September of 1964.  SF began 
   striking dimes and quarters about a year later. It's likely that 
   both silver and clad pieces were made there simultaneously for 
   a short time. 

   Normally, the die shanks were machined in such a way that 
   they could not be mounted in the wrong position or paired to 
   make a two-headed or two-tailed coin.  My speculation is 
   that the urgency of the coin shortage prompted some short 
   cutting, among which was a neglect to build proper safeguards 
   into the die shanks.  So, while this dual-reverse quarter was 
   evidently possible from a technical standpoint, I believe that 
   the pairing of two, well-used reverse dies may have been 
   done intentionally to create an oddity.  Had the pairing 
   occurred by accident and resulted in mass production, there 
   would almost certainly more examples already known to the 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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