Generally speaking, Royal Canadian Mint coins are intended to be uniform in size, shape, and appearance. In most cases, that is the end result of the minting process. However, occasionally something goes wrong during the production of coins. Sometimes one shows up that is different from the rest. In some cases, these error coins are not discovered right away and enter circulation with the rest of their mintage.
You might think that these coins would be worthless, but in fact, the opposite is true. Because error coins are unique, they are more collectable. Minting errors therefore actually increase a coin’s value, sometimes significantly. However, a coin that is not standard in shape or appearance isn’t necessarily an error coin. Sometimes damage occurs after a coin has been in circulation and therefore adds no additional value.
Minting errors are classified into several broad categories.
The die is the machine tool meant to shape the coin into its intended appearance. The planchet, or raw material used to make coins, is stamped between two different dies, each leaving behind an imprint of its image on the exposed side of the planchet. If there is a problem with the die itself, it will be reproduced on all the coins stamped with it.
Sometimes die errors result from damage to the tool sustained during the process of minting. For example, a cud is an error on the rim of the coin that results from a die edge break. On the other hand, sometimes there is a problem with the production of the die itself that causes the error.
Occasionally there is nothing wrong with the dies themselves but there is an error in how they were used. For example, a mule is a coin made with two dies that were not meant to be used together. A rotated die produces obverse and reverse images at odd angles to one another.
A striking error is a problem with the actual process of producing the coins. For example, if the planchet is off-centre between the dies, the image won’t be perfectly aligned. Sometimes the dies strike more than once, resulting in a blurry or double image. A brockage occurs when one coin is struck on top of the other, while a die cap occurs when a coin gets stuck to a die and remains there through the striking of several other coins. This extends the edges of the coin up over the sides of the die so it resembles a bottle cap.
Sometimes there is a problem with the material used to make the coins. For example, the Royal Canadian Mint makes coins for other countries around the world. Sometimes planchets intended for other countries are mistakenly struck with Canadian coin dies.
Planchets are made by feeding sheets of metal into a press that punches out the small blank disks. An error during this process can lead to a clipped planchet, or one that has a portion missing.
A really bizarre form of planchet error occurs when coins are mistakenly struck on ballcones. These are burnishing beads in a distinctive shape made of stainless steel and used for polishing planchets before striking. If some of these ballcones get mixed up with the planchets, they can actually get struck between two dies, lose their shape, and take on the appearance of coins.
Valuation of Errors
While error coins usually have some value, it can be difficult to determine. The worth depends on how rare the error is. A ragged edge may increase the value of a 2004 Remembrance Day quarter to $30, while a coin struck on a ballcone may be worth up to $800 and a brokerage of a discontinued Canadian penny may be worth over $1,000.
Error coins may be in circulation for a long time before someone realizes their value. Contact us if you have any questions about possible minting errors on a coin you have or to purchase other unique collectable Canadian coins from Colonial Acres.