Altered Washington Dollars Surface

Posted on 3/22/2007

Presidential Dollars are filed to resemble widely publicized Missing Edge Lettering examples

Less than a month after their official release, Presidential $1 Coins with altered edges are being submitted to NGC for certification. Considerable attention has been focused on Presidential $1 Coins with edge lettering errors. The edge lettering is applied to these coins after they are struck in a process similar to the upsetting mill that raises rims during planchet preparation. As such, the edge lettering orientation will vary depending on how the coin falls into machine that impresses the letters, and its positioning and orientation on the coins are random. Nonetheless, coins are being offered and sold in the marketplace as mint errors in cases where the edge lettering is “upside down” in relationship to the obverse. This is not an error as the lettering orientation is arbitrary to the obverse and reverse of the coin. NGC does not describe the orientation of the edge lettering on its label or during the certification process. A few un-struck type two planchets with edge lettering have also shown up in the market place and these do appear to be legitimate Mint errors. There are also a number of Washington dollars being found that do not have any edge lettering. Some of these are legitimate errors, but we are now seeing pieces that have altered to resemble the plain edge error. The alteration process is rather simple and consists of filing down the edge to remove the lettering. Since the edge lettering is incuse, considerable filing is needed to remove enough metal to erase traces of any of the letters. The alterations we have seen thus far are not deceptive upon close examination of the coin and measurement of the weight and diameter. The genuine lettered edge Washington Dollars we tested ranged from 26.41 mm to 26.48 mm in diameter and have a weight ranging from 7.92 g to 7.99 g. A genuine Washington dollar with missing edge lettering fell with in this range at 26.46 mm in diameter and 7.98 g. The altered specimen shows a clear loss of diameter and weight through the removal of metal in the process of filing the letters of the edge. An altered specimen weighed 7.89 g with a diameter of 26.21 mm.
Specimen Comparison Diameter Weight
ALTERED: EDGE LETTERING REMOVED 26.21 mm 7.89 g
GENUINE: NO EDGE LETTERING 26.46 mm 7.98 g
GENUINE: RANGE OF TESTED EDGE LETTERED SPECIMENS 26.41 mm to 26.48 mm 7.92 g to 7.99 g
Detail Examination: Photo 1: This is a genuine lettered edge Washington dollar with the smooth edge and fine vertical lines created when the coin was ejected from the collar after being struck. Photo 2: This is a genuine Washington dollar with the edge lettering missing. The surfaces are original and unaltered and also show the fine vertical ejection marks. . Photo 3: This is the altered Washington dollar with the edge filed down sufficiently to give the appearance of a piece that did not receive its lettered edge impression. Note the fine horizontal file marks, the rounded edge and the lack of vertical ejection marks. . Photo 4: (File: WASHINGTON $ ALT EDGE 1) A closer view reveals the extent of the horizontal file marks and the lack of vertical ejection marks on the edge.

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