2007 George Washington Dollar Edge Lettering and Other Errors

Posted by David J. Camire on 3/1/2007

David Camire explores the numerous variations in the Presidential Dollar Coin series that have appeared in the news lately, and how it will affect NGC's grading.

First, some overview: The new Presidential Dollar Coins were officially released on February 15th of this year. They are being minted at both the Philadelphia and Denver mints. The planchets used to make the new dollar coins are of the same composition (a three-layer clad composition), weight (8.1 grams), diameter (26.5 mm), and thickness (2mm) as the Sacagawea "Golden" Dollar. Where the coins differ most significantly, apart from the obvious obverse and reverse design difference, is the edge. On the Presidential Dollar, some of the requisite legends have been moved to the edge of the coin (Photo 1a and 1b). The presidential coins are edge-lettered, with the date and mintmark (photo 1c), as well as the mottos E PLURIBUS UNUM, and IN GOD WE TRUST. The lettering is applied after the coins are struck in a separate process, and the edge lettering is attracting a lot of interest.

1a.) 2007 P George Washington Presidential $1 coin obverse showing edge lettering. All photos by David J. Camire 1b.) 2007 P George Washington Presidential $1 coin reverse showing edge lettering 1c.) Close-up image of edge lettering showing the date and mintmark

Struck coins are fed into an edge-lettering machine randomly, and thus the orientation of the edge lettering is also random. These coins can be found with the edge lettering that can be read either from looking at the edge holding the coin with the obverse facing up or reverse facing up (Photo 1d). This variation in obverse lettering is a necessary and intended part of the minting process, and, unlike coins struck with a lettered edge collar, there is no significance to the orientation and placement of the lettering.

1d.) Two 2007 P George Washington $1 coins showing opposite edge lettering orientation. The coin at left shows lettering which can be read with the obverse facing up, while the coin at left shows edge lettering which can be read with the obverse facing down.

What if the coins were to inadvertently bypass or miss the edge-lettering stage of the minting process? The resulting coins would simply have a plain edge, the same as a Sacagawea dollar (Photo 2a). This does pose an interesting problem. The coins are not only missing the mottos E PLURIBUS UNUM and IN GOD WE TRUST; they are also missing the date and mintmark. (Photo 2b) Washington dollar coins missing the edge lettering are being found in rolls minted at both the Denver and Philadelphia Mints.

2a.) A George Washington Presidential $1 coin missing edge lettering 2b.) Close-up of the edge of a George Washington Presidential $1 coin missing edge lettering

Aside from missing the edge lettering, other edge letter anomalies are being discovered, including partial and multiple edge lettering. For example, this pictured 2007 P Washington dollar is missing the words E PLURIBUS UNUM (Photo 3a). The coin apparently became partially jammed (note the two edge marks Photo 3b, 3c) before exiting the machine, resulting in only a partial design transfer. NGC will certify and attribute partial and fully missing edge lettering as well as multiple edge lettering. All coins will be encapsulated in the NGC state-of-the-art coin EdgeView Holder™ so that the edge error will be visible.

3a 3b 3c

NGC will also grade and authenticate other Presidential dollar errors such as blanks and planchets (both plain-edge and with edge lettering), die adjustment strikes, broadstrikes, off-centers, multiple strikes, coins missing clad layer(s), coins struck on wrong planchets, and major clashed dies, etc. NGC will not attribute minor errors such as die cracks (Photo 4c), die chips, minor struck throughs (Photo 4b), minor clashed dies, minor die damage (Photo 4a), starburst effects, die polishing, etc.

4c.) Small die cracks, as shown, are not considered mint errors on circulating coinage, and are not recognized on the certification label by NGC. 4b.) A coin with a small areas struck through grease, as shown, is not significant enough to be considered a mint error and is not noted on the holder by NGC. Recognized struck throughs are struck through foreign material and/or missing major design elements. 4a.) Minor die damage visible near Liberty's neck, as shown, is not significant enough to be considered a mint error and is not noted on the holder by NGC.