NGC Grades Dramatic Error 1986 Silver Eagle

Posted on 8/28/2015

A rare and prominent mint error was identified on a 1986 Silver Eagle that was found in a Mint-sealed box.

NGC graders recently discovered a rare struck through mint error on a 1986 Silver Eagle. The coin was found in a Mint-sealed “monster box” of 500 coins.

1986 Silver Eagle NGC MS 68, obverse with mint error (left) and reverse (right)
Click images to enlarge.

1986 was the first year of the Silver Eagle series, and as a result, the US Mint had a bit of a learning curve. These first year Silver Eagles often come in a variety of different finishes ranging from matte to fully Prooflike. The different appearances were created because of the varied techniques used to prepare the dies, including polishing and sanding, both of which can leave small bits of material on the dies.

When this material is struck into a planchet it leaves an imprint on the coin’s surface, which is called a “struck through” mint error. Coins can be “struck through” dust, fiber, grease or other materials.

Minor struck through errors involving small bits of fiber or paper are relatively common and the shiny specks that the material leaves on the surface of a coin are often mistaken by collectors for abrasions. It is extremely rare, however, to see a struck through error of the magnitude observed on this particular 1986 Silver Eagle. Unfortunately, the foreign material that caused this strike through did not make it into the US Mint Silver Eagle tube with the coin and therefore it cannot be positively identified. That being said, it's likely that this coin was struck through one of the types of die prep materials the Mint used at the time, a 3M sanding disc.

As you can see from the photos, the coin suffers from an extreme lack of detail over the entire obverse. The date is barely legible, and the letters of LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST are also not well defined. The reverse on the other hand, shows no evidence of the strike through error from the obverse.

1986 Silver Eagle, obverse with mint error (left) and reverse (right)
Click images to enlarge.

This find is particularly exciting because the coin came from a US Mint “monster box” that has been sealed for nearly 30 years. It goes to show that there are still plenty of interesting coins that await discovery!

NGC attributes major mint errors under its Mint Error service tier for an additional fee of $15 per coin. For more information, visit

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