July 30, 2008

Unexplainable Errors Explained Part 1: 1918-S 50 Centavos Bronze

1918-S FIFTY CENTAVOS struck in bronze planchet

It was a year ago when I encountered a 1918 Twenty Centavos US-Philippine coin struck in brass which I found just lying in a dealers hoard of ordinary dated coins. The coin was in FINE condition but the details on the shield were enough for me to conclude that such was an error. I asked the dealer how much the coin was but to my surprised he told me that I could have it for free since it’s a counterfeit coin based on his opinion. He even compared it to the ordinary coin of the same date by putting both on top of the weighing scale and it did show the difference. The brass coin weighs more than its contemporary about .5 gram on the digital scale.

I never contested the dealer’s opinion since he would have changed his mind if I insinuated that that was really an error coin. The crucial thing about collecting error coins is the coin’s condition because there were so many forgers and counterfeiters that a slight variation in the coin may turned out as a clue for felony.

Though I was glad that I got the coin, proving that it was an error coin was an enigma. I tried convincing everybody that such was an error but I got no positive answers in return since there were neither reference nor material that would support my conclusion. Not until I found the 1918 San Francisco Mint 50 Centavos which is struck in bronze, that I finally solved the puzzle.

This is one of the most amazing error that I acquired recently, a 1918 US-Philippine 50 centavos struck in bronze planchet and in an uncirculated condition. The coin’s weight is more than a gram than normal and with solid details, it is easy to identify that the metal is harder than silver.

Since the minting of Philippine coins was moved to MANILA in 1920, possibilities that there were die trials made prior to that is now conclusive. Other varieties which were suspected before as counterfeits such as a 1919 San Franciso Mint LEAD 50 Centavos sold by Cookie Jar Collectibles a few years ago may now be re-studied and perhaps may be re-classified as authentic.

The Manila Mint is otherwise notorious for doing trial strikes since most of the Mint’s employees were not as expert as their American counterparts. Sometimes they made samples or made dry runs before proceeding full productions. Such topic will be tackled later but for now, I am happy to share with you the latest discovery in Philippine numismatic.

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