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Washington Dollar Plain Edge Coins - FAQs

By March 3, 2007

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Stacks and stacks of plain edge Washington Dollars found in Tallahassee, FL.There are a lot of incorrect rumors going around about the plain edge George Washington Presidential Dollars. These are the new golden dollars with no lettering on the edge, also called "missing edge lettering" and "Godless dollars" (because IN GOD WE TRUST is among the missing inscriptions.) The hobby collectively seems to be settling on the term "plain edge" and so that is the term I will use for now.

In addition to rumors, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about what the numbers on the boxes the dollars are shipped in mean, where the coins were rolled, and other details. I did some research, and my findings are below.

Is it true the coins are being recalled by the Mint (or the Fed, or banks, etc.)?
No, the Director of Public Relations for the United States Mint has said that there will be no attempt to recall the coins. The Mint is investigating how the error occurred and hopes to solve the problem before further mintages of Presidential Dollars.

Are plain edge Presidential Dollars still being found in Florida?
Yes. I am still getting reports as of this morning. Looking at the map, these reports are coming from rural and out-of-the-way banks. I also had a report Thursday of plain edge coins found in Indiana, which adds a new state to the list, but the reporting person hasn't yet responded about which Mint his coins are from.

Were all of the coins rolled by the N. F. String & Son Company in Pennsylvania?
No. None of them were! N. F. String only makes the wrappers, which they sell to the company who actually does the coin rolling for the Fed.

Who rolled the coins, then? And how does the process work?
The coins are rolled by a company called Coinwrap, Inc. They roll the coins for the Federal Reserve Banks, or "Fed," which pick them up and store them until banks order them. Typically, banks with multiple branches have a central bank that order the coins from their regional Fed. The branches then order the coinage they need from their own central bank facility. The coins are all transported around, of course, by armored car services.

What do the numbers on the $1,000 (40 rolls) boxes mean? The CWI# is the lot number, right?
Wrong. There is no such thing as a "lot number" on these boxes. They are stamped with three pieces of information. (a) The CWI#, (b) the date they were rolled, and (c) an inspector code indicating who inspected the box to make sure all the rolls were wrapped properly and the count was correct. The CWI# stands for the Coinwrap, Inc. location that wrapped the coins. The CWI location number that rolled the plain edge Washington coins found in and around the Tallahassee area is 103. Therefore, the CWI#103 is NOT a lot number, but simply a location number that appears on every single box of coins, of any type, Presidential or otherwise, that leaves that facility.

Why did nearly all of the Philadelphia plain edge dollars end up at one Coinwrap location?
According to top-notch error coin expert and leading error coin dealer Fred Weinberg, the Sacagawea and Presidential Dollars leave the U.S. Mint in huge containers called "ballistic bags," which hold 140,000 dollars in each bag. According to a Coinwrap employee (who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to reveal confidential company information) two of these ballistic bags of dollars are generally allocated to each coin-wrapping station. Therefore, it would seem that one or more of these ballistic bags was somehow filled, totally or partially, with unfinished coins at the Mint. (The edge lettering process is the final step before the Mint fills the ballistic bags for shipment out for individual wrapping.) Some experts believe that a batch of coins simply missed the edge lettering station altogether, but I am still holding to my theory that the Philadelphia plain edge coins were caused by some kind of mis-alignment of the edge lettering segment (as this machine is properly called, according to Eric von Klinger at Coin World magazine.) In my theory, due to mis-alignment of the edge lettering machinery, some of the coins missed the edge lettering segment die altogether, while others got their edges literally sheared off by something in the process, leaving them without edge lettering. I might or might not be correct, remember, this is just my theory.

If I want to buy unopened rolls on eBay to try to find my own plain edge dollars, and this CWI# isn't a lot number that might contain the error coins, is there any way to increase my chances?
If you see auctions for rolls that are from the correct Coinwrap, Inc. location, you might improve your chances by buying coins that were rolled at this facility on the same date, but there is a lot of fraud in the rolled coins selling business. It isn't very hard to unwrap these N.F. String wrappers, check the coins, replace the plain edges with normal coins, and roll them back up again. One coin dealer actually told me he'd been doing this for years! If you really want one of these coins, (or ten of them) why not just buy them outright on eBay? The price has dropped to around $50 to $80 per coin, so if you're going to pay $50 plus for a roll hoping to find one, why not spend the same amount of money for a guaranteed plain edge?

Are you recommending that I buy these coins on eBay?
Absolutely not! I very rarely recommend that people buy coins from any source other than reputable and honest coin dealers who are PNG members. If there are no PNG dealers in your area (although most have Web sites now and sell through the mail) you can buy from an ANA dealer. The reason you want to use dealers affiliated with these organizations is that you have some recourse if they sell you fake or mis-graded material (they would lose their valuable affiliations!)

Are fake plain edge Washington Dollars being sold on eBay?
Yes. I will have more information about how to authenticate a genuine plain edge dollar as soon as I have a few more study coins in my hands and can make confident statements in this regard. Please don't buy your coins on eBay; find a reputable PNG dealer. It's worth the extra money they charge to know you won't be ripped off.

Who gets credit for the "discovery coin," (in other words, who found the first plain edge coin and made it publicly known?)
It is abundantly clear that a man who goes by the moniker "Chicago Ron" was the first to discover and appreciate this plain edge error. Not only did he list the first auction (which closed for $612) Feb. 15th, (the release date of the Presidential Dollar,) he is the anonymous collector referred to on the front page of the current issue of the Numismatic News, where coin dealer Bob Feiler tells about the person in Arizona who says a friend of his had found a plain edge Presidential dollar. I will post a Collector Profile of this fascinating individual in the next couple of weeks. In the mean time, I find it beautifully ironic that the discovery coin comes from the Denver Mint, while the overwhelming vast majority of the plain edge errors come from Philly.

Is there any way to tell the difference between Denver plain edge GW dollars, and Philadelphia ones?
I don't know yet. Denver examples are extremely rare compared to Philly examples, and until I can study a few specimens from both mints, I can't say for sure. However, I am currently recommending that people who have found plain edge Washington dollars in Denver rolls hold onto them until this issue has been decided, because if we can tell the difference, Denver coins will be worth a lot more money.

I would like to thank Tom DeLorey of Harlan J. Berk, Ltd. for the many hours of his time spent teaching me about the errors on these Presidential coins, and coin errors in general. Fred Weinberg, widely acknowledged as the leading dealer and an important expert in mechanical type coin errors (as opposed to die variety "errors,") was very generous with his time and expertise in helping me understand the processes the Mint uses and how mechanical errors happen. Eric von Klinger, of Coin World magazine, has also been very generous with his time, knowledge, and experience while researching this error.

Photo of the stacks and stacks of plain edge Washington Presidential Dollars courtesy of a Tallahassee resident who wishes to remain anonymous. All photo rights reserved.

Comments

March 4, 2007 at 12:47 am
(1) Space Dog says:

wow… that photo of stacks and stacks of no edge dollars really brings it home… what’s so wierd about all of this is that even if there are thousands and thousands of these it is still a truly spectaular error… never to have been made in my knowledge… too bad there are so many… but i have a few and love them just for that reason alone. Only history will tell the final story of this odd event… happy collecting.

March 5, 2007 at 10:15 am
(2) Medicarnp says:

Speaking as someone who’s selling some of the coins on E-Bay… I reserve my right to sell these coins to the public even though I’m not a “PNG Member”. Forgive me, but I rather sell the coins I’ve got for a decent price, then to only get 1/2 that from my local dealer (who will resell them for his own profit later)…. Just cutting out the middleman… BTW, there are some coins that also have Die Fatigue and other errors along with the smooth edge!!

Good Luck and Happy Bidding…

March 5, 2007 at 5:31 pm
(3) Suzanne says:

Is it considered an error if theletteringon the edges of the coins is upside down when looking at Washington’s head???

March 5, 2007 at 5:50 pm
(4) Susan Headley says:

Suzanne,

The application of the edge lettering on GW dollars meant for circulation is completely random. It can be heads up or tails up, and begin and end anywhere around the edge in relation to Washington’s head. You can learn more about these facts on this page regarding Washington Dollar edge lettering.

March 6, 2007 at 1:51 pm
(5) Kirk says:

Susan,

Just personal note to thank you so much for all the efforts and time you have spent on this issue. It has been very helpful in allowing me and I am sure many others, to understand the “error” world of coin collecting.

Is there any figures being tossed around as to quantity of blank edge dollars that were released and also, is PCGS accepting these for error classification/certification?

Also, for comparison, is there figures on the quantity of the Wisc. leaf variations that may have been “slabbed” by the various companies?

March 7, 2007 at 1:33 am
(6) Tony P says:

Just found this article….and just to let you know in Savannah Ga. I found 17 of the plain edge $1 Washingtons in 4 rolls that were purchased this week. I planned on opening up and leaving for tips when I noticed the missing lettering….T

March 7, 2007 at 5:53 pm
(7) RSRussell says:

It’s incredible the arrogance of this writer who makes the erroneous assumption and infers that all ebayers are crooks and that all PNG and ANA members are honest. Neither is true.

March 8, 2007 at 5:45 pm
(8) Susan Headley says:

Mr. (or Ms.) Russell,

Thank you for visiting my site and sharing your opinion. My lack of faith in eBay sellers over certified dealers is well-founded on 30+ years of experience collecting and buying coins, (the last 9 of which includes eBay,) plus the reports of hundreds of others who have asked for my intervention in disputes with uncertified dealers over the years. eBay is unwilling to adequately police its marketplace against fraud because it provides a negative financial incentive for them to do so (they would lose the income from the less-than-ethical sellers.)

95% of my site visitors are novice collectors, or non-collectors, who have come across coins they need to learn more about, or who are just starting out in this hobby. eBay can be a treacherous marketplace for an inexperienced coin buyer, and eBay dealers are not inclined to hold the novices’ hand and help them learn about the hobby the way, say, a PNG dealer would (who often have a whole staff of people paid to do this one thing.)

All things considered, especially the strongly noviciate trend of my audience, I don’t feel comfortable giving eBay the same high level of positive endorsement that I give PNG dealers.

Susan Headley
About.com Coins Guide

March 8, 2007 at 5:51 pm
(9) Tony says:

I think I’ve been had.. I won a bid for 1 roll of un circulated un opened GW dollars for $180.00 i should have known better that to trust an auction with all private bidders. How do i know that the seller didn’t just create a private account and up the bids himself. Anyway after the auction was over I say a bunch of auctions pop up advertising “BUY IT NOW” for $29.00

March 8, 2007 at 9:20 pm
(10) Josh says:

if the mint location stamp is normally found on the edge, how can you prove where the coin was minted?

March 9, 2007 at 12:56 am
(11) Loren Whitney says:

Is the Coin Wrap Inc. Location #103 really in Florida. Is that accurate? Their headquarters is in Harrisburg, PA

http://www.coinwrap.com

March 9, 2007 at 6:51 pm
(12) bitguru says:

I agree that the image is striking, though at the display size it’s hard to tell that they actually have smooth edges.

I wish I knew about these when I reviewed the coin on my blog.

March 10, 2007 at 12:22 am
(13) bitguru says:

I guess it’s fortuitous that the year can be completely determined from the obverse side. (Will that be true for the Madison coin?)

I was struck when looking at your image gallery by how much worse the business strikes look than the artist renderings. Do you have any comment on that?

I somehow didn’t notice how poor the presidential portraits looked at first, but I was forced to concur when someone’s blog entry pointed it out. I can’t find that blog entry now, which is a shame because it was accurate and humorous without using salty language, but there are others.

March 10, 2007 at 1:47 pm
(14) Charles McKinley says:

Thank you for the great info.

I have 2 plain edge dollars which I picked up in Jacksonville Florida at .
I was disappointed in the quality of the incursions in general.
The 2 plain edge look unfinished. Do they coat the edges as part of the incursion process?

March 11, 2007 at 4:52 pm
(15) J C says:

The comment for the eBay question is stupid, why buy a coin for 50-80 bucks when u can buy 50-80 coins for 50 bucks hoping for a chance to get an error. If you dont get any its not like u waste ur money, u can just get a dollar back for each one,,,, DUH!

March 12, 2007 at 5:49 pm
(16) Chad says:

Geez! I just want one of these errored coins for my collection!!! I don’t want 1000 of them so I can charge crazy prices on ebay. I don’t want to make a quick buck…but I sure as heck don’t wanna pay $50 or more for one. How do I find one of these suckers???

March 13, 2007 at 7:43 pm
(17) DaveZ says:

I have found, after seeing 3 auctions by one other person (who says he saw ONE auction before that) one Washington dollar with a EDGE PRINTING SHIFT. the “. 2000 P” is shifted one character to the right. I’ve started contact with a local dealer so I can get it, and 2 TWIN “smooth edge” dollars looked at and graded NCG if appropriate. These have IDENTICAL S-incursions. thanks.

March 13, 2007 at 8:08 pm
(18) DaveZ says:

One other comment..

No recall?

It’s gotta be a bit disturbing to the mint that these washington versions will now be so much easier to counterfeit. Its easier than faking a quarter, because you don’t even have to make the ribs (the letters in the case of the Washington dollar) around the edge.

March 14, 2007 at 11:28 am
(19) DaveZ says:

A local coin services guy has told me that NCG won’t grade my smooth-edge if it has a blob in the top of the S like it does, because it will be called “flawwed”. True?

The other issue is that he says they won’t look at my shift-letter coin because they have not yet seen these talked about or traded.. so how does one take the FIRST of an error and get it recognized? tough rules!

March 15, 2007 at 12:30 pm
(20) Nachos4 says:

I have sold 50 of these on Ebay. And I am a completely honest seller. So forget the Ebay comment. I probably am an idiot and sold too low. I live in Southeast Georgia and am served by the same Treasury distribution center (Jacksonville) as many of the other hot spots in Florida. I found many smooth edges as recently as 3/13. In my opinoin, when you buy the rolls and open them, you either get none or you get a bunch (6, 8, 10, as many as 15 per roll). There are still a bunch of small town banks in Southeast Georgia that have the original boxes of coins available. You can still get boxes of $1000. One of my friend got $300 in coins on 3/13 and 70 of them were smooth edge.

March 15, 2007 at 3:47 pm
(21) Roberta T. says:

I’m surprised the Treasury isn’t recalling these slugs . IMHO whenever a planchet fails to complete the minting process … it is , and always will be , a junk piece of scrap metal . It isn’t a variety , it isn’t a mint error , it isn’t a coin , and it isn’t money . The circumstances of this “discovery” , and of the newer “finding” of coin(s) with no faces , smacks of a deliberate act of tampering , and foisting a fraud upon the public . Complete coins are worth a dollar , incomplete coins are junk !!!

March 19, 2007 at 10:35 am
(22) Wanda says:

I think it is stupid to put In God We Trust on the side anyway. It should be on top, just like on the older coins.

March 27, 2007 at 10:18 am
(23) Phil says:

Does anyone know if the error coins come from a particular packing date(s) of CWI#103 boxes? If so, what is the date(s)?

Thanks

April 1, 2007 at 6:21 pm
(24) Ray says:

I have several coins which have some shift of the date/mint on the rim/edge. I was told by a “self-professed” professional collector that these are not errors. However, they do not align with other coins in just a “portion” of the lettering on the rim or edge — one of the “dots” and the date/mint … anyone have any additional information? I can’t find much and they are not listed as “no errors” on the consumer protection portion of the U.S. Mint website. Thanks …. rbc@juno.com

April 2, 2007 at 1:44 am
(25) Susan Headley says:

Ray,

When you say your coins have a shift of the lettering, so you mean that they are not all in the same position relative to George Washington’s head? If so, that’s normal. The edge lettering can begin and end anywhere on the edge for circulation coins.

However, if you mean that the letter positions are shifted when you stack all the coins up and align them, sort of like the dials on a safe, if the letters, numbers and dots don’t all match up, THAT is an error or perhaps a die variety. I am very interested in hearing more about misaligned lettering errors.

If you (or anybody else reading this) has the type of error where your edge inscriptions don’t line up when you stack the coins and turn them all to match up the 2006 D [and so on], I would like to know if the ones that are “off” are all off by different amounts, or are they all “off” the same way? (If they’re all off by the same way, it could mean there are edge letter die varieties!)

Susan Headley
About.com Guide to Coins

April 2, 2007 at 2:06 am
(26) Ray says:

Susan — No, they are not relative to GW’s head; they do not lined up with other coins when stacked as you describe like the numbered dials or wheels. If you line up the “lettering” (E PLURIBUS UNUM or IN GOD WE TRUST) there is a shift of one of the “dots” and the date/mint along a horizontal plane. Similarly, if you line up the date/mint, there is a different in the “lettering” beginning/ending place compared with other of the coins. I’ve found three of these among over 3,000 coins I examined. I also found sixteen out of those 3,000 coins with a shift of just the date/mint verically either up or down where the top/bottom portion is at the rim of the coin but the “lettering” is in the center of the coin’s edge/rim (third side as someone told me it’s being called). I found almost fifty plain or blank rim/edge coins among these same 3,000. I’m not a collector nor an expert — I just heard about the blank edge and had an opportunity to grab 125 unopened rolls. I apologize if I’m not using the correct terminology. In all of these “shifts,” they are not consistent — some line up with another coin or two but others do not. These “shift” coins appear far less frequently than the blank/smooth rim/edge coins. I remain curious to see what information anyone has to offer about these. Thanks to all for your help — and for understanding that I’m a real “rookie” at this. RAY

April 2, 2007 at 3:32 am
(27) Susan Headley says:

Ray,

Thank you for your great explanation! You explained it very well, and you’re right, the edge is sometimes called the “third side of a coin!”

I believe the reason why your letters don’t all line up is that the coins are either “slipping” or “skipping” through the edge lettering segment of the lettering machine (the segment is the part with the die that prints the lettering.) If you look on the edges of the affected coins, about 180 degrees across from where the coin “skipped,” you might see a ding or V shaped cut. Sometimes these seem minor, but when the impeller wheel is shooting these coins through the die at the rate of 1,000 coins per MINUTE, any loss of contact between the coin’s edge and the impeller will show up on the edge as a skipped space or two (or more,) throwing the whole sequence out of whack.

I am curious about your plain edge dollars. Congratulations on finding them, btw! =) Are they Denver or Philadelphia rolls? Did you just buy them very recently? (In other words, are these plain edge coins still being found at banks today?) Do you mind sharing what city and state you’re in, so I can add you to my spreadsheet where I am tracking these errors?

Thanks!
Susan Headley

April 12, 2007 at 11:25 am
(28) Kathy says:

I have a plain edged coin, Denver Mint, year 2000, with Sacagawea and baby on the front. Is it worth anything? I got it in change from a stamp machine at an Arvada, CO Post office. Thanks for your help.

April 12, 2007 at 12:57 pm
(29) Susan Headley says:

Kathy,

The plain edge on the Sacagawea Dollar is normal. Only the Presidential Dollars are getting the edge lettering right now.

However, if you, or anybody else, is the first to discover a Sacagawea Dollar WITH edge lettering, there is a $10,000 reward being offered by PCGS, so be sure to let me know if you find one!

Susan Headley
About.com Coins Guide

August 27, 2007 at 10:59 am
(30) Norma Rankin says:

What happens to the IN GOD WE TRUST in 20 or 30 years of constant use? Look at some of your old nickels or quarters and see what the edges look like? They are worn off smooth. I say, put IN GOD WE TRUST back on the face of the coin. Too bad if the designer has to make the print a bit smaller.

September 5, 2007 at 9:33 am
(31) Pat says:

I find it is just like our government to spend tax dollars to develop a coin without the In God We Trust inscription to satisfy a minority group. I understand their right to protest but I don’t see a coin paying tribute to my grandson and others who have died in order to give them this right. To add insult to injury you have totally botched this by producing ‘plain edge coins’. It doesn’t matter to me if someone sells them on eBay or throws them from the top of a building. These coins are a waste of money and time as no one really ever uses them. Stop wasting time and money and find something productive to do!

October 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm
(32) Glenn says:

So we have misalignment due to coin slippage during production and coins that have no side inscription at all. Where the heck was this Quality Control guy you mentioned earlier? If Coinwrap has QC at all, they assuredly check the completeness of the coin, not just wrapping and roll count.

September 26, 2010 at 12:55 pm
(33) Mike O says:

I have a John Quincy Adams 2008 dollar missing the edge lettering, certified as a Mint error by PCGS. How do I determine the mint that made the error, and just how scarce are these coins??

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