The Monroe Presidential Dollar isn't due to hit circulation until February 14, but banks have been able to order the coins from the Fed since the beginning of February. It will be interesting to see how many of these amazing "wrong planchet errors" actually surface, and in what parts of the country they are found. Since we know they're from the Philadelphia Mint, we're most likely looking at locations east of the Mississippi River, generally speaking. The Monroe wrong planchet error coins will be silvery in color, rather than the golden color of normal Presidential Dollars, since they were struck on blanks reportedly meant for Oklahoma State Quarters (according to the Coin World report.)
The Coin World article which broke this story appears on the cover of the February 18 issue (mailed on Feb. 4.) It states that Coin World sources say the problem happened when the dies on a given production line were changed from Oklahoma Quarters to Monroe Dollars, and that someone forgot to change the planchet type being used. This doesn't ring true to me because any time the dies are changed over from one coin type to another, die adjustments must be made, which entails the striking of test specimens to ensure that the dies are the proper space apart and aligned correctly. These test specimens are examined and then discarded. I just don't see how a Mint worker could overlook the wrong planchet type being in the coin press during this process!
It seems much more plausible that someone dumped the wrong planchet type onto an already-working Presidential Dollar press run. This would explain not only how the Mint workers overlooked the planchet error in the die setting stage, but also how the wrongly-struck coins were overlooked at the later stages of Mint processing (edge lettering, counting and bagging.) The misstruck coins would then have been mixed in with a quantity of normally-struck Dollars. We will have a better idea of the truth of this if and when any of the errors emerge on the market. If the die spacing was set to strike Quarters, the error coins will be struck in better detail than if the dies were set spaced farther apart for the larger, heavier Dollar planchets and then struck on the smaller Quarter planchets. Of course, this sort of speculation really doesn't matter to anybody but the error coin geeks.
The U.S. Mint has issued a statement about this remarkable error:
In mid-January, the United States Mint's coin-wrapping contractor alerted the agency when it found some irregular James Monroe Presidential $1 Coins. The coins in question were immediately returned to the United States Mint. The United States Mint has performed an internal inquiry and presently has no evidence to indicate that any irregular James Monroe Presidential $1 Coins have been sent to the Nation's banks. The United States Mint expects to make an estimated 103 million James Monroe Presidential $1 Coins.
So, what does this statement really say?
(1) The U.S. Mint is making 103,000,000 of these coins. So what if 0.0004% of them aren't perfect.
(2) We really don't know how many Monroe error coins will turn up in circulation since an "internal inquiry" isn't the place to look if you want to see how many the external contractor, CoinWrap Inc., might have missed.
(3) What kind of error coin was that again? (The Mint statement doesn't even confirm the error type!)
Already the chat boards and forums are a beehive of speculation about the reason for and/or true cause of this latest Presidential Dollar debacle. Many folks are of the opinion that these error coins are just a ploy by the Mint to increase awareness of the Presidential Dollars (or Statehood Quarters.)
What do you think about this latest Presidential Dollar error? Share your thoughts via the "comments" link below.