Edward R. writes: I am a young coin collector and I also have a large amount of knowledge about coins. But I was stumped when I found two 1986 pennies which had the spelling IIBERTY. Their condition is around an EF-40. Is there any record of this error? If so, would they have as much value if the error was not recorded?
I also have a 1954-s Nickel with a backward “C” in the middle of Monticello. It looks like there could have been some sort of rotation, but I seriously doubt it. It is possible that the coins could be counterfeit, but I do not know how to figure that out. It would be a great help if you had any knowledge or found any information about these three coins.
Your coin was probably struck from a worn die. When dies wear out the letters begin to appear less distinct and distorted. This can be caused not only by wear but by the periodic polishing that mint employees do to keep the dies smooth and free of debris. Late die state coins also show strong die erosion, especially near the rims. The lettering also appears less distinct toward the edge of the coin. Since all working dies are complete when transferred from the master hub, there is no chance of accidentally spelling LIBERTY, IIBERTY. If such an event got by all inspections, every die and therefore every coin would have this error.
Do coins from late die state or damaged dies ever bring a premium? Yes, the 1937-D 3-leg Buffalo nickel and the 1922 Plain cent are good examples. Both of these coins were victims of severe die polishing of worn dies.
Your backward “C” was created by a punch, probably so the nickel could be identified. For example, in the 70’s and later, restaurants and bars had quarters painted with red nail polish to “feed” the juke box. When the service person came to collect the money from the machine the quarters with nail polish were returned to the proprietor.