While most coins in circulation appear to be uniform and free from errors and blemishes, some occasionally emerge from the mint with misspellings, off-center strikes, unintentional indentions, and other mistakes. Coins that are struck using a different metal alloy than the originally intended one are known as off-metal coins. Here’s a look at how off-metal coins get made and why they’re so special to coin collectors.
Unintentional Off-Metal Coins
Off-metal coins are often, but not always, the result of a mistake at the mint. For example, if blanks made of one metal get accidentally mixed up with blanks of another metal in a hopper, a certain number of off-metal coins will be struck along with a larger amount of coins made of the correct metal. A famous case is the 1943 Bronze Cent, which was supposed to be made of zinc-coated steel. A few leftover bronze blanks made their way into a hopper filled with steel planchets, and a small line of rare and valuable off-metal coins was born.
Intentional Off-Metal Coins
Off-metal coins are sometimes created intentionally, and the results are often just as unique and valuable to collectors. Some are produced during experiments with new alloys as the mint prepares to issue a new coinage. Other off-metal coins are made specifically to be sold to rare coin collectors. The only way to know for sure whether an off-metal coin has been produced intentionally or unintentionally is to know the history behind each specific model.
Value to Collectors
First and foremost, off-metal coins are especially prized by collectors because they’re strange, historically interesting, and often rare. Some off-metal coins are also extremely valuable and hard to come by. For example, only about 40 of the above mentioned 1943 Bronze Cent were made, and these coins can be worth between $45,000 and $1.7 million, depending on the quality and minting location. Because of their rarity and value, 1943 Lincoln cents are frequently counterfeited. If you believe that you have an authentic 1943 Lincoln penny, we recommend that you send it to a third-party grading service to be certified, such as NGC or PCGS.
At Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, we buy and sell a wide variety of coins, including rare coins such as off-metal coins. Request an appointment to assess the value of your collection today by calling 404-236-9744.