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02 Jun 2022

Error? Blanks and Planchets

Young Numismatists Exchange | user_30405

Error?

Blanks and Planchets

Is a certain coin an error or variety? This question has been battled by numismatic experts for decades. The United States Mint receives wrapped coils of metal, normally a mixture of copper and nickel. After being weighed for quality, the coils are rolled out and sent through a blanking press that punches blanks. Blanks are unstruck, thin cylinders of metal. The blanking press is where many errors can originate, such as clips, bowties, scrap, and wrong stock error coins. Blanks are punched slightly larger than a finished coin of the same denomination in anticipation of the upsetting mill where the blank is fed between two rollers that raise an edge on the blank, thus turning it from a blank into a planchet. Planchets are blanks that have a raised rim so that they can be stacked, and to help the retaining collar during striking. Some world mints apply edge lettering before striking. The difference between a blank and the slightly more common planchet is the rim. Coin blanks and planchets might be categorized as die varieties, mint errors, neither, or both.

A variety is a coin that shows slight differences from the “normal” coin of the same date and denomination; a variety should be able to be traced back to the die(s) from which it was struck. By definition blanks and planchets are unstruck, thus they can’t normally be identified by the pairs of dies they would be struck with. It is intriguing to see if something like a blank or planchet that has not been struck can be traced to a pair of dies it would have been struck with. On patterns, it is technically possible to find the date at which a blank or planchet was made and see what patterns of the same denomination were being struck during that day, but the likelihood of finding all that information from the U.S. Mint is nearly impossible.So while blanks and planchets are not varieties, looking into the hypothetical can produce some very fun and intriguing conclusions.

Generally blanks and planchets are considered errors. An error is a coin made defective from as a result of human or mechanical error during manufacturing. In order to be considered an error, the defective coin has to get out of the mint. A quick investigation shows that in some cases, blanks and planchets can’t be errors. Pattern blanks could produce one such exception. Sometimes when the mint is experimenting for a new metal composition or production technique, they produce blanks and planchets and purposely not strike them. Officially, the U.S. Mint hasn’t sold blanks, so blanks are errors. Even though they are intentionally produced, what qualifies them as errors is the fact that they unintentionally got out of the mint. However, planchets present a different story. The mint is selling zinc cent planchets in their 2019 Explore and Discover Set. The U.S. Mint also gives out a set including a zinc cent planchet to Boy Scouts who get their Coin Collecting Merit badges with the mints’s outreach program, and the ANA can provide the same sets to individuals, clubs, and shows who would like to host their own workshop. This means that zinc cent planchets should not be errors as they have been officially released from the mint and are not the cause of human or mechanical error during the minting process. Because this program is relatively recent, I would consider all regular issue, non-zinc cent planchets to be errors, except under unusual circumstances.

Numismatics is filled with nuances and oxymorons, such as the assumption that cent planchets are errors. Blanks and planchets aren’t varieties, although under unusual circumstances they could be tracked to the variety they likely would have been if struck. Blanks are errors and most pre-21st century planchets are errors as well. Regarding zinc cent planchets, I believe that more denominations of modern planchets will be released by the mint and thus modern planchets will not be considered errors in the near future.

Thanks for reading, and have a great summer break YN's!

Comments

It's Mokie

Level 6

Great effort, a fun read, but like Longstrider stated, a blank planchet is simply a coin that was never processed just an interesting piece of round metal. Not an error or variety.

Longstrider

Level 6

I was taught a blank or planchet is neither an error or a variety. Those are not yet coins. Well done and a fun read.

Mike

Level 7

Thanks for the distinction on these. Well done.

Rebelfire76

Level 4

This is some great background on the differences between errors and varieties. Did not know the mint actually sends out cent planchets. And the fact that an “error” can be defined as by the intention, (accidentally got out verses purposely given out from the mint) makes for a better understanding of numismatic vocabulary.

AC coin$

Level 6

Great blog , Interecting .

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