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But Can You See It?
September 13, 2007

If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, did it really happen?

You might ask a similar question about the current wave of error Presidential dollar coins and error coins in general.

However provable an error might be as far as its basic existence, if you cannot see it easily with the naked eye, as far as the market is concerned, it doesn't exist, or at best is a flash in the pan that should be avoided unless you happen to like spending hard earned money for certain coins' 15 minutes of fame.

A doubled-die error has been reported for the Jefferson dollar. Numismatic News error authority Ken Potter has written a story. Doubled dies often reside on the concierge floor of the error hobby hotel. This one doesn't look like it will make it to that level of importance. It is hard to see. It is hard to figure out what precisely has been doubled.

When someone looks at a 1955 doubled-die cent, you immediately see the doubling and you immediately comprehend what part of the original design was duplicated. Other nondoubling errors need to meet the same visual test. When you look at a plain edge Presidential dollar you know the date, mintmark and mottoes are missing. These errors stand the test of time. They do so in part because you can see them easily.

For the new doubled-die Jefferson dollar, obvious it isn't. It is important at this time because it is the first reported Jefferson dollar error. I am sure there will be others. Perhaps we will get a plain edge despite Mint efforts to improve its quality control. We'll see.

Keep looking for errors, but not every one is going to make the cut and become a mainstream collectible.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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