Claim: Some new Wisconsin quarters contain a printing error that makes them especially valuable.
Origins: In 1999 the U.S. Mint launched a program of issuing five new quarters a year, each commemorating a different U.S. state Each of the fifty designs is crafted to provide a symbolization of the individual state it represents, and the quarters introduced into the money supply in the order the states were admitted to the
Collecting fever ran high for the first few issues of these new coins, but as the years passed the demand for the annual offering of five new state’s quarters has dropped off. However, a 2005 event has served to spur interest in at least one of these coins, if not the entire series.
An aberration has been noted on some of the Wisconsin quarters struck at the Denver Mint: some of these coins sport an extra leaf on the ear of corn displayed on its flip side. (Wisconsin’s design depicts an agricultural theme featuring a cow’s head, a hunk of cheese, and an ear of corn.)
Among the 453 million Wisconsin quarters minted over a two-week period near the end of 2004, a few thousand bearing a cornstalk peculiarity have surfaced. On some of the variant coins, an extra leaf on the ear is turned up; on others, the leaf is noticeably fatter than its siblings and points downward.
While a benchmark value for these monetary units has yet to be established among collectors, prices paid so far have varied from approaching $100 to (in one isolated case) $1,499 by a Tucson dealer for a preeminently fine specimen. Keeping in mind the wide range of prices these coins have been vended for, in general one finds that individual Wisconsin anomalies are fetching somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 apiece for those reselling them, with three-coin sets of a regular Wisconsin quarter and one each of the two “error coins” bringing $1,100.
Therefore, while a decidedly pleasant and somewhat monetarily enriching experience, happening upon one of these unusual coins in your pocket change will not be a life-altering event of the “just won the lottery” magnitude. You are also unlikely to encounter one of these finds unless you live in Tucson, where it is estimated about 5,000 of them have turned up. (Another fifty have been found in San Antonio.)
As to how the extra-leafed coins came to bear images different from the official die the Wisconsin quarters were to be struck from, this altered artwork appears to have been a deliberate act on the part of an unknown employee of the U.S. Mint. Numismatic experts believe the additional leaves were not the result of misstrikes of the official die, but of strikes made with altered dies.
What prompted the alteration is as yet unexplained. One theory speculates a Mint employee intent upon making his fortune from the sale of these unusual coins was responsible, yet that hypothesis seems to fly in the face of how coins are handled subsequent to manufacture. After the coins are stamped, they are shipped under heavy guard from the Mint to contractors who put them into paper or plastic rolls before sending them to banks, so the one who struck them would have had little, if any, chance of knowing where the altered quarters were being sent. Another theory again assigns blame to an unknown Mint employee but removes the profit-seeking angle: it asserts the mystery engraver was a worker with a grudge. Or he was someone bored with his day who looked to liven things up. Or he just wanted to see if he could do it, with the “it” being either producing an altered MInt-quality die or sneaking defective quarters past the system.
Of this incident, the U.S. Mint Office of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. said in a press release: “The United States Mint is looking into the matter to determine possible causes in the manufacturing process.”
Barbara “cache assets” Mikkelson
Last updated: 16 May 2011
- Dorsett, Amy. “Odd Wisconsin Quarters Spark New Gold Rush.”
- San Antonio Express-News. 10 February 2005 (p. B1).
- Gores, Paul. “Two-Bit Mistake.”
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 8 February 2005 (p. A1).
- Hagenbraugh, Barbara. “Coin Collectors Flip, Rumors Fly After Quarters Sprout Extra Leaf.”
- USA Today. 10 February 2005 (p. B3).
- Nicholson, Kieran. “Mint Sprouts Corny Coins.”
- The Denver Post. 10 February 2005 (p. A1).
State Quarter Errors
|The Wisconsin State Quarter was released October 25, 2004. No one anticipated the excitement that was to follow a few months later, when an extra "leaf" was discovered on a few of them. United States Mint image.|
The presence of an extra cornstalk leaf on the 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter has jazzed both collectors and non-collectors alike. When mass media headlines scream "Hidden Treasure in Your Pocket Change?", small wonder that word of the Wisconsin State Quarter error has made its way into everyday conversation.
Here's the lowdown: Wisconsin State Quarters were released amidst the usual fanfare in October 2004. Toward the end of December, some curious-looking Wisconsin State Quarters were discovered in Tucson, Arizona. These quarters appeared to possess an extra "leaf" added to the ear of corn on the Wisconsin reverse side design. Apparently, there are two varieties, one with the "leaf" pointing down, and the other with the "leaf" pointing upward. All of the "extra leaf" error quarters came from the Denver Mint.
News of the oddity traveled fast. Some collectors and dealers began offering hundreds of dollars for a Wisconsin State Quarter error coin. Stories appeared in television broadcasts and general circulation print media, prompting even non-collectors to empty out their piggy banks for a second look. Near the crescendo of the frenzy, certain individual coins were selling for as high as $1500. After a few thousand of the coins were found, prices cooled off, but still, a collector can expect to pay hundreds of dollars on eBay for an Uncirculated Wisconsin State Quarter error coin.
|A regular Wisconsin State Quarter does not include something resembling an additional cornstalk leaf. United States Mint image.||A Wisconsin State Quarter bearing what appears to be an extra leaf. This is the "Low Leaf" variety. Image courtesy of CoinPage.||This is the "High Leaf" variety. Were these varieties the result of a die cut mishap, or the work of a meddler? Image courtesy of CoinPage.|
So what was the cause for this error coin? There was some controversy associated with this question. Some experts believed the raised features next to the ear of corn were the result of curved metal shavings becoming accidentally lodged in the coin die, which eventually got pounded into the die itself by the coin striking action, leaving a gouge in the die. As more coins were struck by the same die, coin metal flowed into the gouged recess, giving the coin an appearance of another leaf. Those who subscribe to this theory also point out that these so-called leaves fall far short of proper design definition, are awkwardly placed, and lack texture.
Other observers, equally knowledgeable of the coining process, speculated that this was no mistake at all, that the extra leaves were added deliberately in an unauthorized manner by someone inside the Denver Mint. The basis for this theory is that it seems too coincidental that two random dies (i.e. one for each "extra leaf" variety) independently acquired gouged recesses in just the right spot to give the appearance of an added leaf. The odds of such an event occurring on two different dies are astronomical, they argued, and are far more likely attributed to the intentional efforts of an amateur engraver.
In the August 2007 issue of The Numismatist, the official publication of the American Numismatic Association, collector Chris Pilliod, who is a metallurgist by profession, published the results of a scientific investigation into the cause of the extra leaves. The evidence he gathered, much of it through scanning electron microscopy, led him to conclude the "error" was done intentionally. The window of opportunity was the time between die hubbing and final heat treat, when the die metal is soft enough that someone can alter the design with a punch tool and hammer. High magnification revealed metal flow evidence consistent with theory, while eliminating other possible causes. We are still left to wonder why someone would do such a thing.
How many of the "error" coins exist? An investigation revealed Denver Mint operators noticed the Wisconsin defects early on and pulled the offending dies from service. Based on the slight amount of wear on the dies at their retirement, it is estimated that 20,000 of the Low Leaf and 15,000 of the High Leaf varieties made it into a massive coin hopper, and were soon bundled into rolls alongside standard Wisconsin quarters and escaped to the public.
Years from now, will anyone be excited about owning a Wisconsin extra leaf variety? Will collectors eagerly seek them out? Who knows, but one is reminded of a couple of other mishaps at the Denver Mint long ago that to this very day cause racing hearts and sweaty palms amongst numismatists: the 1922 "No D" Lincoln Cent and the 1937-D three-legged Buffalo Nickel have both earned a high place in coin lore, with impressive value increases over time to prove it. Perhaps a similar, lofty status awaits the 2004-D Wisconsin "error" quarter.
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Statehood Quarters Collection Statehood Quarter Error Coins
2004-D Wisconsin Quarter (Extra Leaf)
Wisconsin Quarter design, with "High Leaf" and "Low Leaf" errors below.
The design for the 30th Statehood quarter features a cow, a round of cheese and an ear of corn. Some Wisconsin quarter errors were found with an "extra cornstalk leaf" – either pointing down ("Low Leaf") or pointing up ("High Leaf"). The normal cause would be metal shavings accidentally lodged in the die, creating a gouge from the coin striking action. However, because roughly equal quantities exist of the two varieties, some experts speculate that the extra leaves were deliberately created by someone at the Denver Mint – as the odds of such a similar event occurring on the same location on two different dies are astronomical.
2005-P Minnesota Doubled Die Quarter (Extra Tree)
Error not depicted
This quarter celebrates the 32nd state's profuse lakes, forests and wildlife. But some Minnesota quarter errors exhibit an "extra" treetop next to the fourth evergreen to the right of the state outline. This error is of the category "doubled die" – indicating that the coining die had an area of misaligned impressions. This would have occurred during production of the die, when the master tool used to impress the design into the die slipped or shifted slightly during the process. The strength of the doubling (or clarity of the "extra tree") on a particular coin has determined its desirability and value among error coin collectors.
2005-P Kansas Filled Die Quarter ("IN GOD WE RUST")
Error not depicted
Like all mechanical devices, a coin press needs lubricant to prevent its moving metal parts from damaging each other. In this case, some lubricating grease escaped from the machinery onto the surface of the 2005-P Kansas quarter obverse die then in use. The grease plugged up the letter "T" in TRUST, which is recessed on the die to create a raised image on the coins. Thus, the planchet metal could not flow into that recess and the motto appears to read "IN GOD WE RUST" on coins struck by the grease-filled die. While this type of event is quite common, its occurrence within such a hallowed motto created a prominent quarter error.
2006-P Nevada Clipped Planchet Quarter
Error not depicted
Featuring one of the most popular statehood designs, some Nevada quarter errors struck at the Philadelphia Mint have been found with irregular, non-circular shapes due to curved or straight clipped planchets (coin blanks). Planchets are punched from long sheets of metal as the sheets are automatically fed through the cutting machine. If the sheet fails to move ahead at the proper speed, a punch may overlap another punched area – creating a curved clipped planchet. If the sheet is improperly aligned, punches may overlap the side of the sheet, creating straight clipped planchets. These quarter errors are very popular with collectors for their prominent irregularities.
Why Your Wisconsin Quarter Could Be Worth a Lot More Than You Think
The United States Mint began producing the 50 State Quarters® in 1999. Each year, five special designs were used to honor each state in the order that they joined the Union. The obverse shares a common design depicting President George Washington and is very similar to the portrait used on the Washington quarters minted from 1932 until 1998. Mint sculptor-engraver William Cousins executed the design based on the original by John Flanagan.
All of these coins are legal tender and of standard weight and composition. They are circulating commemorative coins with the intention to be used in daily commerce. Each state was responsible for creating a design for its own quarter and approved by the governor of that state. The Secretary of the Treasury approved the final designs. The United States Mint facility in Denver and Philadelphia produced coins for circulation, while the facility in San Francisco produces Proof coins made for collectors.
The United States Mint estimates that over 140 million people collected the 50 State Quarters®. In total, the mint manufactured over 35 billion state quarters. With that large of a mintage, the odds of error coins escaping the mint are rather common. There are examples of die-filled strikes such as the “In God We Rust” error and many off-center strikes that can be purchased for a few dollars from your favorite coin dealer.
However, the mint produced only one die variety out of the fifty different types of coins that were made. Intermediate and advanced coin collectors who are looking to assemble a complete set of State Quarters actively seek these die varieties. However, the excitement for the State Quarter program has waned over the years. With the new America the Beautiful Quarters now in circulation coupled with state Quarter burnout, have driven prices for these quarters down.
The Wisconsin State Quarter
In 2004, Wisconsin was honored as the twenty-ninth state to join the union of the United States in 1848. The reverse of the coin features a cow on the left side and an ear of corn partially hidden behind the wheel of cheese on the right side. A banner with the motto FORWARD flanks the bottom of the coin.
This design was adapted from a drawing by Wisconsin resident Rose Marty who lived on a farm in Monticello, Wisconsin. Mint sculptor-engraver Alfred F. Maletsky adopted the drawing for coinage. This artwork was his last project before he retired on December 31, 2003. The mint officially released the coin to the general public on October 25, 2004.
2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter Die Variety
According to Q. David Bowers, on December 11, 2004, Bob Ford brought two quarters to the Old Pueblo Coin Exchange in Tucson, Arizona. Manager Ben Weinstein inspected the coins and determined that they could be a possible die variety. Owner Rob Weiss purchased the coins from Ford and contacted Coin World magazine editor Bill Gibbs with the news of a new die variety.
By January 2005, word spread like wildfire and the hunt was on across the United States searching for these two new die varieties. The first variety looks like there is an extra leaf on the left side of the ear of corn very near the top leaf and is known as the “Extra Leaf High” variety. The second variety also has an extra leaf on the left side of the ear of corn but is lower and touches the wheel of cheese. This variety is known as the “Extra Leaf Low” variety.
How it Happened
In December 2005, die variety and error expert J. T. Stanton, author of the "Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties," hypothesized that the extra lines located by the ear of corn were deliberately added to a working die before it went into production at the Denver mint. Although nobody knows for sure how the coin die was modified, he hypothesizes that since the lines are concentric and very similar in appearance, they could have been added by using any common tool located around the mint. In fact, upon closer inspection, the lines do not have the appearance of a leaf that you would find on an ear of corn.
As reported in Coin World, February 6, 2006, the United States Mint Police investigated and concluded that someone "engaged in a sequence of criminal acts to intentionally alter and/or mutilate an unknown quantity of Wisconsin quarters from the Denver Mint, and in furtherance of their scheme, caused the release of those coins to the public." However, there have been no arrests reported nor suspects being apprehended.
2004-D Extra Leaf Wisconsin State Quarter Coin Values
Numismatic researchers and experts estimate that approximately 2,000 Extra Leaf Low and 3,000 Extra Leaf High variety coins were released into circulation. Most of them were distributed to banks in southern Arizona and western Texas. As soon as news broke, many coin collectors and non-coin collectors alike started searching through their change for this new variety. Therefore most examples are uncirculated. Most circulated examples show very little wear and are graded usually AU-55. Occasionally, one is found in circulation today.
2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter - Regular Issue
2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter – Extra Leaf High
- Circulated: $50.00
- Uncirculated: $130.00
2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter – Extra Leaf Low
- Circulated: $30.00
- Uncirculated: $100.00
Misprint wisconsin quarters
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