What To Look For In Damaged Coins – Example: Is This A Nickel Error Coin?

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nickel-error-coin-front.jpg  error-nickel-back.jpg


He wrote:

Could you please check out this Nickle [sic] which I found amongst my other nickels and let me know if it’s an error coins? please view attachment with scan of both sides of the coin. Your help would be highly appriciated [sic]. — Edwin

Curious about this nickel? Read on to get the answer…


Nickel Error Or Post-Mint Damage?

Well, Edwin (and everybody else!) it looks like the 1970 Jefferson nickel in question is the victim of post-mint damage.

Post-mint damage refers to alterations (either accidental or intended) which occur to a coin after it’s been minted.


How Can I Tell It’s Post-Mint Damage?

In the case of Edwin’s 1970 Jefferson nickel, it looks like it was severely damaged by something exerting torquing (twisting) pressure. Apparently, the nickel got caught or stuck in something with severe pressure.

You can observe some of the damage as evidenced by areas where the metal appears to have been pushed up along the ridges of the gouging.

You can even see where part of the rim on the bottom of the reverse (around 6:00 on the tails side of the coin, below Monticello) is actually broken away.

It looks like the coin saw wear after it was damaged; I can tell because it looks like some of the raised areas of damaged have been softened or blunted through wear.

Who knows what caused this post-mint damage, but it certainly resulted in some eye-popping results!


Error Coins Versus Damaged Coins

At this point, you’re probably wondering what an error coin is versus damaged coins.


  • An error coin is one that was somehow messed up at the United States Mint due to a minting blunder
  • A post-mint damage coin is one that suffered either intentional or accidental alterations after it left the United States Mint

Error coins are generally more valuable than regular coins, even if only slightly moreso. Some of the most common error coins, like some types of off-center strikes or blank planchets are worth only a few dollars. Double die error coins are one of the types of coin errors worth significantly more — like the 1955 doubled die cent, which is worth around $1,000 and up!


Most Damaged Coins Aren’t Valuable

While Edwin’s nickel may look pretty off the wall, it unfortunately isn’t worth more than face value. Rarely does post-mint damage ever cause a coin to be worth more.

In fact, one of the few instances of post-mint damage causing a coin to be worth more would be Hobo nickelsBuffalo nickels that were artfully re-sculpted.

Definitely keep checking your change! Even if you don’t find anything extraordinarily valuable, you’re always liable to pull out a conversation piece like Edwin’s 1970 Jefferson nickel!

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of both the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, food, and living green.

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  • Billy

    I can tell you exactly how that damage occurred, I sent
    thousand of them out on the market years back when my classic triple cherry
    nickel slot machine crashed. 


    It is wear and tear from the coin hoppers rotating feeding/pickup
    mechanism. When you hit a jackpot it would start to spin picking up the coins
    to supply the feed chute pushing out your winnings into the catch pan after
    hitting a jackpot.


    Occasionally a coin or two will jam delaying payout,
    until other coins free it up, or maintenance is required to un-jam them. You
    will also find such markings on other denomination as well.

  • krystal

    is the 2002 colorized  tennessee elvis presley quarter a fake or fraud?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide


      It’s a real 2002 Tennessee quarter that was altered by a private company. While it is a novelty coin, it really has no numismatic value since it was altered.

  • Lissa C Della

    Hi Josh,

    Found more odd coins that I hope you can help me with. I was wondering if you could take a look at these coins and tell me if they are errors? And maybe inform me if they are worth anything? First two pictures are of State QTRS that look and feel a bit rough-like; very dull. But when you flip them over, the other side looks like a normal quarter. The next three are of a Hawaii Volcanoes 2012 quarter with what looks to be some strange bump on Washington’s nose? The 2005 D dime has clipped edges. Took a pic of it at different angles. And the Florida State quarter is like the first four, dull on one side; shinny on the other.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Lissa,

      My thoughts on your coins are as follows:

      The shiny/rough quarters – the 50 States Quarters program was very popular, and in a lot of cases these coins were placed into albums or holders that show off just one side of the coins. However, many of these holders have chemicals that react negatively with the metals in the coins, causing them to slightly corrode or become discolored. I think that may be what happened to those quarters. If so, each is worth face value.

      The dime – it is hard to say for without examining the coin in hand with a magnifying glass, but I think it was scuffed against something very abrasive after the dime left the U.S. Mint! causing the metal to shear off from the coin.

      Thank you for your questions! Please let us know what else you find!

      • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

        These sound like de crack errors, particularly the third coin, BJ. That old be worth a small to moderate premium over face value ($1 to $5 perhaps). Would you mind posting photos here of the other two coins, please? Thanks!

      • Lissa C Della

        Thanks Josh! Greatly appreciate the info. I am learning a lot. Can’t wait to see what else I may find. And I will definitely share it with you all :)

  • Lissa C Della

    Hi again! So I found two more dimes that look odd, at least to me lol. Would love to hear your opinion on them. The first is a 1969 D dime (first two pictures). It looks like tracks or ridges on the top-outter edge? But the reverse looks normal. The next three pictures are of a 1999 P dime. This one looks really odd! The lettering & Roosevelt’s bust looks deformed? What do you think might have caused this?

  • Anisha

    Is this pmd?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Anisha —

      Essentially, yes — those stains and streaks appear to be environmental reactions.

      Have a good day,