What To Look For In Damaged Coins – Example: Is This A Nickel Error Coin Or Post-Mint Damage?

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We received the following pictures of an unusual looking U.S. nickel from a loyal reader who subscribes to our U.S. Coins Newsletter. He wrote:

Could you please check out this nickel which I found among my other nickels and let me know if it’s an error coin? Your help would be highly appreciated.

— Edwin

Are you curious about this nickel, too? Wondering how to tell a legit error coin from a coin that’s been damaged after it left the Mint?

Read on to find out…

Is It A Nickel Error Coin Or Just A Damaged Coin?

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.

Thus, this is NOT a valuable nickel error coin.

How Can I Tell That 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 damage 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 vs. 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 Mint.

Error coins are generally more valuable than regular coins — even if only slightly moreso.

Some of the most common errors and varieties, 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!

Damaged coins are generally less valuable than regular coins — if they have any value at all.

Some of the most common types of coin damage include coins that have been cleaned, coins that have holes, coins that are bent, coins that are corroded, and other coins that have been messed up in one way or another.

The Bottom Line…

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.

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 spare change. Even if you don’t find anything extraordinarily valuable, you may find a conversation piece like Edwin’s 1970 Jefferson nickel!

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30 thoughts on “What To Look For In Damaged Coins – Example: Is This A Nickel Error Coin Or Post-Mint Damage?”

  1. 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,

      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.

  2. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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!

      • 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 🙂

  3. 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?

    • Hi, Anisha —

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

      Have a good day,

  4. Found this 1979 Jefferson that looks like it has pressed marks on it. Not sure if it is an error coin or not. Any help would be aappreciated.

    • Hi, Joseph —

      This looks like it could be a strike-through error from the Mint, though an in-hand exam would be necessary to check the surface detailing around the anomaly more closely. If it is a strike-through, it does carry a premium. Diehard error collectors/dealers will pay the most.


  5. I found a 1983 Washington quarter that looks like it was minted with debris in the die on both sides of the coin in different places, that is, not opposite each other.

  6. Here are pictures of the obverse and reverse Of what looks like to me a 1983 Washington quarter that was minted with debris in the die. The edges are perfect near the mark on the obverse with only a slight deviation near the mark on the reverse. What is this kind of error called and what may it be worth?

    • Hi, Eugene —

      Judging from the edges of the damaged area, it could be a defective planchet. These types of errors, should it check out by sight-seen inspection by a dealer with a magnifying device, could be worth $10 or more.


  7. Hello I have this Canada pennie an would the damages on the it could it be laminashon issue . Or would it take a hand on exam to decide . Im just not sure . An as always THANK’S …1# Fan

    • Hi, Tifany —

      This is a very severely damaged 2012 (?) Jefferson nickel… It’s technically worth face value, though at this point it is so mutilated it’s likely a bank would recall it if that’s where it wound up.

      Cool find!

    • Hi, Doug —

      The bubbling of the inner cladding layer and the dark color strongly suggests this coin was exposed to very high levels of heat. This coin, while unusual in appearance, is worth face value.

      Thank you for your question and photos,

    • Hi, Stephanie —

      I’m glad to hear you’re having fun roll searching! The squiggle on Kennedy’s cheek appears to be a possible die defect. While something like this isn’t generally worth any significant premiums, the fact you found a 90% silver 1964 Kennedy half dollar in a roll (correct?) is pretty neat in itself!

      Good luck on your other roll finds,

      • Last year I purchased some canisters from a coin shop but never looked at them until recently. I have been learning so much and really appreciate your feedback! Thank you!

        • Hello, Stephanie!

          That’s fantastic to hear, and I appreciate your reaching out to share your wonderful comments. I wish you much success and FUN in your coin collecting adventures!

          Good luck,

  8. Hello Josh,
    Would you please tell me a little something about these nickels. Are they post mint or error. The 80 is scratched as such only in the field. Not outside the rim on both the OandR and this The 2015? Would that be improper annealing on both OandR and fibally this 88. Is that die fill on the obverse bust? Thanks a million!! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/686f8772f8d41dede2fe1045529520a0ffbe6dfd63dc7dd973efc0115ac0f7f1.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/264b87315c78abe25037413278fc7179f9dfac849ab33ea406ce52c2d9884193.jpg

    • Hi, Justin —

      The 1980-D and 1988-D appear to have moderate to heavy circulation wear, with the 88-D showing some severe rim damage. The 2015-D is discolored due to post-mint environmental damage. These are all worth their face value.


    • Hi, Allen —

      You can post photos of your coin here… Sounds like a potential alignment error, but bear in mind that normally such errors are off by only a few degrees. Anything more usually is indicative of a post-mint alteration.



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