Hobbies & CraftsRare U.S. Coins

What Are Transitional Error Coins? Why Are They So Rare?

Transitional error coins are coins that were made on a planchet (the blank piece of metal on which a coin design is stamped) from another year that had used a different metal composition.

Another kind of transitional error coin is one that is struck with an unintended design that had either previously been used or had not been slated for use yet.

Let’s look at each type of transitional error coin separately:

#1 – Coins Made On A Planchet From A Different Year & The Wrong Metal

All 1965 dimes (and quarters) were supposed to be made on copper-nickel clad planchets. But a few were accidentally struck on the 90% silver planchets from 1964, making them valuable transitional error coins!

So, for example, in the United States the last 90% silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars were made in 1964.

Production of copper-nickel clad dimes and quarters began in 1965.

Half dollars were struck on 40% silver planchets also beginning in 1965.

Even though all 1965 dimes and quarters were supposed to be made on the copper-nickel clad planchets, a few were accidentally struck on the 90% silver planchets from 1964!

As a result, there are a few rare transitional error coins that exist from those years.

The same thing has happened in other years, as well.

Any time the metal composition for a certain denomination of U.S. coin is changed in between years, there is the chance that a transitional error coin could result.

MUST READ: Off-Metal Coins vs. Wrong Planchet Errors

#2 – Coins With Designs That Were Supposed To Have Been Retired Or Not Used Yet

1992 Close AM pennies have the bottoms of the letters "A" and "M" in "AMERICA" nearly touching. However, the Close AM dies were not supposed to be used until the following year, for 1993 pennies! Therefore, these are now valuable transitional error coins!

As for transitional errors involving designs, there are perhaps few as popular as the 1992 Close AM pennies.

The 1992 Close AM pennies were struck with a reverse (“tails side”) die arrangement on which the bottoms of the letters “A” and “M” in “AMERICA” are nearly touching.

The Close AM dies were not planned to be used until the following year, for the production of 1993 pennies. Some theorize the 1992 Close AM pennies may have been experimental trial strikes that somehow escaped the U.S. Mint.

Another popular transitional error involving design mishaps is the 1982 no-mintmark dime. Lacking the “P” mintmark that should have been on all Philadelphia Mint dimes struck since 1980, the 1982 no-mintmark dime has become one of the most valuable clad dimes you can find in circulation.

MUST READ: The U.S. Mint’s Mistakes Result In Error Coins For Collectors

How Much Are Transitional Error Coins Worth?

These types of coin errors are worth thousands of dollars!

Using the rare 1965 silver quarter and 1965 silver dime as an example:

  • The 1965 silver dime has sold for more than $4,000.
  • The 1965 silver quarter fetched a whopping $7,050 at a 2014 auction.
Believe it or not, a 1965 silver dime  sold for more than $4,000 and a 1965 silver quarter sold for $7,050. These were both transitional error coins.

The period from 1964 to 1971 offered ample opportunity for the production of transitional errors for the dime, quarter dollar, and half dollar. The switch from 90% silver to copper-nickel clad for the dime and quarter dollar, while not popular with collectors, was a financial necessity. Since production of 1964 and 1965 coins continued well past the ends of those 2 calendar years, even concurrently, planchets of both compositions were on hand — and not surprisingly, coins of either date were struck on the wrong planchets.

~ CoinWorld

Are there more of these rare and valuable 1965 silver dimes and silver quarters out there?


The opportunity exists for transitional errors from other years and denominations, too!

A List Of Rare Transitional Error Coins

This type of error coin is definitely a popular collectible.

There are several kinds for hobbyists to pursue.

Here’s a list of some of the most valuable transitional error coins made on the wrong type of metal OR with the wrong design:

Transitional Error Cents

Transitional Error Dimes

Transitional Error Quarters

Transitional Error Half Dollars

  • 1964 Kennedy half dollar on clad planchet
  • 1965 Kennedy half dollar on silver planchet
  • 1964 Kennedy half dollar on clad dime planchet
  • 1965 Kennedy half dollar on silver dime planchet
  • 1977 Kennedy half dollar on 40% silver planchet

Transitional Error Dollar Coins