Long time error specialist Greg Bennick has discovered a multi-denomination mated pair of uncirculated 1867 Shield Nickels which had been described at auction as a lesser error type. What is so unusual about the set of two coins is that not only were the two coins struck together but one of the two coins was struck on a Shield nickel planchet, not a five cent planchet as had been described both by the auction house and on the third-party grading service holder. In addition, the three-cent piece had been struck previously, making it a double strike which imparted a brockage into the Shield nickel from the first strike of the three cent piece.
The set, unique for the Shield nickel series, and one of the most significant error finds in years, was purchased in Heritage's Misfits Collection of U.S Error Coinage, Part 2 as lot #93096 for $10,800 (including buyers' premium) on Dec. 21st 2022.
About the pair, Bennick said, "When I saw the coins in the auction, they were described too simply by Heritage, and were in third-party grading holders with labels that didn't accurately match the coins. Heritage described them as both having been struck on five cent planchets and gave details simply as 'Mated Error Pair of 1867 Shield Nickels, No Rays'. In addition, the tag on each third-party grading holder only said 'Mated Pair, Coin #1/2' and 'Mated Pair, Coin #2/2'. The first coin was clearly double struck as it had left a perfect brockage impression within the second coin during the strike which mated them together. I thought it odd that everyone had missed describing the double struck first coin. I also noticed that the two coins seemed to fit into one another more easily than they would if the planchets were the same denomination. The second coin had a bit of peripheral design remaining even though the first coin had been fully indented into it. I own and have studied many mated pairs, though nothing of this magnitude, and I thought if the third-party grading service had missed the double strike, that possibly they might have missed more about the pair as well." The three cent coin likely was leftover in a bin that was then filled with five cent planchets for striking and then delivered to a press striking five cent pieces.
Bennick took a chance, winning the pair with a bid of $10,800 (including the buyer's premium). Upon closer inspection of the coins, Bennick determined that one had been struck on a smaller planchet, a theory confirmed last week by NGC who slabbed the coins, with one coin having been struck on a three cent nickel planchet and the second struck on a Shield nickel planchet. NGC graded each coin MS64. Error expert Ken Potter indicates that the NGC holder should say that the first coin was struck on a three-cent nickel planchet previously struck by five cent dies as proven by Bennick's previous comments on the brockage in the second coin. The third party confirmation elevates the market value of the errors considerably.
A collector of major mint errors for over forty years since the age of 10, Bennick is currently a board member with CONECA (The Combined Organization of Numismatic Error Collectors of America) and is thrilled with the discovery. He adds that he hopes news of the find will draw more new error collectors into the hobby. "There are still treasures to be found," he said, "and it all starts with excitement and education about errors, and then close and careful study of as many coins as possible." CONECA can be found online at conecaonline.org.
Bennick asked now-retired error dealer Fred Weinberg if Weinberg had heard of any Shield nickel mated pairs during his career. Weinberg, former error authenticator for PCGS replied that he had never heard of any such set, even in the legendary Conway Bolt collection which Weinberg himself had sold in the early 1970s. Major error dealer Mike Byers did not recall knowing of any Shield nickel mated pairs either and said that this pair was worth multiples of the sales price.