Discarded cent makes some noise among numismatists

The discovery of a significant number of 2006 no mint mark, magnetic coins is bound to cause a bit of excitement, but it shouldn’t come as a shock. While the coin is tough to find, there are enough out there to indicate that it was the result of a planchet and die mix-up in Winnipeg, and that a few thousand, at least, must exist. It is also not surprising that the coins were found clustered in a batch of 5,000 coins.

If someone at the Royal Canadian Mint was having a bad day, then the error coins would be concentrated around a single shift’s production, and those coins would be concentrated in a relatively small number of boxes. The errors comprised about 10 per cent of the batch, which makes sense, since the Mint usually has several presses operating at one time, and only one machine would likely have used either a wrong die or a wrong batch of planchets. In other words, this discovery is exactly what you would expect to find if these coins were the result of a mix-up at the Mint rather than just the odd wrong planchet getting through the system. The next, and somewhat more dangerous, step is to speculate on if this gives us any clue to the total population of this coin.

Sadly the answer is somewhat imprecise. No doubt there are other rolls and boxes out there with coins in them that have yet to be discovered. Yet even if 1,000 complete boxes were sitting around, it would still be just a fraction of the total mintage. Plus, these boxes do not contain coins that are representative of a year’s production, but more likely just the production over a couple of shifts, or even just a couple of hours. No doubt there are also a bunch of these coins that entered circulation and were never spotted by the numismatic community. With billions of 2006 cents out there, it is hard to believe that collectors and dealers have been able to do any more than scratch the surface.

Now that all 1-cent coins are being recalled and melted, any survivors out in general use will disappear within the next 24 months. Finally, and this point bears remembering, there are plenty of cases of people poring through rolls and even boxes of 2006 coins and not finding a single error. Those failed searches don’t make headlines. What we can say for sure is that this discovery has dramatically increased the number of certified examples, and more than doubled the number of known examples. What remains to be seen is if the new discoveries will force the price down, or if the market will be able to absorb them all at the current asking price. Some people will say the price should drop, some will say the price should hold. I say both groups can’t be right, and only time will tell.

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