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Bootstrap Error Lincoln Cents In Circulation
By Richard Giedroyc

There are many minor error coins that can be found in circulation, but there are few error coins on which the error is both graphically visible and available in significant enough quantities to grab the interest of collectors as being a major variety.

There may be such a major variety now appearing in circulation, this being a 2009-P Bootstrap Lincoln cent. This appears to be a major variety of the Formative Years Lincoln cent, the second of four circulating commemorative cents to be issued during the year. Significant numbers of cents with a prominent die crack graphically visible without magnification extending from Lincoln’s left boot through the second U in PLURIBUS at six o’clock on the reverse of the Formative Years cent recently appeared at random in 2009-P Uncirculated cent rolls. The die crack is similar to a bootstrap, thus gaining the nickname for the variety.

The die crack error was first discovered in a roll of Lincoln cents examined by Jason Rodgers of HCC Inc., a rare coin company based in Holland, Ohio (a suburb of Toledo). Rodgers wasn’t particularly impressed by the first example discovered, but when several Bootstrap cents began appearing sporadically within other rolls Rodgers began to pay closer attention.

Rodgers said his sample of more than 300 error coins was too small to conclude if the die crack is not progressive or not, although the die crack does not appear to become worse on later strike coins from the Bootstrap die. A progressive die crack would indicate the coins are late die state coinage originating from a deteriorating die. Error coins that as a group do not show a die progression suggest the coins originated from a die produced with a crack that was in the die when the die was first used.

This could put this error in league with the 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cent and the 1937-D Three Legged Buffalo nickel, each of which are error coins produced from a single faulty die the mint failed to detect prior to commencing production with that die rather than from a deteriorating die or from a faulty hub.

No guess of the number produced will be available for some time, but considering the die crack is consistent and appears to come from a single reverse die the life expectancy of that working die can be estimated.


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