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Overdates Found Off the Beaten Path
By Ginger Rapsus

So, you’re tired of the same old collecting by date and mintmark. You need something new, a challenge. You are looking for a new coin series to collect that offers more variety than the usual, and you want a collection that’s a little bit different.

Collect overdates. A set of United States overdate coins can include silver, copper and gold coins of nearly every type and denomination. The coins are scarce. You can never know the exact mintage figure. And you know that your set may never really be complete. There may be undiscovered overdates, and you, the devoted collector, may discover the next overdate coin.

Overdates are made when a numeral of a coin’s date is punched over an existing number. In the early days of the Mint, money was scarce, and if a die from the previous year was left over, a new date was just punched over the old. These interesting coins are, strictly speaking, not “mint errors.”

Some of the more famous overdates occurred in the 20th century in popular series. The 1942/1 Mercury dime is a major example. This coin is in demand from Mercury dime fans, those who appreciate rarities, and overdate collectors. This overdate was made at Philadelphia and Denver, but none has been found with a San Francisco mintmark ... yet.

The 1918-D, “8 over 7” Buffalo nickel is another popular overdate in a popular series. How many of these coins had the date worn off? Buffalo nickels often were found with dates completely worn off, and who knows how many overdates were lost this way? I once saw a 1918/7-D Buffalo nickel offered for sale with an acid-restored date. The specialist in overdate coins may not want such a piece, but then again, an acid dated coin can be a space filler, until a better coin can be found.

Another coin often found with worn-off dates is the Standing Liberty quarter. If you have any of these quarters with the date worn off, but the “S” mintmark plainly visible, you could have a 1918-S, “8 over 7” overdate. The exact mintage of overdates is unknown, and probably only a few survived with full dates.

One of the more obvious overdates occurred on a Bust dollar of 1802. The 1802/1 variety is plainly visible on this large silver coin. This particular overdate comes in two distinct varieties, with narrow and wide dates, referring to the spacing of the numerals. The wide date is a bit scarcer, but both 1802/1 overdates are not priced that much above the price for a normally dated coin.

Devotees of the Capped Bust half dollar series are familiar with the 1820/19 coin. This overdate, too, is plainly visible. The Capped Bust half dollar is famous for its many varieties, and the overdate, too, comes in two distinct varieties: with a curl base 2 and a square 2. Both coins are priced only a little above the prices for normally dated coins.

Many other overdates arE known in the Capped Bust half dollar series, nearly one overdate in each year. Beginning with the 1808/7 and through the 1829/7, Bust half collectors know all about these remarkable coins that are not priced too high, except for the 1812/1 overdate with small and large “8;” the large “8” is much scarcer, and priced accordingly.

Overdates are known for the Shield, Buffalo and Jefferson nickels, a virtual type set. The 1943-P with “3 over 2” may even be found in pocket change. Check every war nickel carefully. Check your Liberty nickels too. No overdates are known for this series, yet, but there may be one just waiting to be discovered.

The tiny silver three-cent piece minted from 1851-1873 is known to have a few overdates in the set. The 1862/1 is not that hard to find and the price isn’t too painful.

Even some gold coins have overdates. The half eagle of 1796, with the “6 over 5;” the 1802/1 quarter eagle; and a number of overdate Capped Bust half eagles are known. The latter series is scarce in its own right, as so many of these coins were melted for the bullion value. Gold overdates can be considered big-league collecting.

The Saint-Gaudens double eagle has an overdate, the 1909/8, priced only a little higher than the normal date in Mint State.

Overdates can be collected as a type set; many different types would be included, and this would be a unique way of building a United States type set. Perhaps the Bust Half nut, as these collectors are often called because of their club name, could find the overdates in his favorite series. Maybe another collector would want only the more modern overdates. The completist, with a good budget, would want to find as many overdates, in all denominations and metals, as he could. Even this kind of collection may never be finished.

The specialist in overdates can build a different and scarce collection. No one really know how scarce any of these coins really is. And who knows, maybe the next rare overdate will be discovered by someone who loves overdate coins and studies every piece with a magnifier.


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