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NostoNews, March 1, 2005
by Tommy Jasmin

Varieties are the spice of life.

There's a buzz in the coin world these days as the first die variety in the Statehood Quarter series has hit the streets. It's actually two varieties for the Wisconsin state quarter - extra design elements on the reverse stalk of corn. One variety has an extra "high" leaf, and a slightly more common variety has an extra "low" leaf.


© 2005 PCGS

The popular explanation, since the U.S. Mint hasn't provided one, is that die gouges caused them. Now really, what are the odds that an error would result in a raised element in the shape of a leaf, and, in the exact location an extra leaf would belong? Was somebody at the mint having a little fun to stir up some interest?

While I respect anyone's choice for what to collect - to each his/her own - I am not big on varieties myself. For completists, they make life expensive. Comic collectors end up buying the same book several times over to own varieties that differ only in the cover artist. But it's hard not to like a variety like this, which is clear to the naked eye and free of ambiguity. You don't need a microscope to see these differences.

How many?


Current estimates for the Extra Leaf High variety are reported by Eagle Eye Rare Coins, Inc. at 1,200 pieces. They estimate the Extra Leaf Low variety at 2,000 pieces. Real numbers remain to be seen, and collectors should keep in mind that Eagle Eye wants a frenzy for these coins, because they've got 'em. Their site is calling the discovery the "most dramatic and unusual die variety to come out of the Mint in 50 years."

Who's got them?


Since they seem to have turned up only in the Tucson, AZ area, what great luck for Eagle Eye and Old Pueblo Coin, who have acquired many and have some for sale. But buyers beware; the site asks you to order by email, and states sending your credit card number in a second email will "virtually eliminate any security concerns". Do not do this. Sending a credit card number in email is sending it in plain text across the Internet, where any hacker with a packet sniffer can pick it up. If I capture an email with credit card number XXX and the email originates from Joe.Blow@Yahoo.com, how hard is it to match the number to a person? Buyers, you are better off to simply pick up the phone and call to purchase these coins.

What's the value?


PCGS has already assigned id numbers for these varieties, which helps Nosto track sales. If you want to follow the true value, track your pieces on Nostomania.com.

The real market value will become known here, as Nosto pricing is driven by actual sales, not hype. NGC is offering to certify sets. You get a clunky oversized holder that's not going to fit in your standard certified storage boxes. If I wanted a set, I'd buy each in their own certified holder like my other coins.

It will be interesting to see how the value settles out after a few pricing updates. Few people seem to be pointing out this is the only truly rare Statehood Quarter. Think about it - mintages for all others are in the hundreds of millions, while for these varieties it's in the thousands.

Only in Wisconsin


I found it entertaining that this variety happened to occur on the quarter for Nosto's home state of Wisconsin. The political squabbling that goes into Statehood Quarter designs is comical, and a story for another column. Some of us here in Wisconsin think it's funny that the best we could come up with is a cow, cheese, and corn. It probably should have been a cow, cheese, and a can of beer. That would have been more representative. Think about this - only in Wisconsin do you find the two major sports teams named after meat (Green Bay Packers) and beer (Milwaukee Brewers).



Prizes

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Thanks, we'll see you all next month.

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