Proof 197X-S Ike Dollar
Double Struck on 2 gram
Aluminum Shell Gas Token
PCGS PR 64
This is an amazing and spectacular proof major mint error. It is a Proof Eisenhower Dollar from the San Francisco Mint that is double struck on an aluminum Shell Gas token. In 1968, the Franklin Mint struck aluminum tokens for the Shell Oil Company. Shell Oil issued a Mr. President coin game booklet as part of a promotion for their gas stations. People collected these aluminum tokens of the first 31 presidents of the United States and got prizes.
The United States Mint did not strike aluminum coins for circulation. Somehow, two of these aluminum Shell tokens were accidentally mixed in a bin of blank planchets or deliberately taken into the Mint. It is also unclear whether these were intentionally made or struck during the normal minting process. Furthermore, they were either taken out of the Mint or surfaced in sealed proof sets where a lucky collector discovered them.
These two aluminum Shell tokens were overstruck by the proof Eisenhower Dollar dies. This example, on a Ulysses S. Grant token, was double struck. The immense pressure from the dies expanded the size of the struck token to nearly the size of a Eisenhower Dollar. On both the obverse and reverse, design from the token understrike is visible.
Proof coins are struck by technicians who hand feed the blanks into special presses. They are produced, examined and packaged using extreme quality control. It is very unusual to find major proof errors. A few broadstrikes, off-centers, double strikes (in collar) and off-metals have been known to be found in sealed proof sets. Proof errors are aggressively sought after by many error collectors.
For comparison purposes, I sold a 1983-P Washington Quarter in mint state, struck over a token. This mint error was certified by NGC and realized $15,862 as lot number 6291 in the 2014 FUN Heritage Auction. This Eisenhower Dollar on a Shell Gas Token offered here is larger, aluminum, double struck and in proof.
Also for comparison purposes, here is a similar proof Ike Dollar that was struck at the San Francisco Mint in the 1970's on an Aluminum planchet weighing only 2 grams. It is also double struck and rotated a few degrees between the strikes. It is very well centered and shows the deep cameo portrait of President Eisenhower. It is the ultimate modern off-metal since it is on the highest denomination, proof and in aluminum.
There are only a few known U.S. coins struck on aluminum planchets. This Proof Aluminum Ike Dollar would be the centerpiece of any U.S. mint error collection.
Here is the Ulysses S. Grant token and
Shell's Mr. President Coin Game booklet:
Also available is the unique 1971-S Proof Ike Dollar Overstruck on a Bronze San Francisco Assay Office Medal. Click here for more info...
One of the most controversial categories of U.S. coins are mint errors. Many dealers and collectors, as well as coin auction houses, buy, sell, trade and auction many rare, exotic and unique major mint errors. Obviously, some of these defy logic and were intentionally created and taken out of the Mint.
In the early 2000's, a group of several hundred U.S. error coins were found in a safe-deposit box. Fred Weinberg purchased this group which included coins struck for proof sets and also coins struck for circulation. This group was auctioned by the California State Controller's Office of Unclaimed Property. The U.S. Secret Service inspected and released this collection to the State of California determining that it was legal to own. The State of California then auctioned the collection and the rest is history.
Another example of U.S. error coins escaping the Mint occurred in the 1970's. A hoard of proof error coins were smuggled out of the San Francisco Mint inside the oil pans of forklifts that were being serviced outside of the Mint. This topic was discussed in the June 6, 2022 Issue of Coin World, which covered Fred Weinberg's account of this story. The Coin World Managing Editor concluded:
Obviously, the marketplace accepts these coins, and some collectors are happy paying thousands of dollars for coins that show every indication of having been created through illegal means.
In Episode 11 of the PCGS video series Slab Lab, Seth Chandler interviews Fred Weinberg. In part 2 of the interview, Fred explains in detail why mint errors that are decades old are not recovered by the U.S. Mint. Fred's recollection of conversations in his office with the Chief of the U.S. Mint Police are extremely insightful and explain why the Mint doesn't attempt to recover error coins from decades ago.