Local News

Man Finds 11-Cent Penny

Posted August 30, 2000

— Roll over, Sacagawea.

The owner of Dempsey and Baxter Coins and Stamps says he has a 1999 copper-plated penny with the familiar Lincoln profile on one side and the reverse side of a dime on the other.

The rare dime-penny was struck long before four misprinted 2000 Sacagawea $1 gold coins appeared with the American Indian guide's face on one side and the front of a Washington quarter on the other.

``It's like finding a lottery ticket and you don't know what you're cashing it in for,'' said Jack Dempsey, owner of the northwestern Pennsylvania store.

The Professional Coin Grading Service in Newport Beach, Calif., declined to certify Dempsey's coin earlier this year because such an error was unprecedented. They thought differently after the U.S. Mint acknowledged the Sacagawea dollars as mistakes.

``It's the only one known,'' said Miles Standish, spokesman for the service. ``This coin obviously has been available longer than the Sacagawea mules and no others have turned up.''

A ``mule'' in the coin world is a hybrid of two denominations.

Dempsey said he bought the penny for a ``substantial'' sum in December from a customer who had obtained it in a roll of normal pennies from an Erie-area bank.

This summer four one-sided Sacagawea dollar coins surfaced and there have been unconfirmed reports of 15 others. A former press operator at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia has been charged with stealing and selling misprinted coins.

U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said Wednesday officials there haven't seen Dempsey's odd coin or heard of any other 11-cent pennies like it.

``We're doing 28 billion coins this year, and so far we've talked about 19 error coins,'' White said. ``In terms of the percent chance that an error coin could come out, that's .0000019. People are so interested in them because they're so rare.''

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Levy said it's doubtful that the man charged in connection with the Sacagawea mules made Dempsey's penny because it was found in a roll of bank pennies.

``That's one that just escaped everyone's attention,'' Levy said.


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