PHILADELPHIA -- A batch of miscast 1983 pennies, worth several hundred dollars each, has touched off a small treasure hunt in a quiet central Pennsylvania town.
A Philadelphia coin collector, Harry Foreman, first spotted the odd coins at the beginning of the year, when a man from Lewistown sold him eight of the pennies. Foreman, through ads in the Lewistown newspaper, has since bought 250 of the pennies at $100 to $250 each.
The pennies were produced at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia and have a shadow, or double image, printed on their tail side. The mistake, says Foreman, is responsible for the high sale price.
'An error where the die is being made, where it is double struck and not caught by the mint, is very unusual,' Foreman said. 'The mints are embarrassed about it, collectors are happy about it.
A die is a stamping device that makes the pennies.
'Once I saw them I was excited because the doubling could easily be seen,' he said of his first purchase from a Lewistown penny holder.
'And when another guy from Lewistown came up with 10 additional coins, I knew I had struck oil. I knew they had surfaced in Lewistown.'
William Smith, production manager at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, said, 'There is no question there are pennies that have this doubled image,' and he said it is possible for one batch of coins to be shipped to a single area.
'If a lot from one press were put in the same bin, quite a few could tend to stay together in the bagging process,' Smith said.
'I found mine right up on my dresserin a shot glass full of about 30 pennies,' said Jeff Kelly. 'They were just pennies I had in my pocket. I don't have any idea where I got it at all.'
Foreman said, 'It's just the luck of the draw. They just wound up in Lewistown.'