New Leaves Turning Up and Down on Wisconsin State Quarters

wisc25from The Centinel Spring 2005 Volume 53, No. 1
Written by Samuel Ernst, YN

I collect state quarters and I think they are really neat! Some collectors think the state quarter program is boring and a waste of time and money. Maybe now they will change their minds! Last December, a man in Tucson, Arizona, by the name of Bob Ford made a startling discovery. For 15 years, Mr. Ford has been going through coins from the bank looking for errors and varieties. On December 11th, while he was looking through some 2004-D Wisconsin quarters, he found “extra leaves” on the ears of corn on some of the coins. And he didn’t find just one kind of new leaf… he found two! (I am from Nebraska and we call them “husks,” but since everybody else is calling them “leaves,” I will too.)

One had an extra leaf up higher and closer to the ear of corn on the design. This one is called the “extra high or up leaf.” The other has an extra leaf that is lower and comes out from the ear of corn. This one is called the “extra low or down leaf.” Mr. Ford took the quarters to a coin dealer in Tucson, Rob Weiss of Old Pueblo Coin Exchange, to see if he had really found something neat, like a new variety. He had and things really started to happen!

On January 11th the Arizona Daily Star newspaper wrote an article about the extra leaves and over night people came from all over to Tucson to look for Wisconsin quarters with the extra leaves. Coin World printed an article about the “extra leaves” in their January 10th issue called, “Markings on quarter leave mystery.” In that article the writer, Eric von Klinger, said “…the appearances of the marks, appearing raised on the coins, are such that Coin World has asked the Mint, for the record, whether any design modifications were deliberately made.” They have written another article about the “extra leaves” in their January 24th issue, too.

While there are questions about what caused the “extra leaves,” there is no question that there are a lot about it. On the of people talking Collector’s Universe U.S. Coin Forum message boards, collectors and dealers have been wondering if the extra leaves were “die gouges, planchet defects, a hubbing accident or even an intentional added design element.” I am a YN, so I don’t really know about what all of that means yet, and even though I haven’t seen the coins in person, I do know the “extra leaves” really do look like leaves in the pictures I’ve seen.

Because of where the “High/Up and Low/Down” leaves show up on the design and because they really look like “leaves,” it looks like it wasn’t an accident. The “leaves” are in the right places on both varieties. They look just like leaves on an ear of corn, and they are on a coin that has an ear of corn on it. Wow! But because there isn’t a good reason for why the “extra leaves” are on the coins, it makes me wonder if it wasn’t an accident, though. It probably won’t matter to collectors how the extra leaves got there. I know it doesn’t matter to me. I just think they look cool.

Rick Snow, who owns Eagle Eye Rare Coins; Inc. of Tucson, wrote this in a post to the Collector’s Universe U.S. Coin Forum about how people are reacting in Tucson: “You have to realize that it’s like someone hid winning lottery tickets all over town.” After reading about the coins in Coin World I asked my grandparents, who live near Tucson to try and find some for me, but they couldn’t. They said one coin dealer, told them, that before the varieties were found, he was giving away free 2004 Wisconsin state quarters to anyone who brought in a can of food for a food drive. I wonder how many folks got “extra leaf” quarters that way?

After seeing the coins in person and taking some to the FUN show in Florida to have other dealers -and collectors look at the coins, Rick Snow has made up his mind that they are a true variety. In another, post on the Collector’s Universe U.S. Coin Forum he wrote: “To me as a variety specialist, I must say this is a cool naked eye variety. Much better than the 2004-DD nickels, and along the lines of the 1972-DD cents and other bold varieties. I feel certain that these will be collected alongside the state, quarter set.”

On their website, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), wrote a statement on January 21st about the Wisconsin quarters with the “extra leaves.” David Hall, PCGS founder and president, said: “This is a very important discovery. The ‘extra leaf’ Wisconsin quarters are the first major variety for the Statehood quarters. And they are very obvious varieties that are easily discernable to the naked eye… no microscope or imagination are necessary.”

PCGS also said, “While an official statement from the Mint regarding the design anomalies has not yet been made, speculation thus far that the marks are tool gouges in the die leaves one wondering. On the low position variety, the ‘die gouge’ is particularly large, shaped like a leaf, and in the exact position where one would expect an additional leaf to be. Even the high position variety, the gouge is suspiciously ‘leaf like.’ albeit less so than the other variety.”

I wrote an email to Q. David Bowers, of American Numismatic Rarities, asking him what he thought about the “extra leaves” on the Wisconsin state quarters. He wrote back to me and said, “While the exact cause of these varieties is not known at the moment, it seems to me that two different working dies were each engraved with an extra leaf, quite carefully and with good artistic effect. From a numismatic viewpoint, this has created varieties that are fascinating.”

So far, no other “extra leaves” Wisconsin quarters have been proved to be real anywhere else in the country other than Tucson or from any other Mint than Denver. It is estimated that there are only 2,000 “high leaf”‘ and 2,700 “low leaf”‘ coins that collectors and dealers in Tucson know about. Wow! A set of three Wisconsin quarters: one with a normal design, one with a “high/up” leaf and one with a “low/down” leaf would have cost a face value of 75-cents last December, if you were lucky enough to find them at a bank in Tucson. Now they are selling for hundreds of dollars!
No one still knows for sure if the “extra leaves” were made on purpose or are just a mistake that happened in the minting process. No one really knows if they are only going to be found in Tucson or in other areas of the country too. No one really knows how many more will turn up.

But one thing I know for sure is that they sure look neat and these “extra leaves” on the 2004-D Wisconsin state quarters is the neatest thing to happen to the state quarter series so far!