by Frank M. Zapushek,

State quarters are hot and State quarter errors are even hotter. But many collectors are buying altered or counterfeit quarters for large sums of money. Don’t be one of these collectors?

I have received 62 State quarters with “Missing Clad Layer” errors for authentication. I have authenticated two. The other 60 were altered coins. Of these 60 coins, 8 were found in circulation by collectors and the other 52 were purchased. This means 52 collectors bought coins that have no value.

The AU 50, Denver Connecticut quarter shown above was purchased on eBay for $303.00 plus $3.40 shipping. Insurance was another $3.70 for a total of $310.10 This coin was missing the clad layer on the reverse.

The MS 63 Philadelphia Maryland quarter below was missing the obverse clad layer. It sold on eBay for $202.50 plus $3.20 shipping. Insurance was $3.70 for a total of $209.60.

Coins with missing clad layers are not easy to find. They are not rare, but they are not common. This is why they are in demand. Any time a coin is in demand, some people can get very creative when trying to supply the demand. Oh, by the way, they make lots of money along the way.

Now I will take you step by step on how I authenticate a missing clad layer.

First you weigh the coin on a gram scale. A clad quarter weighs 5.67 grams. Since most collectors do not have a gram scale that weighs to the hundredth gram, let’s just say 5.7 grams. Both these coins weighed 4.7 grams, which is the approximate weight for a quarter missing the clad layer.

Now we look at the design elements on the reverse side of the coin. (We use the reverse side because the obverse die is the hammer die. It applies the pressure to the reverse die.) The fine detail should be missing, lines in leafs will not show. As in the Maryland quarter, the fine detail on the light house are missing. Also, parts of the letters close to the rim should be weak or mushy.

Next we examine the surface of the side missing the clad layer carefully under a microscope at 30 power. The surface should be smooth, not rough or pitted. If the surface of the coin is pitted or rough, the clad layer was most likely removed with acid.

Now we examine the edge of the coin carefully. There should no clad showing anywhere on the rim. None, not at all, nothing, etc. There is no such thing. If the clad layer is missing, it is completely missing.

The next step in the authentication is the most difficult authentication. Clad layers can be removed from a coin after it leaves the Mint. One method that I have heard about is to solder a piece of wire onto the surface and left off the clay layer.

I placed a piece of leather on both sides of the coin. Placed the coin in a vice and soldered a piece of wire to the coin. I tried this on two coins and the clad layer could not be removed. Next I placed solder over most of the surface area of the coin and off came the clad layer.

After carefully examining the edge of the coin under 30 power, I could detect damage to the reeding on both sides of the coin. The damage was directly across both sides of the coin.

Coin authentication gets more difficult as the dishonest people get more creative. Careful and detailed examination of all coins is very important. Never forget the edge of the coin. It is the third side and sometimes can be the most important side of a coin.

Have a question, need an answer, drop me a line. Frank M. Zapushek PO Box 1993, Bloomington, IL. 61702. Or you can email me a Your question could be the next article. No charge for authentication or questions.