There are euro coins with a very particular position of the stars that make these pieces worth a small fortune. And they are not even mint error coins. Our author numiscontrol explains which types of these coins exist and what they are worth. And, above all, where you can find these treasures!
A Common Reverse Design
The reverse design of all euro coins – from the 1 cent piece to the 2 euro coin – had been finalized as early as in 1997 by the Belgian artist Luc Luycx. From then on, only minor changes were made. For example, the previously planned latent image disappeared on the 1 and 2 euro coins. A replica of this design can still be seen on a bank building in Berlin. The design of the reverse is precisely regulated for all countries of the monetary union.
National Obverse Designs
In the course of the introduction of the Euro in Germany, it was already discussed before 1997 what national motifs should be featured on the new currency. When the common reverse design and all technical characteristics of the circulation coins had been determined, first patterns were minted. Previously, the oak branch (1 cent to 5 cents), the Brandenburg Gate (10 cents to 50 cents) and the federal eagle (1 euro and 2 euros) had been selected from the submitted designs. The edge inscription should continue to read “EINIGKEIT UND RECHT UND FREIHEIT”.
The issuing nation can choose a design for the obverse. They can also decide for themselves where to put the year or a mint mark. The only thing they have to adhere to is the position of the twelve stars of the European flag. And there were some additional recommendations made by the European Commission that the countries were asked to take into account. For example, it was recommended to use figurative motifs without a reference to the respective state. However, only Belgium, Germany, Finland and Greece followed this recommendation.
Why Are there Issues With a Different Position of the Stars?
My research goes back to the year 1997. During that time, the preparations for the minting of German euro coins were in full swing. Some things related to the minting process were still experimented with. The official start of euro coin production was in late August 1998. In general, in 1998 all obverse designs of German euro coins featured “turning” (radially arranged) stars. This means, that all dies of the five German mints that were necessary for producing the coins featured also stars positioned in that way. How and why this came about is unknown. What we do know is that the actual minting of a coin is only the last step in a long process. The designs had certainly been submitted to the European Commission beforehand. But nobody noticed the position of the stars before the coins were minted. Another interesting fact is that Germany issued numerous advertising brochures and information leaflets as well as posters for the introduction of the Euro – and all German euro coins depicted featured “turning” stars. These publications were issued by the German government’s Aktionsgemeinschaft Euro, the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology, the European Commission and the European Parliament. Here, too, no one noticed anything! Even coin catalogues of 2000 still depicted the planned German euro circulation coins with radially arranged stars.
Coins with “Turning” Stars Aren’t Mint Error Coins!
A coin is called a mint error coin when an unintentional change in the coin design occurs during the minting process. The reason for that can be, for example, a punching error or a die crack. But in the case of coins with “turning” stars, the intended design was struck on the coin without any kind of mint-made error. The minting equipment (dies) had already been made and reproduced with “turning” stars. Thus, no error occurred during the minting process. Therefore, the coins cannot be classified as “mint error coins”. It would also make no sense to describe all coins as “patterns”, since the pieces can be easily distinguished from each other. The label “zero series” is also incorrect as these are officially minted coins. One rather has to examine every piece and its features individually and assign it to the corresponding category. Regarding coins between 1 cent and 1 euro this is quite easy to do. Only in the case of 2 euro coins there are some interesting peculiarities.
Different 2 Euro Pieces with “Turning” Stars
2 euro pieces with “turning” stars can be divided into three groups:
Coins with radially arranged stars without year and mint mark. Overlapping edge inscription. They usually read „[EINI]GKEIT UND RECHT UND FRE[IT]”. They were minted with the same tool as the 2nd issue of the 5 marks coin (Jaeger 415). As the diameter of the 5 marks piece was 29.00 mm and the diameter of a 2 euro coin is 25.75 mm, an overlap occurred. It is not always possible to identify the mint that produced the coin. The ridged edge was created during the minting process. I think such a coin should be classified as Pattern 1 because they were created during the initial phase of the preparations for the 2 euro coins. There is evidence that the issuers still experimented with the typeface and the design of the obverse (cf. examination report of the Deutsche Bundesbank of 2002). These pieces were probably minted before 1998. Prices from mints A and F have been found in circulation.
Coins with radially arranged stars without year and mint mark. Normal edge inscription without overlap. They read “EINIGKEIT UND RECHT UND FREIHEIT”. The tools for normal 2 euro coins were used. The mint can be identified. The ridged edge was created during the minting process. Such a coin should be classified as Pattern 2. The edge inscription has already the font and shape that was to be used in the future. However, the design of the obverse (year and mint mark) isn’t final yet. These pieces were probably minted before 1998. Only pieces from mint A have been found in circulation.
Coins with radially arranged stars with year and mint mark (A, D, F, G and J). Normal edge inscription without overlap. They read “EINIGKEIT UND RECHT UND FREIHEIT”. The tools for normal 2 euro coins were used. The mint can be identified. The ridged edge was created during the minting process. Such a coin should be classified as First Strike. Edge inscription, year and mint mark are at the usual location. The thing that makes these coins different from later issues is the position of the stars. These pieces were minted from 1998 onwards. No coin of this type has been found in circulation yet.
Authentic Coins That Can Be Used As Legal Tender
When production was stopped and only restarted after the error had been corrected, some coins (we don’t know how many) with the incorrect position of the stars were not cancelled by means of rollers. Immediately after the introduction of the Euro in 2002, the first coins were found in circulation. These coins are still legal tender and can be used just like normal euro coins. Pieces that were cancelled by means of rollers are not valid anymore. However, these pieces can also still be found in circulation.
Extremely Popular at Numismatic Auctions
Such coins are popular and expensive. At numismatic auctions, there are usually sold for more than a thousand euros. Many of these rare pieces have already been sold at auctions of the well-known Tempelhofer Münzenhaus Senger in Berlin. I have compiled a list with some examples.
- 134th auction 10 November 2011: Lot No. 1185, Germany, 2 Euro pattern, n.d., no mint mark, radially arranged stars, edge inscription of the 5 DM coin (Jaeger 415). Extremely rare, extremely fine/mint state. Starting price: 1,000 euros. Hammer price: 3,200 euros.
- 137th auction 15 and 16 November 2012: Lot No. 1008, Germany, 5 cents 2002 A. Mint error coin with radially arranged stars, not cancelled, light patina/extremely fine. Starting price: 800 euros. Hammer price: 2,800 euros.
- 150th Auction 20 May 2016: Lot No. 5070, Germany, 2 euro pattern, n.d., without mint mark. Mint error coin with radially arranged stars, not cancelled, not overlapping edge inscription: EINIGKEIT UND RECHT UND FREIHEIT with federal eagle. Starting price: 2,000 euros. Hammer price: 3,750 euros.
- 154th auction 18 and 19 May 2017: Lot No. 2035, 20 cents 2002 A. Coin with radially arranged stars, not cancelled, 5.72 grams, extremely fine. Starting price: 2,500 euros. Hammer price: 5,250 euros.
- 156th auction 17 and 18 May 2018: Lot No. 1612, 1 Euro 2002 A. Pattern with radially arranged stars, not cancelled, 7.53 grams, minor edge error extremely fine. Starting price: 750 euros. Hammer price: 1,850 euros.
- 156th auction 17 and 18 May 2018: Lot No. 1613, 2 euro pattern, n.d., without mint mark. Mint error coin with radially arranged stars, not cancelled, edge inscription: EINIGKEIT UND RECHT UND FREIHEIT, not overlapping edge inscription, with federal eagle, extremely fine/mint state. Starting price: 2,500 euros. Hammer price: 2,800.
- 157th auction 8 and 9 November 2018: Lot No. 897, 50 cents 2002 A. Pattern with radially arranged stars, not cancelled, 8.2 grams, extremely fine. Starting price: 1,000 euros. Hammer price: 2,100 euros.
Looking For Them Is Always Worth It
If you get your hands on German euro coins, what stops you from searching them for these treasures? It will cost you nothing except a little time. If you’re living in the euro area, just check if there’s something in your change as soon as you get it in the grocery store. Train your eyes to look for “turning” stars. And once you find one of these coins, the trouble was truly worth it. Believe me, after some time you will certainly get enthusiastic about hunting for treasures in your change. My philosophy is:
All those who have already been lucky enough to find such a rare coin can unfortunately never experience that joy again and are actually to be pitied. We, however, can still look forward to experience that joy!
Don’t you want to have a look at the coins in your wallet right now?
Are you looking for euro coins of other countries? In this article, numiscontrol explains how to find euro coins of other countries in circulation money.
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