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Mint Sport

Mint Sport.  An enigmatic numismatic item which can only be explained as an object created by mint personnel for their own amusement or diversion. A mint sport can be something of utmost curiosity, of the most beguiling dilemma or perplexing uncertainty. Often they are termed by the unenlightened as mint errors. But a knowledge of mint technology would help determine when an object is a bona fide error and when it is someone “playing around with the equipment.” Any worker in a mintengraver, diesinker, pressman or finisher – could create such an object, as it can originate at most any step of the minting process, or include several steps.

Mint sports can be most frivolous – as, say, placing a gold coin between the dies striking a common sports relay medal. On the other hand, they can be so complex and detailed they would be classed as a fantasy coin.

Illustrated is a mint sport from the author’s collection which is a struck piece from a die in which a diesinker passed time by sinking letter punches (perhaps to improve his skill in following a bowed base line). He ran through three alphabets creating the die that struck this object.

Numismatist Kenneth Bressett suggests this term seems to have originated in the Orient and usually refers to Chinese coins. In Russia the term ‘novodel’ is used for similar items. In the U.S. they are often attributed to ‘midnight minters.'    

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


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