While Minnesota is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," its State Quarter may be on its way to becoming the "Quarter With 10,000 Die Varieties!" So far, there are at least 78 different reverse variety types noted for the Philadelphia Mint's issue of the 2005 Minnesota State Quarter. In addition, at least 8 different reverse types have been found for the Denver coins, and 4 types for the San Francisco Proof coins as collectors broaden their search for these profitable varieties.
Specimens of the strongest examples of these Minnesota Extra Tree Quarters have sold in the $100 to $200 range, with a PCGS slabbed Denver MS-67 example bringing nearly $800 on eBay recently! However, doubled die specimens that cannot be seen with an unaided eye sell for a dollar or two and are not graded by 1/3 party grading service. You can see that there is a wide spread in price when it comes to buying one error coins.
How to Recognize This Error Coin
Unfortunately, most of these die variety error coins cannot be recognized with the naked eye. Therefore, a magnifying glass or loupe must be used. First, turn the coin over to its reverse and put it under a quality light. Using your magnifying glass or loupe, look at the area near the center of the coin. You will notice that there is a boat positioned in front of a line of trees. Just to the right of the outline of the state of Minnesota, there are three trees with the rightmost tree being the smallest one. Look in the area just to the right of the smallest tree to see if there are a small series of lumps. If so, then this is one of the "Extra Tree" die variety coins.
Most varieties found on the Minnesota State quarter are so minute that it requires a magnifying glass of at least 10X to be able to see it. For example, it may be a small lump to a tree. If you are not extremely familiar with the design of the Minnesota State quarter, you would not know this is abnormal. Therefore, these small insignificant varieties sell for a dollar or two if they are not encapsulated by a third-party grading company.
However, a large variation that is visible to the naked eye and is obviously out of place, can lead to large premiums being paid for the coin. If the coin is in near perfect condition (greater than MS-66) these coins will bring a large premium and may cost upwards of $100 if slabbed by a reputable third-party grading company.
Other Die Varieties
In addition to the Minnesota State quarter die variety described above, there are several other varieties that exist. In order to recognize these, you will also need a magnifying glass or loupe and a quality light. Another popular variety of this coin is where there appears to be another tree between the smallest tree near the center of the coin and the next largest tree positioned on top of the rocks. On a normal coin, this area should be blank and not have an additional tree.
The most difficult doubled die error to recognize is the doubling of individual trees. For example, if you inspect the smallest tree near the center of the coin and it appears to have a shadow to the right side of the tree, this is also considered a doubled die coins. Additionally, look at all the trees to see if any of them have what appears to be shadows.
More Minnesota State Quarter Errors
As if all of these reverse varieties aren't enough, an obverse "doubled ear" variety has recently been reported from the Philadelphia Mint, according to error and variety coin specialist Ken Potter. Ken lists all of the known Minnesota State Quarter varieties, including his awesome close-up photos of each type, on his Web page devoted to the Minnesota Quarter.