Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 12:26

 Coin errors list - building a collection
      Above: Lincoln cent struck on scrap planchet. 

In the last part of this series on building an error coin collection, we discussed building a set by date and mintmark. While an interesting way to collect, some collectors like to have lots and lots of different errors in their collections, and an error type set is perfect for them. 


How to build a collection from Coin Errors list

To build an error type set you need to get an example of every error type known. This means you would get a single example of a die cap, off-metal, double-denomination, off-center, etc. The list would probably come out to be around a few hundred coins, but it could be more or less depending on how far you wanted to go with it. Most collectors would just opt for the more “basic” and well known error types, and not buy the minor errors that are not very visually interesting. 


There are two basic ways to build the type set. You can either pick a single series of coin, such as Lincoln cents, and then try to get an example of each error type within that series of coin, or you can get errors from any coin series, which would result in errors from probably all series of coins. Whichever you prefer is what you should do. Collectors who like to have a little more order to their collection, or who love a particular series of coin will probably want to do the “pick a single series” method, while collectors who love all coins and don’t really care if their collection looks as “orderly” will opt for the other method.

Coin errors list - building a collection
Above: Buffalo nickel struck off-center

A collection of this type does not have to be expensive either, since a collector could find affordable examples of every single error type out there. Even the most expensive error type, the “mule”, is inexpensive since you can buy one from another country for a few hundred dollars. Some of the most expensive errors would be the mule, off-metal, double-denomination, but as long as you didn’t try to get every single error type out there, most of the others are relatively inexpensive. Some of the toughest error coin types out there are not necessarily as expensive as they are rare. The dual missing clad layer, which is an error type where both of the nickel clad layers are missing and only the copper core remains, is one of the rarest error types, with probably 10-15 examples known for all denominations and series of U.S. Coins combined! Examples of that error type only cost as much as a nice off-metal, selling for around $1,200-$3,500 depending on the denomination and condition. 


What are some of the easiest coin series to build a type set from? I would recommend these if you want to have a lot of errors to choose from, and have the ability to complete your collection without busting the bank.



Easiest Coin Series for Type Sets


Type sets based on these coin series are the most attainable. 

-Lincoln memorial cents

-Jefferson nickels

-Roosevelt dimes 

-Washington quarters

-State Quarters


Difficult Series for Type Sets

For more of a challenge I would suggest these series, which although much more challenging, a fairly complete set is possible.

-Indian Cents

-Wheat Cents

-Buffalo Nickels

-Mercury Dimes

-Sacagawea Dollars

-Susan B. Anthony Dollars

-Eisenhower Dollars


Most of the other coin series are either rarely found with errors, or would be extremely difficult to get more than a small number of error types for their respective series. 

Coin errors list - building a collection
Above: Jefferson nickel struck on bow-tie planchet scrap.

In the next blog post, we will be moving on to part 3 of our series on how to build an error coin collection, so check back next tuesday. If you haven't read part#1 of this series, click here: blog post #1. Feel free to write me with questions or comments at: [email protected]



Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 07:24
Examine mint made errors

In buying and selling coins, we get to see a lot of mint errors--a ton of them in fact, from off-metals to off-centers, and everything in-between! This gives us a lot of insight into what error coins exist, their condition, and also lot of practice in determining authenticity and figuring out how any particular error coin was made. This is all made possible because we get to hold the coins in hand and closely examine them, and as said earlier, because we buy and sell a lot of errors (plus we see a lot of errors we don't buy at all.) So why do we bring this up? To make the point that the more coins you can see, the better off you will be in terms of building a high quality collection. Not being a dealer, this can be hard for many collectors to do, but there are ways to help get some good hands-on experience. Here are some ways you can get some "experience" without having to actually buy any coins.

Ways to Examine Mint Made Errors

Major Auctions

When you get a chance to attend a major auction, take the time to review all the mint errors in the sale, even the ones you aren't interested in buying. Look at them under a loupe, and think about how the error was made. Look at the coin's surfaces, and notice the subtle differences in the error. Review the grading services' description in the coin; did they note all the errors on the coin, or did they run out of room on , and left other errors unmentioned (that happens a lot in fact.) Look at the grade that was assigned--why was the coin given the grade it was assigned? Errors are graded generally much less strictly than non-error coins, and so it's good to understand that so that you don't overpay (or underpay) for and error based on grade.

Also, major auctions allow collectors a chance to see major errors that they wouldn't normally get a chance to spend 10 minutes reviewing--so take advantage of this great opportunity to see some major errors. 

Do you have a friend with an error collection? Take the time to get together with them, and take a good look at their coins. Look at the attribution, grade, authenticity, and surfaces of the coin. If you're one of the fortunate few who have access to one of the really major error collections our there, definetely spend all the time you can with reviewing those coins since some of those coins are doubtless unique or close to it. 

Auction Archives
Although this is not as good as in person viewing, online major auction sites often have excellent photos, and allow collectors the ability to see millions of dollars worth of error coins from their computer screens. Some sites include Heritage Auctions, Stacks/Bowers, Great Collections, eBay, and we have the Sullivan Numismatics archives as well. 

Coin Shows
Although dealers are often busy at coin shows, and may not have the time due to the busy nature of coin shows to allow you to physically look through their entire inventory (we can vouch for that!), you can simply through their display cases at the coins for sale, and get some good experience that way. Many dealers will have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of inventory at coin shows, giving a unique opportunity to see some rare mint errors. 

Buy Coins
This may seem obvious, but buying coins for your collection affords an opportunity to build your knowledge. Some collectors quickly look a coin over, then throw it into a slab box in a bank vault, and never really spend much time looking their coin over. Don't be that collector, but instead, take the time after buying a coin to carefuly review it, consider all it's attributes, and then put it away into your safe deposit box (or wherever you store your collection.) 

The more you know about error coins, the more your will appreciate your collection, and the better collection you will be able to build. Knowledge is key to building a good mint error collection, so learn all you can about errors, whenever you have the opportunity, by carefully considering all their attributes. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 11:46
Rare error coins market report

Over the last few years, the coin market as a whole has been very active, buoyed by increased demand from collectors, high precious metals prices, and perhaps even Covid-19's effect of giving people in general more "home time" and therefore more time to focus on singular pursuits such as coin collecting.

Whatever the reasons, the coin market has been hot across the board, from regular U.S. coins, to mint errors, to extreme numismatic rarities. All have seen increased prices in many segments, with rare error coins hitting millions of dollars at auction of late, and less valuable coins still selling for much more than they did 3 years ago. It's been amazing to watch the coin market over the last few years. Buyers are acquiring coins and generally holding on to them (making it difficult for sellers to buy anything.) Sellers are generally short on coins, and eagerly searching for quality material, and buyers are eagerly searching for coins and bidding against each other in auctions, driving prices even higher.

So is this a "bubble" in the market? Coin prices are driven by demand, and not by rarity, grade or anything else. Sure, those effect value when there is demand, but at the end of the day, coin's are only worth more than their face value because collectors compete with each other to acquire them, which pushes prices up. The coin market today has a lot of collectors chasing coins, and although some coins will doubtless drop in value in the near future, many will probably not because collectors are actually buying coins to put into their collections--they are buying coins because they want them, and that's unlikely to change in the long term. In other words, it is not (from what I can see) investors or speculators driving prices up, but simply collectors wanting coins for their collections. Prices are always going up and down, and right when prices seem to be "high", several years later we look back and say "boy, that coin was cheap back then!" or "I wish I wouldn't have waited for prices to drop, because it never happened." 

If collectors buy quality coins, pay fair prices based on whatever market they are buying in, and then "hold" their coins, they have a good chance at being happy with their purchases down the road both in terms of their enjoyment of their collection but also when they dispose of their collection one day. However, if a collectors is speculating, and is trying to sell a coin next year that they purchased this year, that would likely be a losing proposition. But if they are buying to hold, and are not selling their purchases for 10 or 20 years from now, in my estimation they have a good chance at making money or at the very least being happy with what their coins sell for. 

Areas of Error Coin Market

The hottest areas of the error coin market seem to be coins such as off-center strikes, double-denominations, truly rare mint errors (mules and the like), certain of the proof errors that have come on the market lately (although this is mixed--some are less due to the number of known examples changing with the recent accumulation(s) that have been dispersed onto the market, and it really is a coin by coin situation), off-metals, major double-strikes, mirror brockages, and really anything visually dramatic.

Weaker areas of the error coin market include series such as seated dimes, Liberty nickels, three cent nickels, and series such as these which, in fairness, have long lacked "strong demand" compared to more popular series such as Morgan dollars, Memorial cents, Washington quarters, and the like, but which generally have not kept up with increases in pricing that are seen in the more popular coin series. 

Some of these less popular series, as well as errors on coins such as pre-1965 silver coin errors, Susan B. Anthony dollars, 3 cent nickels or silvers, seated errors, bust errors, buffalo nickel errors, Roosevelt dimes are areas of opportunity where the series have seen little if any price appreciation as a whole, and so prices are perhaps "behind the times" in terms of increases in prices. Consider starting a mint error collection of these and you will have little competition, and more opportunities to acquire some great mint errors at relatively low prices. 

If you have any questions or need help tracking down mint errors for your collection, feel free to email: [email protected] 

NGC 1974-D Washington Quarter Deep Obverse Die Cap
NGC 1974-D Washington quarter deep obverse die cap. Dramatic errors such as this are in fairly high demand. 
1974-D Washington Quarter Obverse Die Cap (Reverse Photo)
Reverse Side of 1974-D Die Cap Quarter



NGC H10c 1858-O Seated Half Dime Broadstruck VG8
NGC H10c 1858-O Seated Half Dime Broadstruck VG8. Seated half dime errors are generally weaker demand, although a rare series for errors. A bargain in terms of their rarity to price. 
Thursday, May 12, 2022 - 06:34
2022 Central States and the Error Coin Market Sullivan Numismatics

A few weeks ago the Central States coin show was held in Schaumburg, IL. It was the first time the show had been held since the 2019 show was held, due to the events over the last few years. It was great to be back at the show, and especially since it was so well attended both with dealers and collectors. Admittedly, it has historically been a slower show for mint errors (although a great show for dealers in U.S. coins generally.) However, this year we had possibly the best Central States show we’ve ever had, with a decent amount of both buying and selling.


Attending shows in different parts of the United States brings a somewhat different group of dealers and collectors. Many dealers travel to all the major shows regardless of the location, but there are always some dealers who never make it to shows other than relatively local ones. Such is the case with Central States, and it was nice to see some of our local customers as well as dealers we do not see as often at other shows. Traveling to shows across the U.S. allows us a more broad opportunity to acquire mint errors, as well as to sell to customers, and so we try to attend shows from the West Coast to the East Coast. 


Recent major auctions have been overall quite strong. Prices for lower value pieces (under $500) has moderated somewhat (they were to the moon high prices over the last year or two) and are now much more in line with what historical pricing has been. Middle priced items in the $500-$5000 range are generally strong, with only certain error types or series not participating in the strong price trend. Scarce off-metals and the like have been going for solid prices most of the time. High end coins, in the $5,000+ category are also strong. Some of the prices we’ve seen of late have been moon money, while others are just selling for “full price.”


Overall, the market is strong for most mint errors, and although there are certain errors or types which are selling at more traditional, lower prices, probably 70% of coins are selling for strong prices in our opinion.


We do our best to keep prices at fair, moderate retail levels, and generally “ignore” prices that are aberrations from the average price trend for a particular error type of category. We price based upon a number of factors including:

1.Historical value

2.Auction prices realized

3.The cost to buy coins from any of our many sources

4.The particular coin’s attributes are all taken into consideration—is it the finest known, unique, or otherwise special—or on the flip side is it none of those things and might even have a problem or two, and so deserve a lower price than one would typically expect.


Accurate and fair pricing is something we continually strive for, and our goal is to always give our customers a good value. 


Our next coin show will be the Baltimore this June. If you are planning to attend the show, we looking forward to seeing you there! In the meantime, keep an eye out for new items being listed on our website over the coming weeks, and also if you have not yet signed up for our email list for mint errors, consider signing up so that you will get an email when we list fresh coins. 

Friday, February 19, 2021 - 11:12

As of mid February, 2021, we are happy to have recently been able to pick up a few collections as well as miscellaneous coins from other regular sources (dealers, auctions, and the like.) Really, we pretty well scour the market for coins that are good errors to then offer to you our customers. So what are some of the things we deal with or situations we find ourselves in as mint error buyers? Below are some of the more common areas that create a challenge.

Penny Mint Errors & Challenges


1967 Cent Curved Clipped-Penny mint errors buying guide
1967 Lincoln cent with a large curved clip. 

Quality Coins

What do we look for when looking for coins? First, the coin itself has to obviously be authentic and not have any problems that are not acceptable. Sometimes slabbed coins will have a problem, perhaps that developed after it was certified or which might have been missed by a grader, and so we either pass on those or buy them realizing we will need to sell them at a discount to our customers. Even though 3rd party grading services have good quality holders, the coin still need to be stored in such a way as to prevent them from corroding, developing ugly toning, and the like. This is because the holders are not truly airtight, even if they are excellent at preventing air transfer.


Also, sometimes (and this is very rare), a counterfeit coin makes its way into a 3rd party grading service’s holder. These are guaranteed by the major, reputable services, and the buyer of them will get a refund. However, it can of course be a headache going through the process, and so we can save our customers that hassle of buying a counterfeit. Additionally, if a certified coin is cracked out of its holder it will no longer have the services warranty, so a customer who bought a counterfeit and then cracked the coin out, perhaps to get it reholdered with a different grading service, would be in for a rude awakening when they realize they are out of luck getting that coin warranted by the grading service. Again, it is rare for a major grading service to certify a counterfeit error coin, but it has been known to occur, and is a headache and financial loss we at Sullivan Numismatics hope to help our customers avoid.

NGC 1968-S Cent on Dime Planchet Proof-Penny mint errors buying guide
Proof 1968-S Lincoln Cent on Dime Planchet PF67 Cameo 

Fair Values

Another thing we do is look for good values. Weeding out overpriced mint errors is a continual event. Even if an individual discounts a coin 20% off their asking price, that doesn’t mean we can buy it for inventory—many times (many, many times) the coin is price welled beyond what a fair retail price would be, so in order for it to be a fair value, it would need a 50% discount just to be a fair retail price! So finding fairly priced coins, and then on top of that coins that we can buy at a wholesale price is a challenge. At Sullivan Numismatics, our hope is to be able to sell our customers coins that are fairly priced. The reason for the wide variance in prices is not the dishonesty of sellers, but rather a lack of published price guides, and also that to properly price error coins, the best method is simply knowing the market for error coins by having handled a large array of mint errors, and see what they have sold for.


Raw Coin’s Authenticity

For raw coins (coins not in 3rd party holders), the challenge of authenticity becomes much more immediate. Most of the time, the coin itself is authentic, but was altered to make it look like an error. Usually, the coin is easily detected as being post mint damage, but sometimes it can be much more tricky to determine, and that is where we hope to be providing a good service to our customers since any coin we sell raw we guarantee to be an authentic error, so our reputation is attached to the raw coins we sell.


We will continue to work hard for our customers, and look forward to bringing the best inventory of penny mint errors we can find to our customers in the coming years!