July 2015

Building an Error Coin Collection Part #4
Post date: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 09:41


In the previous blog post we discussed building an error collection based on a single coin series. In this installment we are moving on to the method of collecting I will call “what catches my eye.” These collectors build there collections based on what looks neat, dramatic, or just interesting to them. It has no real method to it other than that the owner finds the coin pleasing. Often times, this kind of collection will have a lot of very dramatic and eye-catching errors, or it may just have a lot of rare, expensive errors in it. The objective of the set is to get eye-catching, dramatic and desirable error coins.


To build this collection, you should consider your budget, and decide what you want to spend per coin. If your budget is $500 a coin, that will build a very nice collection with some more rare errors in the set. If your budget is $50 per coin, you can still have a very nice collection, but it will be filled with common errors. Now go and browse error dealer’s inventories and get a feel for what you’d be able to buy and if you want to specialize your collection in some way. For example, you may wish to buy wild multi-strike errors, or perhaps you’ll want to buy bonded errors. Whatever you wish to do is totally up to you, but you should collect in a way that makes you excited to think of adding that “next coin” to your collection.


Some of the most eye-catching errors include the coin types below. Click on the links provided to see examples of those error types in our inventory.


bonded coins

off-center strikes




coins struck feeder fingers

coin's struck on nails 


There are many more, but those are some of the most popular in terms of being dramatic. Because coins in these error categories are usually very eye-catching, they also are easier to resell when the time comes to sell your collection.

Above: This is a Lincoln cent struck on a steel washer. The coin is extremely 
dramatic, and is the kind of coin for a "eye-catching" collection.

Above: this is an off-center standing liberty quarter. A rare series for error coin
and an error like this is considered extremely dramatic for the SLQ series.


Above: this is a relatively inexpensive (about $275) off-metal. Nickels on cents
look dramatic, and are a very popular error type with collectors who want 
"eye-catching" errors for their collections.



Building an Error Collection Part #3
Post date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 07:51

Above: Lincoln Cents are a very popular series for 

building an error coin collection.


In part# 3 of our series on building an error coin collection, we are going to discuss collecting errors on a single series of coins. This type of collection is for the collector who loves error coins, but also has a “favorite coin series”, and so putting the two interests together makes for a fantastic way for them to collect errors.


To build an error collection based on a single coin series, the first thing to do is pick a series of coins your love. This might be Lincoln cents or Franklin Halves or Morgan dollars. Whatever series you love, you should probably choose that series, however, there are some coins series that are extremely rare with errors on them, and so they do not lend themselves well to error collecting as a series. Here are some of the series which are rarely found with errors:


Coins Series Rarely Found with Errors

-Proof coins 

-Comemmorative coins

-Any gold coins

-Any silver or gold coins prior to about 1878

-Walking halves

-Barber halves

-Barber quarters

-Standing quarters

-Shield Nickels

-2c Pieces

-Flying Eagle Cents


While there are errors coins known on all series of U.S. Coins, the series mentioned above are so rare that collectors will almost never find anything to buy (except for minor errors such as strike throughs, clips, etc), and often times when they do, the coins will be expensive. An error coin collection based on those series can be done, but it takes a large budget, and most of all patience. Any other series of coin would be doable at some level, although the series’ which are the easiest and have the most variety of errors include all coins currently in circulation, from cents to dollar coins.


Once you’ve picked a coin series, you should then start making a list as you buy coins, noting the date, mintmark, grade, and error type, that way when you’re at coin shows you’ll know if you have a “die cap” or a “split planchet”, etc. It’s best to start immediately, otherwise you’ll have 50 errors in your collection and you wont be able to remember what all error types you have. Some collectors will buy any error type they don’t have, as well as any date/mint mark of that error type missing from their collection. This makes for a massive error coin collection, which will never be “completed”, but it also will be amazing to look at in terms of the variety and scope of errors in the set. 


Above: Buy coins slabbed with reputable grading services. Check with experts

you know to find out which are the best.


Next, you’ll want to decide on the grade and if you require the coins to be certified or not. For coins over $1,000 in value, it is recommended you buy slabbed coins when possible since there are some counterfeits out there, and getting your coins certified will also give you some recourse if the coin turned out to be counterfeit or have some other problem. Between Chinese counterfeiting, old counterfeits from decades ago, as well as some very high quality modern counterfeits there are enough “bad” coins out there that you should buy slabbed coin in a reputable grading service holder.


In the next article we will be discussing collecting errors that are “eye-catching.” Feel free to write me with questions or comments at: jon@sullivannumismatics.com




Building an Error Coin Collection Part #2
Post date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 12:26

      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. 


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.

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 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. 

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: jon@sullivannumismatics.com



Building an Error Coin Collection Part #1
Post date: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - 13:16



1921-D Morgan Dollar Off-Center Strike Error Coin.jpg

Above: A 1921-D Morgan Dollar Struck 15% Off-Center


Error collectors build their collections in all different ways according to their personal preferences. Some like to build type sets, others collect by date and mintmark, while others just buy what catches their fancy. None of these are right or wrong, and what you collect should be determined by what you enjoy the most. Over the next few weeks I will be examining collecting methods, and how you can go about building your own error collection.



Lincoln cent with partial brockage error coin.jpg

Above: A Lincoln cent with a partial brockage


Collecting by Date and Mintmark

This type of collection is based on the idea of getting an example of a certain error type for every date and mintmark of particular coin series. So for example, a collector might buy an off-center Jefferson nickel for every date and mintmark from 1938-present. Or he might buy a cent with a partial brockage for all memorial cents from 1959-present. A more challenging set would be to build a set of off-metal Lincoln cents on dime planchets from 1959-present. The point of the set is to "plug the holes" with a particular error type. 


Sets put together in this manner are challenging, since there are always a few “key date” error coins in the series, but most of the time you can get at least 80-90% of the dates/mints, with the last 10-20% being a real challenge. Obviously the more common the error type, the easier it will be (e.g struck through grease, small clips, etc), but without the challenge it really would be very fun so you should pick an error type which will present something of a challenge. The good thing is that often times the key dates aren’t that much more expensive than the common dates because most people have no idea what dates/mints are rare, unless of course you’re buying from an error dealer in which case they may (or may not!) know how rare the date/mint is. When you’re done with your set, you’ll probably know more about how rare the dates/mints are for that error type than anyone else out there.


One of the neatest error collections of this kind I’ve ever seen was a nearly complete set of cent on dime double-denominations, which contained most of the dates/mints from 1959-2003. Now that’s a tough set! Even though a collection like that would take decades to complete, that is part of the fun. The difficulty in completing the set would mean less drain to your wallet, since you wouldn’t find coins for your collection very often. It's also a collection which you will never grow tired of. There are likely only a few other people out there who are seriously working on the same set you are, and so the competition is usually quite minimal. 



Philippine Off-Center Nickel Error Coin.jpg
     Above: A 1945-S Philippine 5 Centavoes Struck Off-Center. 


So to build an error collection by date and mintmark, pick a coin series you like, then pick an error type you like. Now you job will be to find that error type for every date and mintmark of that coin. If you want to make the set less expensive or easier, you can also opt to just build your collection by date, but not mintmark. This is substantially easier, and would cost only about 1/4 the cost of a set which included mintmarks. Either way is up to you, and neither way is "right or wrong." 


In the installment next week, I will be discussing building a type set of errors, so stay tuned. Have any questions? Feel free to call or email Jon at: jon@sullivannumismatics.com or (931)-797-4888