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.
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.
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: [email protected] or (931)-797-4888