With the recent mint error sale with Heritage Auctions, which was comprised of some 261 lots, it was interesting to see the prices the coins fetched. (Here is a link to the sale: https://coins.ha.com/c/search-results.zx?N=3183+790+231+4294944697&ic=Items-ClosedAuctions-Closed-BrowseCatalog-051914)
Many of the coins were on the high end, although there were some that sold cheaply. In fact, some coins we sell in our regular inventory stock sold for substantially at auction.
1.Collectors think they will get a better deal at auction than from a dealer. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes the coins that sell "cheap" are cheap for a reason--they have problems that might not be noticeable to the untrained eye, which is why they won the coin "for a steal!"
2.Collectors (and dealers) sometimes get carried away in "live bidding" environments, resulting in their paying more (sometimes multiples more) than the coin could be purchased from in a dealer's inventory.
3. Collectors will often frequent well-publicized auction events, see a coin, and bid it up thinking that the coin is worth the price. In a dealer's inventory, the same coin may be available at half the price, but because the dealer's website isn't regularly checked up on by the collector, they fail to realize the same coin is available at the lower price there.
4.Collectors sometimes think a coin is worth, for example, $1,000, and plan to bid that, but at the bidding rises to their valuation, and surpasses it, they think "if other people are willing to pay this, it must be worth more." This is almost always a bad idea, since all it takes is one uninformed bidder as one's competitor for the price to go "to the moon."
All these reasons are just my 2c, and you can get a good deal, but there are a number of pitfalls (including those just mentioned) to take into consideration when bidding in an auction.
So what can be said for the error sale? Well, most of the high end coins went for full price and then some. Some went for substantially more than I had thought they would bring. There were a few coins that fell through the cracks, but overall, the $2,000+ errors brought "all the money." It was surprising to see a number of coins sell for DOUBLE or TRIPLE what the price realized should have been! Proof errors were strong in the sale, with the off-metals and other misc proof errors bring very strong prices.
The "mid range" errors, in the $500-$2,000 range for the most part were strong as well. A few coins fell through the cracks, but overall strong prices.
For the lower priced market, under $500, some of the best deals were to be had, with some nice mint errors selling cheaply. However, many of the coins that are extremely common and worth about $10-$50 brought $100-$300! This is nuts, but it's what can happen in an auction environment!
So overall, my estimation of the sale was an "A" for prices--the error market is strong if judged by this sale.