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Friday, April 19, 2019 - 07:55

We recently attended the ANA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which was from March 27th-30th. The spring ANA as it is often referred, is one of the historically slow "big shows" of the year. Dealer attendance tends to be on the light side, and perhaps corresponding to that, so does the public attendance. However, I've always enjoyed the Spring ANA show since it does give you more time to spend with dealers and customers alike. There's not the crazy rush of the Summer ANA or Winter FUN show, but is much more laid back, which can lead to interesting converstions and more time to really dig through other dealer's inventories to find good coins for our customers. 

This year, the ANA was pretty much all of what was just described. It was overall a slow show, with not a lot of activity, but we still managed to find a decent amount of quality inventory (most of which has already been listed on our website, seeing as this blog post is a few weeks late.) Some of it is still off at the grading services getting graded. There really was not a lot of error coins for sale at the show, and what few coins were in the auction went for super high money for the most part.

Any of the various auctions haven't been offering much in the way of error coins in the last 6 months or so, and what few coins have been offered, tend to sale for retail+ money. Perhaps it's the minimal number of lots that resulted in fiercer competition among bidders? But that pretty much pushes a coin dealer out, since if a coin isn't being offered at a wholesale price, there's no reason to buy it since you cannot retail a coin that you paid retail money for!

There were a few impressice error coins on exhibit at the show, including a red 1943 copper cent, and a nice AU 1944 steel cent (we have one of those in our inventory!) Also were the frequent guests of coin show exhibits, including an 1804 draped bust dollar, and a 1913 liberty nickel. Some other intereting exhibits were on display as well. Coin shows give local collectors the rare opportuntiy to see these historic and popular coins, so it's nice to see the ANA putting these coins on exhibit for collectors to see and appreciate (so often, coins simply sit in dusty drawers in museums, and really do not get shown to the public very often.)

After several days of buying and selling, we got back to our office on Monday, and sold a number of the coins we'd purchased fairly quickly (since we have a fairly large database of customers with want lists who are searching for particular mint errors, when the new coins comes in, they often sell very quickly.) Others get sold on our website, with our email alert subscribers getting first shot at this newly listed inventory--if you are not a subscriber, here is a link to sign up https://sullivannumismatics.com/e-mail-subscriptions 

Monday, March 4, 2019 - 12:54

The Baltimore coin show is just over, and we're back in our office working away at preparing for resale purchases from the show, as well as getting caught up on the regular backlog of customer orders, emails and other things that tend to get built up when we’re away at coin shows. 

 

Overall, we were pleased with the Baltimore show. We purchased a moderate but decent amount of fresh inventory for our customers. Some small groups of errors and some individual nice errors we were able to purchase, but overall there was not a lot of material available at the show this time. 

 

We sold a surprising amount of coins at the show, with a fairly large number of “holes” in our display of coins by the time the show was over. Some of our regular customers showed up, and we sold a number of 4-figure coins, as well as some less expensive errors. Unfortunately, due to limited space when traveling, we typically are only able to bring our more expensive inventory with us to shows since the bulky, less expensive material tends not to be brought. We do plan to start bringing a little more “affordable” coins to future coins as space permits, since young collectors need access to “entry level” error coins in order to get started in the hobby (and adults who are on a tighter budget.) 

 

Not a lot of collectors typically come to coin shows anymore (at least, compared to 10 years ago), and shows tend to bring in a small number of collectors and therefore become primarily “wholesale” events for coin dealers. This isn’t a bad thing, just the way coin shows are nowadays. Most coins are sold online, and collectors prefer buying coins form their armchair than getting in their car and spending the day looking through dealer’s coin cases for what they could more easily have found on their computer. But we are always glad to see our customers in person, and chat about errors and the hobby with them.

 

U.S. coin dealers all seemed to be having a good show overall—not super busy, just “good.” There really wasn’t a single dealer at the show that we met who were unhappy with the show, and all were selling and buying.

 

Our next show will the the ANA in Pittsburgh, PA at the end of this month. If you are in the area or are able to attend the show, we look forward to seeing you there. 

 

 

Saturday, February 23, 2019 - 12:15

Cracked planchet coins are a well known error type. They typically are found on nickel and copper coins, but also on silver coins on occasion, and very rarely on gold coins. We recently acquired an extremely rare and dramatic 1927 Saint Gaudens $20 gold piece, with a large crack extending across the coin from the 8 o'clock position to the center of the coin. The crack is separated about 1/4 inch into the coin (you can even see a little light through the coin if held up to a light source), and then simply extends inwards to the very center of the coin, with a "crack" visible on both sides of the coin to the center of Ms.Liberty. 

 

Although long cracks are actually fairly common on coin series such as Lincoln cents or similar low value coins, it is all but unheard of on U.S. gold coins to have a crack this large. This is because of the high quality standards applied in the manufacture of gold coins. Even the most minute errors resulted in the coin's being rejected and melted down before they were allowed to leave the Mint. Gold coins were typically examined individually by hand, and were weighed individually. This resulted in virtually no errors coming out for gold coins, and this is even more the case with large sized gold coins, such as this 1927 Saint Gaudens double-eagle. 

 

Even today, gold and silver coins are created with extreme care. Anything which effects the metal content or integrity is of utmost importance to the Mint. Gold and silver eagles, for example, never come with cracked planchets (and only very rarely with errors effecting their weight or metal.) As was true in the past is also true today—when the metal content is important, it is vital that the Mint do a near perfect job in manufacturing their precious metal coinage. 

 

When looking back over the last 200 odd years of U.S. Mint coin production, there are remarkably few gold errors. Most of what exists are small strike throughs, slag inclusions or minor laminations. Major errors on gold coins are rare, and the number of cracked planchet coins is minute, with probably no more than a handful known for all gold coin series’. The 1927 Saint Gaudens is the largest planchet crack we have seen so far on any U.S. gold coin. To view images of the coin, here is a link: https://sullivannumismatics.com/coin/ngc-20-1927-saint-gaudens-double-eagle-huge-cracked-planchet-ms64

Friday, February 15, 2019 - 07:05

Coin World just broke a story that another of the 1982-D Lincoln cent small date transitional off-metals have been found, bringing the known total to (2) examples. The new find is certified as NGC AU58, and is the same grade as the other known example, which was an AU58. The previously unique 1982-D sold for $18,800 in a Stacks auction in the summer of 2017. This new example was submitted, according to the Coin World article, by a major auction house, and so will likely be going to auction as well. Here is a link to the Coin World article: https://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/2019/02/ngc-confirms-second-bronze-1982-d-small-date-cent.html

The error occurs when there is a change in the metal content of a coin type. Leftover planchets from the earlier metal (in this case a 3.1 gram copper cent planchet) are accidentaly fed into a press striking the next generation of coins (in this case 2.5 gram zinc cent planchets), creating a coin with the prior years metal on the next metal year's coins. These are always rare, and there are no "common" transitional off-metals known on U.S. coins. Most have less than a dozen examples known for any particular metal change, and we aren't aware of any transitional off-metal with more than about 25 known examples. 

There are other known examples of transitional 1982/1983 cents, including:

-One or two 1983-D transitional copper cents.
-Probably seven or eight 1983 transitional copper cents.

All examples of transitional 1982 or 1983 copper cents typically sell for $10,000 to in excess of $20,000, depending on the grade, and if they are in an NGC or PCGS holder. In our opinion, it is important to buy them in one of these two 3rd party holders since some of the other grading services aren't as careful with making sure the coin's are actually transitional off-metals asopposed to simply being struck on overweight zinc cent planchets. For example, sometimes you have have a heavy zinc cent in 1983, which coin might weigh 3 grams. This would be within tolerance for a copper transitional 1983 cent. In such a case, the only way to be 100% sure the coin is copper and not simply a heavy zinc cent, is to do a non-destructive metal anaylsis, which will give the composition of the planchet, and thereby give an accurate attribution of the error. 

These are all being found in circulation (that we are aware of), making them a ripe area for Cherrypicker's to search for examples in their pocket change. Of course, the odds of finding them are very slim, but with enough searching, people are finding them. You would need to use a scale to identify them, since they are very similar in appearance to a normal "zinc" cent. A copper cent weighs 3.1 grams, whereas a zinc cent weighs 2.5 grams, making the difference in weight an easy diagnostic for the transitional off-metals. 

If you own one of these interesting coins, you have a rarity, and a coin which transitions the change in metals for the Lincoln cent. We have sold a small number of these, and they are always an interesting error to handle. 

Image: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions. (1983 Lincoln cent transitional off-metal.)
 

 

 

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 12:20

We recently attended the Long Beach Expo, which is a coin show helps three times a year in Long Beach, California, at the Long Beach Convention Center. This show was January 31st-Feb-2nd. The show is a show we attend fairly often in the past, and have made it a permanent fixture in our show schedule every year due to the oftentimes good business we are able to do at the show.

 

Although error coin collecting has largely moved online, and in-person local coin clubs, coin shows, and the like have become less popular in the last couple decades, coin shows at least will never go away. They are too important to the hobby, as they allow “online” dealers to interact with customers, fellow dealers, and also are useful venues for buying and selling coins (albeit more wholesale than resale most of the time.) We love coin shows, and look forward to them every few months. 

 

This Long Beach show was a good show for us. We bought and sold a lot of mint errors, and it was one of our best Long Beach shows on record, returning to our office with lots of coins to send off for certification and otherwise sell to our customers. 

 

It was a surprise to us how many retail customers we ran into at the show. Usually the Long Beach show is light on retail, but there were a number of our “regular” customers at the show, and also other “occasional buyers” who shows up and created a number of “empty slots” in our display cases. We also made a new customer, who was excited to begin his error collection—it’s always fun to start a new coin collection!

 

Although there were a small number of auction lots in the two auctions being held, most of the coins went for relatively high prices, and we were amazed to see some of the coins bring far in excess of what we would value them at. Perhaps because there were so few lots, collectors went a bit “overboard” in their bidding! This was also our observation at the last FUN show in January—the tiny number of lots on auction brought strong money. 

 

We will be offering some VERY nice mint errors in the coming month or so, including some major proof errors, off-metals, and a nice selection of state quarter missing clad layers. There are other coins as well—all are currently out being certified. 

 

In a few weeks we will be attending the Baltimore show, and then a month or so later the ANA in Pittsburgh. If you are attending either show, please be sure and stop by our table to chat about errors, or if you are looking to buy or sell. 

 

We hope everyone is having a great year, and if you have any error collecting needs, please let us know: jon@sullivannumismatics.com