Monday, January 10, 2022 - 08:20



FUN Coin Show 2022


It was a great FUN show 2022. From the beginning of the show on dealer day on Wednesday through the end of the show Saturday, sales were brisk and purchases were good as well. Although we have not done a final tally, it was probably our best FUN show for sales ever, with both wholesale and retail activity strong. Collectors came into the show looking to buy coins, and the had the money to do it. Dealers need to restock (including us) and so purchases from the public and amongst dealers were strong as well.


Although some dealers did not make it to the show due to various concerns ranging from Covid to flight delays, it really didn’t feel like almost anyone was missing from the show, since probably 95% of dealer did show up and collectors came in strong as well. There was the “buzz” about the show floor all week. Every dealer we talked to was having a “average’ to “incredible” show, and no one had a bad show that we are aware of.


There were a number of mint errors on auction, including an incredible 1886 Morgan dollar obverse die cap, which is the finest known of the 2 known Morgan dollar die caps (and more importantly, is arguably the most dramatic Morgan dollar error in existence), and was auctioned off for $160,312.50. We had estimated it would sell for $125,000 to $150,000, so a bit stronger than the “high end” of our estimate, and a solid number which shows that demand for high end, dramatic mint errors is high.


Other errors on auction leading up to the show included a mix of major errors, proof errors, as well as a lot of cheaper more common errors. Overall, results were average to strong for the majority, with notable strength in some of the more “special” errors selling for average to strong prices (a high grade 2c die cap sold for an incredible $45,000, for example, which is a lot more than we would’ve estimated.) A unique 1866 2c on cent sold or some $18,000, which is about what we would have estimated it to sell for (our estimate was more around $20,000.)


Some of the proof errors were strong, selling for double what we would’ve estimated on some of the more unusual pieces, while the more “common” examples (proof Kennedy half off-centers, proof wrong planchets of the more common types, etc) were in some cases weaker, reflecting the surge of proof errors on the market in the last several years diluting the values of the more common pieces. Still, prices for all the proof error coins were generally average to strong.


An excellent start to the year for numismatics, and we are excited for what the year will bring to the hobby. If you want to start the year off right, we would suggest joining some of the coin clubs such as the ANA, CONECA, as well as the specialty clubs focused on various individual series such as the Fly In Club or the CWTS.  Here is a handy link to some of the clubs mentioned:

The Sullivan Numismatics booth at the FUN show 2022
The Sullivan Numismatics booth at the FUN show 2022


Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - 06:00

(Shown above: NGC 50c 1964 kennedy half transitional on clad quarter planchet MS64)

Transitional off-metals are not something you would necessarily expected to find in circulation, but this lucky collector did, as detailed in the Coin World article shown below. A transitional off-metal is an error type involving a change in coin metals for a coin design, and occurs when a planchet made up of the old planchet metal is struck by dies intended for the new planchet material. An example would be a 1965 quarter (which should strike clad planchets) striking a 90% silver planchet (a planchet which stopped being used in 1964.) 

Here are a few examples in our inventory of transitional off-metals:



We have heard of a number of collectors over the years finding rare transitional off-metals. This happens because of a few reasons, including that the planchets they are struck on are typically very close to normal weight, are the correct diameter, and so are able to escape the Mint's riddler's and quality controls. Additionally, they are often more or less the same visual appearance as a normal coin (for example, this 1977-D 40% silver Kennedy half is almost the same exact "color" as a normal 1977-D clad Kennedy--and so it is less likely to be noticed and pulled from circulation quickly.)

Additionally, it is an error that is likely to occur at some level whenever a new metal is used for a coin type, because there is a shift from the old to the new, and leftover planchets have to be all completely removed from the press and planchet bins, otherwise they will be fed into the press that is set up for striking the new metal type and a transitional off-metal will occur, and for the aforementioned reasons, will likely make it out of the Mint without getting caught. 

The same is true of the 1983 transitional off-metal cents, which are 1983 cents struck on the bronze 3.1 gram planchet instead of the correct planchet, which is a copper coated zinc planchet weighing 2.5 grams.

Keep an eye out for transitional off-metals, because they are found from time to time. 

Below is the article by Coin World's Paul Gilkes on the discovery of the 1977-D transitional.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - 07:40

There is a newly discovered mint error 2021-W quarter ounce gold American Eagle, struck with unfinished dies! PCGS just certified a number of examples. The 2021-W date/mintmark combination is only used for striking proof gold 1/4 eagles, but these discovery pieces have business strike surfaces. Some 60+ pieces were discovered by the discoverer, Gerald Medel, upon searching thousands of 1/4 gold coins (see article link below for more details.) 

An error of this type would have occurred do to a skipped step in the die production process. When the blank piece of die still was put into a hubbing press and impressed with the quarter ounce American Eagle gold design, it would at that point only have had business strike surfaces.

However, in order to give it surfaces for striking proof coins, it would then receive a treatment process (polishing, laser etching, etc) that would give the die's business strike die fields, the frosted devices and mirrored fields so that it could then be used for striking proofs.

Instead, this die pair missed that step entirely, resulting in a die with the 2021-W date and mintmark, but with business strike fields instead of proof fields.

Doubtless, because the die pair then had "business strike surfaces", a press worker accidentally used the die pair for striking regular, business strike bullion coins, unaware that the obverse die had the "2021-W" date and mintmark combination that is reserved for the proof only issues. 

This error type also happened in 1999 for some of the 1/10 and 1/4 ounce gold 1999-W American Eagle issues. Some 6,000 or so of each coin were struck with unfinished proof dies, resulting in a coin with the dies of a proof coin, but the "finish" of a business strike. 

A fascinating new mint error, and one to watch out for as collectors and dealers process their new 2021 1/4 T-2 gold American eagle coins. Doubtless more are waiting to be found. 

Below is the link to PCGS's article about the coins, which provides more information.

(Image Courtesy Todd Pollock)

Monday, October 11, 2021 - 13:32
Error Money -Trends in error coin market

We’ve said it a number of times in the latest blog posts, but the error coin market is hot as a whole. Recent auction results among some of the large auction firms showed strong prices on most of the mint errors sold. Yes, some fell through the cracks, but we were impressed with the results as a whole. Everything from common off-center cents to major proof errors all, as a whole, fetched strong prices. Off-metal cents on dimes, double-strikes, off-metals, cuds, clips--it's all hot right now!

Latest Happenings in the Error Money Market

So what is happening in the error coin market right now? We’ve noticed a large increase in activity in the error money market, and also observed it in the regular U.S. coin market of late. This is probably due to a number of factors, the largest being the reopening of the economy, with coin shows (larger ones) finally being open once again. The reopening of the economy in general is giving collectors and dealer the confidence to step back into the coin market in a big way, and the strong bullion prices have also buoyed the coin market, putting money into both collectors and dealers’ pockets. We think this trend will not abate anytime soon.


As soon as the FUN show occurred this last July, coin activity reached another level of growth. Every month since, it seems to have gotten hotter and hotter, and auctions seem to be getting higher and stronger prices. This is due we believe for the reasons already stated, but also because dealers are having trouble restocking since they entered this year with thin, low inventory levels, and yet demand is high, and so they also are buying material often at top dollar, bidding up auctions, which further feeds the cycle of increasing prices. Collectors are also hungry for coins, and so they are competing against other collectors but also dealers. 


In the frenzy of the market, do not get caught up overpaying for material. If a coin looks way too high, it is. Yes, paying for “good coins” is always something that has to be done, but even cheap errors have been selling for “moon money” in auctions. Some dealers have dramatically raised prices after seeing the prices realized in some of these sales. The problem (or reality check) is that those same error coins, which the dealer might be pricing at $500 because an auction result was $500, can be had from another coin dealer for “normal” pricing any day of the week for $250. Again, do not get caught up in the hype (and there is a lot of hype in the prices right now.) Recent auction prices realized are not indicative for pricing a coin except for a snapshot in time (this year.) We do not think it is part of a  broad, multi-year price gain, but a single, fast surge in prices that will abate once the economy has been fully "reopened" for a few months or a year. Until then, look for prices to remain elevated. That's our best guess. 


We are always working on getting fresh material in, and will be offering it as it comes in—it’s a challenge however, and it takes many, many hours every week of scouring the marketplace to find good material at reasonable prices. Let us know if you need help finding any errors, and will do our best to find them for you. Our next show is the Baltimore coin show in mid-November. It promises to be an excellent show, and if it's like the last few coin shows, will be very busy and heavily attended!


Monday, August 23, 2021 - 07:50

The ANA Worlds Fair of Money in Rosemont, IL ended a few weeks ago. It was a blow-out of a coin show, with lots of activity both in buying and selling—particularly in selling. We were surprised at how active the buyers were, and we sold a number of coins in 4 figures as well as coins in the under $1,000 price range. Although our total sales were still a relatively small number, at least compared to dealers’ in non-error U.S. coins, who sell often hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of coins at a coin show, we were surprised at how many error sales we had. Most of the time, not a lot of error collectors make it to coin shows, being spread out across the U.S. as they are, and so naturally sales are low. But at this show, sales were hotter than we expected.

Sullivan Numismatics Booth







(Above) Sullivan Numismatics Booth

Additionally, buying was pretty good, although we had more trouble than usual acquiring inventory relative to past years. Collectors and dealers are more in the “acquiring” frame of mind than they are in the selling. Both often hold out for the top dollar, and if they can’t get it, coins often keep them or they go to auction where many will sell for many multiples of what they are worth, with only some coins falling through the cracks (which we try to purchase!)

Some collectors opt to buy out of major auctions with mixed results. It’s always difficult when a customer shows us an error coin they paid twice (or more) what it was worth in an auction, and are asking “did I get a good deal?” We answer honestly of course, but in a market where many coins have gone the auction route during Covid lockdowns, etc, the competitive nature of auctions often makes the coins sale for far more than they are worth, unfortunately. If you do seek a coin in an auction, we do offer mint error coin consultations for reasonable fees around 5% of the hammer price. Getting good advice on rarity, value, and condition of a coin makes this a bargain in our opinion. Contact us for more information on our auction consultation service.

Auction Lot Viewing








At the coin show, dealers in U.S. coins had phenomenal levels of activity with every dealer we talked to saying they had a good show, and many saying they had record or near record good shows. There is lots of enthusiasm and activity in the coin market based on this and the prior coin shows.

Some of the hottest areas of the error market include older type errors, such as Morgan dollars, the Barber and seated coin series, buffalo nickels and Mercury dimes, Indian cent errors, and other popular designs. Also, modern major errors that are business strikes (non proof) are generally hot with some exceptions. Major striking errors, off-metals, and visual errors are popular. State quarter errors have had a surge of interest for truly rare as well as visually exciting errors. Areas of weakness including proof errors in the 1960’s-1970’s era for the most part, as well as double-denominations of the more expensive types (over $2,500.) Part of this weakness in proof errors is due to the larger numbers of proof errors that have come on the market in the last number of years. Prices on them will likely be all over the place for years to come, but once it settles down the rarer pieces will move back up in price and the more common pieces will not in our estimation. Be careful overpaying for them, but at the same time, when a lot of a particular coin type comes on the market historically, there will be both winners and losers at the end of the day, so opportunity also presents itself.

We look forward to our next coin how in Baltimore, Maryland in a few months. In the meantime, we look forward to helping out our customers through our website and email. Look for a lot of fresh mint error material coming to our website in the coming weeks.