Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 11:01

A pair of the rare and popular 1943 copper cents were recently discovered, and certified by NGC. The coins are worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars each, and are a remarkable discovery! 1943 copper cents are the most valuable mint error for U.S. coins, with the 1943-D being the most valuable of them all. These are not worth as much as the 1943-D, but are still likely to bring well over $250,000 each, for a combined value of $500,000 or more. 

We are told these will go on auction over the coming year.

Read about them in the link below:

Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 15:34



The year is off to a good start in our opinion, with our sales being brisk, major auction results looking relatively strong, and overall good activity in the market. We have been through a number of major coin shows, auctions, and have been able to get a feel for how the error coin market is doing. 


There are strong areas and weak areas, with some of the more common (even if expensive) errors types being generally weak, and but with the truly rare, dramatic, or unusual error types being in demand. We are out of stock of many error types, and coins we have often had multiples of, and currently we cannot find replacements. This shows the strength of the market to us. Although we cannot know what the rest of the year will bring, we are optimistic and please with how the year is going so far, and are looking forward to the rest of the year.


So what are some areas which are good collecting opportunities right now? Certain types of errors have dropped in price in the last number of years, and prices are at the lowest they’ve been in years for some of these error types. This is an opportunity for collectors to start building a collection. Although error coin collecting is not really an investment, the investing mantra “buy low, sell high”, bears some relevance to collecting. So here are some areas which we believe are good values right now (these are not listed in order of “good value.”)


1.Lincoln cent on Roosevelt dime double-denominations

Average Cost: $750

These have come down in price over the last several years, with “common date” 11c coins selling for around $500-$650 in average mint state grades. Even some of the scarcer dates sale in this price range or a little more due to a lack of demand. A collection by date would make a very challenging and difficult set—but the difficulty is half the fun, which would make it a good set. 


Because there is little competition for the rare dates/mints at this time, this would make a great set to work on right now.


2.State Quarter Errors

Average Cost: Varies

The market for state quarter errors priced under about $1,000 is soft right now, making for a good collecting opportunity. 


There are any number of error types to collecting within the state quarter series: missing clad layers, double-strikes, off-centers, elliptical clips, etc. Pick an error type and then start collecting it. There is a lot of fun in trying to accomplish a set like this, and quite a challenge as well. 50 coins would be required to complete a set for any of these error types, with some states being super rare, and some being relatively common. Prices on these generally are 25-50% lower than they were 10 years ago, and that’s a good thing for collecting them.


3.Modern Off-Centers by Date/Mintmark

Average Cost $5-$75

Pick a series from Lincoln cents to Kennedy half dollars, and all are soft right now, with prices down. Although there are serious collectors forming sets, there aren’t as many right now, making for a good opportunity.


A good idea would be to pick a series, for example Lincoln Memorial cents, and then build a set by date and mintmark, with a requirement that all coins being 40-60% off-center, and mintstate, and with no major problems (counting wheel marks, etc, are so common on off-centers, it’s ok to have one, but nothing really obvious or major.) A set like this will cost much less than it did 10 years ago.


4.Off-Metal Jefferson Nickels on Cent Planchets 

Average Cost: $350 a coin

Prices are pretty soft right now, with the exception of the earlier date coins (which are so rare that they are always in high demand.) Doing a set by date or date and mintmark would be very challenging, so a date set might be a better option. Also, the error type itself makes a nice collection because the error is very obvious since the off-metal is a big contrast (copper vs normal nickel.)


A good idea might be to limit the set to start in 1955, since many of the dates and mints prior to that year are rare and hard to find (although doing such a set would be neat and a great challenge for the collector who is up to it.) The coins in the 1990’s will be very tough as well, although because most collectors don’t realize just how rare they are, you could likely pick them up (if you were lucky enough to find one) at a relatively low price.


5.Buffalo Nickel Off-Centers

Average Cost: $750

Although always popular, at the moment buffalo nickel off-centers are fairly cheap. There have been enough of them come on the market in the last 5-10 years, that prices are lower than they used to be for most off-centers (very nice or very rare date examples being the exception.)


Collecting a date or date and mintmark set would be very challenging and fun, although more expensive than other coin series. Being a beautiful and popular design makes them a somewhat more expensive, but also a more attractive set. 


6.Lincoln Cent Die Caps

Average Cost $350

These have dropped about 25-50% in the last 10 years, with coins being very affordable right now. 10 years ago they were selling for about $500, but have dropped in recent years. a Dramatic error and we like them. 


7.Missing Clad Layers on 10c, 25c, Pres/Sac $1 and SBA $1

Average Cost: 10c $35, 25c $40, $1 $200-$400

While these used to be about 50% more expensive than they are now, over the last few years they’ve dropped in price. Generally, these are a good area to be collecting right now, since prices are down.


There are other areas which are good values, but these are a handful of areas worthy of consideration for collecting right now. If what you are buying right now is “hot”, with prices going up, maybe it’s a good time to stop collecting so much in that area, and pick one of these or some other area in the error coin market which is experiencing weakness. Most price drops in the coin hobby do not last, with fresh collectors eventually coming back in and pushing prices back up. Of course there’s no guarantee of that, but as they say “buy low and sell high”, and these are some “low” areas at the present time. 


Friday, April 7, 2017 - 13:03
Above: The Baltimore coin show bourse floor.
Above: The Baltimore coin show bourse floor. 

We’re finally catching up after a busy Baltimore coin show last week. The show, located in Baltimore, Maryland, and held 3 times a year, is one of our favorite shows of the years, due to its excellent location, which brings in lots of both customers and dealers from all over. 

This year we were wondering how good the show would be, since the coin market as a whole has been lackluster for the last number of years, and the error market has been effected as well.  What all has caused a downturn in the coin market is anyone’s guess (and if you ask coin dealers, you will get different answers) and there are many factors which doubtless play a roll. So we were interested to see how this show would be both for us, as well as for the non-error dealers at the show. 

Overall, the show was excellent, with most dealers we talked to saying they were having a “good show”, and with other dealers having “their best Baltimore show ever!” There was a good energy at the show, and dealers seemed happy at the amount of selling they were doing. The auctions seemed to do well, with the Pogue sale of high-end coins having lots of excited bidders, and the various errors we saw in auctions went for good prices in our opinion. 

Buying and selling were overall good at the show. We bought less than we wanted to, and sold more than we expected, and overall would say that it was an active and good show, and we think the coin market appears to be on the upswing. Of course you cannot judge an entire market by one coin show, and we aren’t. Up till now, we’ve seen prices for error coins holding steady across most types and series, and with some areas being very active, with prices well above that of recent years.

We are excited to see how the rest of the year goes, but things appear to be having an upward momentum for both the error market, and the coin market as a whole.

In our next blog post, we will dive into some areas of the error coin market where prices are low, and therefore would be an excellent area to start a collection (low prices rarely last, and are often opportune times to build collections.)

Happy collecting!

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 06:53

This very short article on coin grading and honesty among coin dealers and collectors. Two of the biggest problems in the coin market, as laid out by Q. David Bowers, are current grading standards and honesty in the hobby. Here is a link to the article:

Although coin grading does not effect the error market very much, it is still relevant. Without going into much detail, the bottom line in our opinion when it comes to grading (and we cannot overstate these points): 
1.Buy the coin for it's eye-appeal, and not for the grade on the holder.

2.Do not ignore detractors (ugly toning, surfaces problems, poor strike) just because the coin has a high numeric grade. 

3.Do not pay a large premium for 1 or even 2 grade points higher. It's not worth it, and when grading standards are as lax as they are, and when eye-appeal plays so little a role in determining grade, it's expecially not worth it.

Grading standards go up and down, and what are currently the grading standards may not be the standards in 10 years time. Paying very high premiums for minute differences in a coin's appearance is a bad idea almost always.

Honesty is another problem. Coins should be sold at a reasonable profit to the seller (be it a collector selling or a dealer), but all coins should be sold at a price that the dealer/collector would be willing to buy the item back for a reasonable discount, if offered the coin the next day. It's important to add the "next day" because if market conditions change, obviously a dealer or collector should not feel obligated to base their "buy" price on coins sold in a now evaporated market. A coin worth $1000 3 years ago may only be worth $200 now because a "hoard" of the coin came out, or because demand (and therefore the retail price) has dropped. Or it may be still worth $1000, in which case the dealer/collector shouldn't pay $200 for it, but should be honest and pay a reasonable price.

Honesty does not have a price, and we should all do to others as we would have them do to us. Its the right thing to do, and will also benefit the dealers, the customers, and the hobby as a whole in the long run.


Thursday, December 1, 2016 - 11:41
1954-S Franklin Half Double Struck

Error coin collecting and the error coin market have always had their ups and downs, with both the popularity and prices of errors going up and down. It’s a “seesaw” effect, which is seen in all collectibles and areas of investment just as it is in the error coin market. However, even knowing this, it can be disconcerting to see a coin that was selling for $1,000 drop in price to $700, especially when you paid the $1,000 price for it. The good thing is there are many reasons why there is this up and down to the market, and most of the time they are not reasons to get worried about but are simply normal give and take in the hobby and error coin market. 

As a coin dealer, I set up at most of the largest coin shows held throughout the U.S., participate in major auctions, buy and sell to both collectors and dealers, and also get a chance to talk to quite a few people in the hobby. With the U.S. coin market being soft right now, there has been general concern as to how much that is effecting the error coin market, and it is a question which often comes up in conversations with other collectors and dealers. In the last several years, the U.S. coin market has experienced a fairly major drop in prices for some series of coins, while other coin series have held up well. Does this effect the error coin market? Yes and no. Note: for purposes of this article “U.S. coins” refers to non-error U.S. coins.  

Above: A 1976 Kennedy half dollar struck on a clad quarter planchet. Coins like this are very scarce, and are in fairly high demand right now.

The error coin market and the U.S. coin market are connected, but only somewhat. A great many error coin collectors collect error coins exclusively, and so are not in tune with the U.S. coin market, and so price changes in U.S. coins are not of any great concern to them. Also, error coins are collected more for what they are, and far less for their grade, which means problems such as “gradeflation” have little if any effect on the error coin market since error coin grading standards are similar, but not the same as they are for non-error coins (note: “gradeflation” is the belief by some collectors and dealers that grading standards for the 3rd party grading services are slowly becoming more and more liberal, and that coins previously being certified at a lower grade are now being graded at a higher grade. Many believe this is pushing down prices for U.S. coins due to lower quality coins being assigned higher grades.)

One effect that the U.S. coin market does have on error coins is that collectors and dealers of U.S. coins are more tied-up for cash right now due to a general decrease in the values of their collections/inventories, and also the decrease in values makes collectors and other dealers reluctant to buy coins unless they are “sure” that they are a good value. This means that there is less of both dealers and collector’s cash flowing into the error market, and while they may never have bought many errors anyway, there is still a small effect from this lack of buying. 

It’s not just U.S. coins which have reduced collector/dealer cash flow, but also lower bullion prices have contributed to the situation, since the bullion they’ve bought has been dropping in value of late. Additionally, there have also been many gigantic U.S. coin collections hit the U.S. coin market, and that has also created an increase of supply of U.S. coins, and a corresponding decrease in prices since collectors and dealers have had to sink their cash into these (often) expensive coins. Although there is some flexibility in dealers and collectors ability to absorb all these news coins on the market, that flexibility has its limits.

And last, the U.S. and world economies have been sluggish for years now, resulting in lower incomes for some collectors, and a corresponding effect on coin dealers. If people are working and making good money, they generally are not going to spend their money on collectible coins. 

So while some of this sounds like bad news for the error coin market, there is actually a lot of good news as well. As an error coin dealer, this has been our busiest year, with more sales than we have ever had in a given year, and with sales to many different customers as well (in other words, the bulk of are sales weren’t simply to a few collectors, but were spread out among many collectors.) Error collectors are buying, but the requirement is that prices be in line with the market. Some coins have gone up in value and some have gone down, but if as previously mentioned, an error coin had dropped in value from $1,000 to $700, the price needs to be at the $700 level and not the $1,000 level. This is true in any market, and so errors that have dropped in price could be a good value, while those that haven’t dropped simply are still in demand and perhaps have farther to go upwards.  

Walking half struck off-center1944 Walking Half Off-Center Reverse

Above: Rare errors such as walking liberty half off-center strikes are in high demand. The above coin is a 1944 walking half struck 30% off-center.

Rare errors in a nice grade are very much in demand, and as a dealer they are as hard as ever to buy, and are easy to sell. Rare U.S. type errors, and various early 20th century coin series, and rare major errors are always hard to find and while they may take slightly longer to sell due to their being more expensive, and so not easily affordable to the average collector, they do sell well. Modern major errors (2003 to present) are also hot, and there is strong demand for the scarcer error types since 2003. Major off-metals, transitionals, and rare or wild striking errors have all been popular this year, with the coins being much harder to buy than to sell.

1980 Nickel on cent planchet error coindouble-denomination cent on dime mint error
Above: more common errors such as the common date nickels on cents or 11c double-denomination cent on dimes are cheap right now.

What is soft? Summed up, it would be common errors. Any of the common date or more common error types are down in price right now. Common nickels on cents, 11c double-denominations, state quarter errors, die caps, bonded coins, planchets—any common errors in those series are soft for this year, although there are others that have had weaker demand as well. 

In auctions such as eBay, or major auction houses, prices have been generally good. While some coins sell cheap, others sell very strong, and as a whole, I would give a thumbs up to prices realized in auctions. Sometimes coins sold “cheap” because there is little demand currently, while some are cheap simply because bidders missed the coin and it “fell through the cracks.” Other coins have sold for very high prices because they are rare, very difficult to find errors for which there is high demand. 

The stock market has also been good for the coin market, with record prices in stocks contributing to some collectors having extra funds for buying coins. This is a good thing for the coin market as a whole.

So should you be concerned about the error market? I don’t think so, at least not as long as you are buying to hold for 5 years or more. The “buy and hold” strategy is usually a winner for coin collectors, and while there are no guarantees in any market in terms of prices increasing, the error coin hobby has a lot of devoted collectors behind it who love the hobby for its camaraderie amongst collectors as well as the thrill of building and owning error coin collections, and I fully expect good things for the hobby in 2017 and for many years to come.