Minting Mistakes: Error Coins and Their Collectability

A basic understanding of coin collecting reveals that condition, date, and scarcity are all key components of what makes a coin collectible. One area of collecting, however, focuses on mistakes made by the mint, or “error coins.” Even if a coin is an otherwise common year, it may be a valuable piece if simply produced incorrectly by the mint that struck it. Error coins are often pieces that are collectible not because of when or where they were produced but due to their faulty production and thus scarcity and “cool” factor. In addition, collectors have been fascinated for generations by how such coins managed to go unnoticed by any quality control verification before the botched coinage left the mint.

jefferson nickel double

Although error coins are very popular with collectors and tend to be worth more than face value, the range of values for errors can vary wildly.  For example, Heritage Auctions recently offered a 1983 Jefferson Nickel that had been struck twice—the second time wildly off center to the bottom—for only $69 in an internet auction. While this figure was well more than the coin’s $0.05 face value, this is actually a relatively inexpensive error.

lf (1)On the other end of the spectrum is a fascinating off-metal striking, where a normally-copper Indian Cent from 1900 was actually struck on a gold coin blankintended for a $2 ½ gold piece! This produced a hybrid coin that had the design of a cent but was on a gold “planchet,” or coin blank that weighed much more and
was of an entirely different color than a normal cent. This major error sold at a Heritage sale in 2015 for the grand total of $141,000.

As seen by these two examples, errors can occur in a variety of ways. They can be struck twice or incorrectly, be struck on the wrong planchet (ie the aforementioned gold instead of copper cent), have clipped planchets that become cut during the minting process, or even be struck without the protective collar that keeps coins from spreading out like a pancake when produced. These errors are just some of the production quirks that may accidentally leave the US Mint or other coin production facilities to escape into everyday commerce and numismatists’ collections. Given the wide array of values for error coins, it makes sense to have possible error coins reviewed by an expert for evaluation. Perhaps the next time you see a strange-looking coin, it will be a scarce error that adds collectible value, so check your pocket change, your desk drawers, and more to enjoy the thrill of the hunt!

By Sarah Miller

Posted by Sarah Miller

Director of Numismatics, New York

  1. I have a 2013 South Dakota state coin. The front side has no silver it is only copper. I believe it an error coin. Can you possibly tell me the worth of this quarter?

    Reply

    1. You can receive a FREE auction evaluation at https://www.ha.com/common/acquisitions.php?target=auctionevaluation&type=kk-fb-cs-freeeval-070714 or you can also call us at 1-800-872-6467. Thank you!

      Reply

  2. Barbara Westphal February 14, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    How would I send in a 1955 penny that is double struck. Found it in my late husband’s jewelry case with a note that it was worth over $1,000.

    Reply

    1. Please email images and a description to bid@ha.com and we would be happy to get one of our experts to give a valuation on the coin. Thank you!

      Reply

  3. I’ve had, for about 30 years I think it to be a Japanese coin that some tell me could be a VERY old coin of gold. I can’t find anyone to look at it. It must be precious metal because in all the years I’ve had it it has never tarnished. I person I shown it to became very excited asking where i got it and if I’d be willing to sell it. If I could send you photos of both sides I be forever in your debt. The square cut out center is not punched out correctly. Does copper not tarnish over time? There’s no green tarnish anywhere. Please, if you’d just examine it you’d be solving a 30 year mystery.
    For ever grateful
    RUDY III

    Reply

    1. CSSocialMedia March 2, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Those are all really great questions. Our experts would be more than happy assist you with a valuation. Please contact one of our experts at 1-800-835-3243 or email bid@ha.com with your images and your questions and we would be happy to get back to you with more information. Thank you!

      Reply

  4. I have a 1990 penny (excellent condition) that is pewter or silver in color, definitely not copper. What’s up with this?

    Reply

    1. CSSocialMedia March 2, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      For more information about valuating your coin please call us at 1-800-872-6467 or submit a free valuation via https://www.ha.com/c/acquisitions.zx?target=sell&ic=Tab-ToSell-SellInquiry-040814-interior?type=kk-fb-cs-sellnow-090214 Thank you!

      Reply

  5. ROGER MORISSETTE February 21, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    J AI UNE PIECE DE 5 CENT US AVEC UNE FACE DE CHAQUE COTE ANNEE1996 ET 1988 JE N ARRIVE PAS A LA TROUVER SUR INT SI QUELQU UN ETAIS AU COURENT DE CETTE PIECE OU MEDAIL ME DONNER UNE REPONCE SERAIT APP MERCI

    Reply

    1. CSSocialMedia March 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Roger thanks for reaching out! We would be more than happy to assist. Please send us your images and description of all of your coins that you plan to submit for valuation at: https://www.ha.com/c/acquisitions.zx?target=sell&ic=Tab-ToSell-SellInquiry-040814-interior?type=kk-fb-cs-sellnow-090214

      Reply

  6. Richard Laskevitch February 24, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I have a 1965 penny that is double struck heads on bouth sides would this have any value

    Reply

    1. CSSocialMedia March 2, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Richard, please call us directly at 1-866-835-3243 for more information about the 1965 penny. One of our experts would like to valuate it: https://www.ha.com/c/acquisitions.zx?target=sell&ic=Tab-ToSell-SellInquiry-040814-interior?type=kk-fb-cs-sellnow-090214 Thank you!

      Reply

  7. I have a 1924 Liberty Dollar given to my husband by his dad. We noticed “in God we Trust” is printed “In God We Trvst”. Could this be worth something?

    Reply

    1. CSSocialMedia March 2, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Hi Patricia that’s very interesting. Would is be possible to send us images of the coin? We would really like our experts to valuate the coin. Please email us at bid@ha.com or call us for more information at 1-866-835-3243. Thank you!

      Reply

  8. I have a raw 1925/4 Browning-3 Capped Bust Quarter that’s been stored in a collector’s safe for over 50 years.

    I have confirmed with a well known numismatic author via photos, that the strike is indicative of an early die state. The strike is so sharp on the devices, it is almost squared off-like on certain features (feathers, stars, ear, e pluribus banner, letters, leaves).

    Along the profile (face and neck) there’s strong strike doubling and and more minor strike doubling on the stars and around the outer edges of the main devices in general.

    The overdate of 5 over 4 is extremely prevalent (more so than any of the other B-3 auction archive photos I’ve studied from your site). There are some raised die lines still as evidence of the 2 as well.

    My questions are;

    1. Records of proof strikes for this series except for a couple of the years were not maintained well, although in several articles, 1925 is listed as one of the years suspected of producing some proofs for private collectors. Is it at all possible that this could be a 1925 proof? How can I have this evaluated to determine this outside of sending it to a TPG as they will spend only a few minutes on it for general grading?

    2. Would HA be interested in evaluating this piece before I send it to a TPG?

    I should state upfront that my plans are to sell this coin through your site once it’s graded and ready for auction.

    Regards,
    Lori

    Reply

    1. CSSocialMedia March 8, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks for the interesting research on this piece. We would like to valuate it. We offer FREE auction valuations at https://www.ha.com/common/acquisitions.php?target=auctionevaluation&type=kk-fb-cs-freeeval-070714 Thank you!

      Reply

  9. One Cent cut by mint at bottom edge!.

    Reply

  10. Have a 1969 B dollar bill serial # F 21052084 A front side normal back side is small print has alot of blank paper on bottom of dollar Is it a misprint

    Reply

    1. CSSocialMedia March 8, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Wow! You have a very interesting coin! Please contact us immediately for a free auction valuation at http://www.HA.com Thanks!

      Reply

  11. Hi!!! I’m Alicia I have a 1913 wheat pennie a 1943 nickle , 1969 dime are they worth and 1964 halfdollar how much are they worth??????

    Reply

  12. I have a 1979 Jefferson coin. That has the Jefferson bust on both sides. Nothing else. Both sides are in excellent condition.

    Reply

    1. Dear John,

      Are you interested to see how much your item is worth, visit https://www.ha.com/common/acquisitions.php?target=auctionevaluation&type=KK-hablog-cs-freeeval-021814 for a FREE auction evaluation. You can also call us at 1-800-872-6467.

      Thank you

      Reply

  13. della dutenhoffer October 18, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I have a heads or tails nickel with Jefferson on both sides.has 1961 on one side and 1972 on the other side.

    Reply

  14. Hello Della,
    thank you for your message. We have emailed you directly in regards to your coin.

    Reply

  15. Good Day

    I was looking at my 2016 Gold Walking Liberty and it is an error strike, the coin is offset just enough that the reed edge is a third to a half higher on one side. I was wondering why the plastic encasement was not closed tightly and upon further inspection discovered the thicker edge. Would anyone think this would increase the value as a defect or error?

    Thank you

    Reply

    1. Hi Mike,

      A minor minting mistake may possibly be worth a small premium, depending on what it looks like. If you would like more information on this possible error, we would recommend showing the coin to a coin shop or dealer in your area to get their opinion. You could also consider submitting the piece for grading to see what a grading service would evaluate it as.

      Best Regards,

      Heritage Auctions

      Reply

  16. Hi I have a miss shape 1972 1 cent coin. Any feedback on this any one and 1943 also

    Reply

    1. Thank you for your message. If you are interested in selling, please email front and back images to Coins@HA.com. A Specialist will review and contact you to discuss.

      Reply

  17. I have a 1983 P nickel with very strong doubling letters in “in god we trust, 1983 and mintmark P”. There is also a cud in Jefferson collar. On the back is a strong doubling letters of “of America”. And the “ICE “of monticello is missing. Is this worth anything?

    Reply

    1. CSSocialMedia June 14, 2019 at 8:41 am

      Hi Gerald, Thank you for sharing this with us. If you are interested in learning more about your coin, please email front and back images to Coins@HA.com. A Specialist will review and contact you to discuss.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *