In buying and selling coins, we get to see a lot of mint errors--a ton of them in fact, from off-metals to off-centers, and everything in-between! This gives us a lot of insight into what error coins exist, their condition, and also lot of practice in determining authenticity and figuring out how any particular error coin was made. This is all made possible because we get to hold the coins in hand and closely examine them, and as said earlier, because we buy and sell a lot of errors (plus we see a lot of errors we don't buy at all.) So why do we bring this up? To make the point that the more coins you can see, the better off you will be in terms of building a high quality collection. Not being a dealer, this can be hard for many collectors to do, but there are ways to help get some good hands-on experience. Here are some ways you can get some "experience" without having to actually buy any coins.
When you get a chance to attend a major auction, take the time to review all the mint errors in the sale, even the ones you aren't interested in buying. Look at them under a loupe, and think about how the error was made. Look at the coin's surfaces, and notice the subtle differences in the error. Review the grading services' description in the coin; did they note all the errors on the coin, or did they run out of room on , and left other errors unmentioned (that happens a lot in fact.) Look at the grade that was assigned--why was the coin given the grade it was assigned? Errors are graded generally much less strictly than non-error coins, and so it's good to understand that so that you don't overpay (or underpay) for and error based on grade.
Also, major auctions allow collectors a chance to see major errors that they wouldn't normally get a chance to spend 10 minutes reviewing--so take advantage of this great opportunity to see some major errors.
Do you have a friend with an error collection? Take the time to get together with them, and take a good look at their coins. Look at the attribution, grade, authenticity, and surfaces of the coin. If you're one of the fortunate few who have access to one of the really major error collections our there, definetely spend all the time you can with reviewing those coins since some of those coins are doubtless unique or close to it.
Although this is not as good as in person viewing, online major auction sites often have excellent photos, and allow collectors the ability to see millions of dollars worth of error coins from their computer screens. Some sites include Heritage Auctions, Stacks/Bowers, Great Collections, eBay, and we have the Sullivan Numismatics archives as well.
Although dealers are often busy at coin shows, and may not have the time due to the busy nature of coin shows to allow you to physically look through their entire inventory (we can vouch for that!), you can simply through their display cases at the coins for sale, and get some good experience that way. Many dealers will have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of inventory at coin shows, giving a unique opportunity to see some rare mint errors.
This may seem obvious, but buying coins for your collection affords an opportunity to build your knowledge. Some collectors quickly look a coin over, then throw it into a slab box in a bank vault, and never really spend much time looking their coin over. Don't be that collector, but instead, take the time after buying a coin to carefuly review it, consider all it's attributes, and then put it away into your safe deposit box (or wherever you store your collection.)
The more you know about error coins, the more your will appreciate your collection, and the better collection you will be able to build. Knowledge is key to building a good mint error collection, so learn all you can about errors, whenever you have the opportunity, by carefully considering all their attributes.
The FUN coin show in Tampa FL, January 3-7th, 2018, was one of the best shows we've attended in years, in terms of overall, healthy market activity. There was a good amount of buying and selling for us, but also just for the coin market (errors and U.S.), the activity and buzz was visible everyday we were at the show. Even Saturday, when the show started to wind-down, there were dealers and collectors eagerly doing business--it's good to see a fast paced show! We think this bodes well for 2018, and are looking forward to see what the year will bring to the coin market, and the hobby as a whole.
One of the big stories of the show was a 1943 copper cent (the finest known, and the only "red" example known), which sold for $1,000,000 in a private transaction. This is the most that a 1943 "P" mint copper cent has ever sold for, with the most expensive example being the 1943-D that fetched $1,700,000 a few years back. Here is a link to the PCGS article about the transaction: https://www.pcgs.com/news/bronze-1943-lincoln-cent.
Although we purchased many errors at the show, its inevitable that it takes a while for them all to show up on our website. Many go off for certification, and don't return to us until weeks or months later. Other coins are sold immediately to collectors with want lists on file with us (if you don't have a want list with us, you should do so if you want 1st shot at fresh coins, or at a minimum, join or email list.) We have a number of coins off being certified, and as those come back, they will appear on the website or be offered to our customers. Also, we have 3 major shows in the next 2 months or so, and as shows go, we expect to acquire a lot more errors at those shows--we'll be working hard to track down all we can!
Sometimes we do add the coins that were sold to our want list customers, to our archives, that way we and other collectors can see some of the coins, even thoguh the coins are off the market, since some are unique or really incredible major mint errors that we rarely get a chance to see. So many really incredible errors never make it on to the open coin market. This is true for U.S. coins, errors, and all collectibles really. People who are actively buying a particular error type, or are wanting a certain rare coin, may be directly offered a coin buy a dealer, they buy it, and then no one except the two of them ever really know about the coin or the sale. We do this all the time, and we've seen this happen numerous times with other dealers as well.
In the coming months expect to see a busy coin market, since collectors get back into the swing of building their collections after the holidays and as they figure out their tax situations (and how much extra spending money they have for the year.) Additionally, for the year ahead of the hobby, with the economy on the upswing, and the stock market at record levels, we think more and more collectors will find the time (and money) to acuire coins for their collections. A good economy and cash in people's pockets, and an upward trajectory in the coin market are all excellent signals that 2018 will be a good one for the hobby. If the FUN show is any indicator of the direction the year is going to go (and it should be to some degree), we are excited to see what it has in store for us and the hobby as a whole.
Baltimore Coin Show Report November, 2017
The recent Baltimore Whitman expo, held in Baltimore, Maryland November 8-12, was an excellent show—one of our best of the year in fact. There were, relatives speaking, a lot of error collectors in attendance, as well as activity both buying and selling. We sold more than we usually would at a Baltimore show, and were pleased with the total sales for the show.
Additionally buying was good, with a number of collectors bringing us parts of their collections to sale. As a side note, it’s a good idea to occasionally go through your collections and “weed out” the coins that no longer fit into your set, and sell them so that you can then use that money to buy coins that do fit into your set. Sometimes collectors “keep everything” that they buy, and if that’s what you enjoy doing, then you should collect that way, but if you are building a set which has a specific aim or theme to it (e.g collecting a set of off-center Kennedy halves by date/mint), then having duplicates doesn’t really make sense. But enough of this rabbit trail, and back to the topic of the show!
We did see strong prices in the Auctions as well, and won very little, with some of the coins going to stratospheric prices. Sometimes auctions can be a good place to buy a coin, but at other times prices can go well beyond what they should. It only takes two bidders who don’t know a coin’s value for a mint error to sale for far beyond what it’s worth. Unfortunately, sometimes collectors or dealers will look at that outsider sale, and think that it is comparable for selling their own coin—wrong! That coin should be ignored for all practical purposes, since it is an outsider in terms of a coin’s price average, and shouldn’t be used to price an error coin.
Overall, we can say that we are optimistic about the state of the error market, and although there are soft areas, collectors are active and the market is pretty healthy as a whole.
We recently made a discovery that Coin World has published in their weekly paper. Proof Ike dollars and Kennedy halves are known from the 1970's which are struck on aluminum coins or tokens. Until now, it was unknown what token or coin these proof Ike and Kennedy halves were struck on, but we did some research and were able to figure it out by clsoely examing a proof 1970-S Kennedy half and a proof Ike dollar that we have in our inventory.
Read the article here on Coin World's website: https://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/2017/10/1970s-coins-struck-on-aluminum-game-tokens.html
Coin World just recently reported the existence of a 3rd known example of the remarkable two-tailed Washington quarter mule. The coin has two reverses, and as such cannot be dated, but it is believed to date back to the 1960's.
The full article can be found on Coin World's website: http://www.coinworld.com/news/us-coins/2017/09/pcgs-certifies-two-tailed-washington-quarter-dollar.html?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=Lyris&utm_campaign=DigitalEdition