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Mint Error Coins Guide

Close image of penny with arrow indicating where a mint error is on the coin
Image via Flickr by Jayman931

A mint error coin is a coin that wasn’t manufactured correctly. Numismatists or coin collectors value many of these coins, and it’s easy to start a fun hobby and make a little extra money by looking for them in your change. You can also ask for coins in circulation from your bank and then return the ones that aren’t rare after you examine them. Keep reading for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about mint error coins.

How Do Mint Errors Happen?

Some mint error coins result from a problem with the planchet or metal disk that the coin was made from. Potential errors include an incomplete planchet, use of the wrong metal, a cracked or chipped planchet, or a planchet that’s too thick or thin. Die errors result if the die that stamps the coin has a flaw. Strike errors happen when the die doesn’t hit the planchet correctly. The coin could be off-center, or it could have a rotated die, multiple strikes, or a weak strike.

How Do You Tell if a Coin Has a Minting Error?

While some minting errors are obvious, others are subtle. You should look at every coin carefully under a bright light. Use a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe to see small details. You shouldn’t clean coins before you examine them because you could cause microscopic scratches on the surfaces and reduce their values. Whether they’re error coins or other types of rare coins, the most valuable examples have few signs of wear. Uncirculated coins are rarest and most costly. 

Look for coins with missing letters, misspellings, letters that are too close together, or blurry or doubled images. Make sure you examine both sides of every coin. The back and front of a coin should have the same orientation, and coins with one side differently oriented have die rotation errors. Check the edges of each coin as well. You could see additional seams, lines, or other errors. Lettering or a reeded edge like the one on a typical quarter or dime could be missing as well. 

Ultimately, the only real way to know if you have a mint error coin is to have the coin appraised by a professional. The experts at our Henderson store are well equipped to help you identify mint error coins.

What Are Some Common Minting Errors?

A die cap error, also called a brockage or bonded coins, happens when a planchet enters a coining press before the previous planchet leaves. They stick together, and one of the planchets may resemble a bottle cap after repeated strikes.

With a die adjustment, the coin press operator adjusts the machine manually, keeping some coins from being struck with enough pressure. Coins with double denominations were fed through two coin presses for two different denominations. In a transitional error, the mint changes from one metal or metal alloy to a different composition. An older planchet with the previous metal gets struck as a newly dated coin.

Struck fragments are pieces of metal from various sources that end up in the coining press instead of planchets and get struck with the coin’s design. Coins are sometimes struck on feeder finger tips as well. Coin presses use feeder fingers to push the planchets in for striking, and the feeder finger occasionally gets stamped with the coin design instead of the planchet.

A proof coin with any type of mistake is called a proof error. Proof coins use planchets that are hand-polished, cleaned carefully, and specially treated for high-quality strikes. These coins are struck at least twice with specially polished dies. Then, they’re carefully packaged to preserve and showcase their exceptional finishes. Proof coins come with an official Certificate of Authenticity. In a foldover strike, a planchet enters the coining press in a vertical position and gets struck on its edge. Many of these coins look like the edges are folded. 

What Are Mint Error Coins Worth? 

The value of error coins changes over time as demand from coin collectors fluctuates. Like other coins, rarer specimens in good condition are more costly. Older error coins are rarer, so they’re worth more than newer coins, especially if they’re still in good condition. Mint error coins with lower denominations are generally worth less than those with higher denominations. There are more coins with low denominations in circulation, making finding error coins more likely. 

More common error coins are relatively easy to find. Blank planchets have no design, and they can be worth up to around $20. In a broad strike, sometimes called a partial collar, the coining collar that holds the planchet between the two dies doesn’t fully engage when the coin is struck. The coin looks wider and thinner than normal, and it could have an odd-looking rim or an off-center design. Broad strikes are usually worth $5 to $200. If ancient or medieval coins have errors, they reduce values instead of increasing them.

What Are the Most Valuable Error Coins?

The rarest mint error coins are extremely valuable, and you could be lucky enough to find one among your change. The 1969-S full doubled die obverse Lincoln penny is worth up to $35,000. On the side of the coin with Lincoln’s head, everything but the S mint mark is doubled. Since this coin is so valuable, you could encounter a counterfeit instead of the genuine coin. To prevent this problem, you can have your coins appraised by a professional.

Presidential dollar coins debuted in 2007, and they have portraits of U.S. presidents on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other. If these coins have missing letters on the edges, no lettering, or duplicate letters, they could be worth up to $3,000. The wide AM reverse Lincoln cent is from 1998, 1999, or 2000, and 1999 is the rarest year. The A and the M in America have more space between them than normal, and this coin is worth up to $600.   

Have Questions or Need a Coin Appraisal?

To learn more about coin collecting and find out how much your coins are worth, contact us at Las Vegas Jewelry and Coin Exchange. We have more than 20 years of experience, and we can help you get great prices for your coins. We’re open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and we close at 4 p.m. on Saturdays. 

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