The fascination collectors have for error coins and notes
I first became interested in error coins in my teens in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when I started noticing that some of the coins I found in circulation were “different.” When I subscribed to Coin World about 1970, I immediately gravitated to the Collectors’ Clearinghouse column, which often featured errors and die varieties and coins that had damage or alterations that looked like errors, at least to an untrained eye. When I received the latest issue of the newspaper in the mail each week, I always turned to the Clearinghouse page first to see what new find was being reported.
My eyes were certainly untrained then, but through the Clearinghouse column I gradually learned about the errors I was finding, including pieces struck on incomplete planchets, coins with laminations, coins with die chips and die cracks, and other usually minor pieces. I never found anything especially rare or valuable. Well, that’s not exactly accurate.
I found that the information provided by the Clearinghouse editors — Jim Johnson, Ed Fleischmann, Tom DeLorey — was invaluable. They taught me the minting process and what could happen went something went wrong in any of the many steps involved in the production of a coin. Furthermore, that education helped me in 1976 to land my first job with Coin World, as assistant editor in the Clearinghouse department. I had some skill as a writer and some knowledge of coins, including errors.
Today, I still find error coins and notes interesting, and I enjoy writing about them. You may notice the occasional online-exclusive articles I write about such great pieces as a mated pair of Proof Jefferson 5-cent coins or a note with mismatched serial numbers. Readers seem to like those kinds of articles as well, based on the number of views or comments registered at our website and Facebook page, and in the email and phone calls I regularly receive from collectors who think (hope!) that they have found a rare error.
For those of you reading this, do you like errors? Do you collect them? What is your favorite error? Let me know.