What Are Error Coins? How Much Are Coin Mistakes Worth?

south-dakota-quarter-wth-no-silver-by-mcskeletor.jpg Have you ever heard about error coins?

Simply put, an error coin is a mint-made mistake — in the process of creating the coin at the U.S. mint, some sort of mistake was made affecting the “look” of the coin itself.

There are many types of error coins, and the exciting thing about error coins is that they can often be be found in circulation.

Here’s the kicker: error coins are often worth hundreds and even thousands of dollars!

 

Types Of Error Coins

Error coins as a category are usually divided by the type of error, of which there are several.

Some of the most common errors include:

  • Doubled-dies
  • Blank planchets
  • Broad strikes
  • Wrong design or wrong metal
  • Off-center coins
  • Clipped planchets

Bear in mind, this list is by no means exhaustive. There are dozens of recognized errors; the 6 mentioned here are major error types and are presented to help introduce you to the larger realm of error coin collecting.

 

Popular Coin Mistakes

Doubled-dies may be one of the most popular types of errors. A doubled-die refers to the doubling of all or part of the image on a coin. Typically, the doubling is confined to one side of a coin, and it is normally best seen in the lettering of a coin. However, parts of the design image can also show doubling effects, if the doubling is prominent enough. Perhaps one of the most famous errors of all time is the 1955 doubled-die Lincoln penny. Worth almost $1,000 in well-worn condition, the 1955 doubled-die penny has been drawing mainstream attention for over 50 years.

Blank planchets are not hard to spot, if you are lucky enough to locate one. (By the way, a “planchet” is simply the round piece of metal a coin is made from.) The result is a blank piece of metal that is the same size, shape, and color as a typical coin. Some are worth only a few dollars, but many are valued $10 to $20 and up.

Broad strikes are fairly valuable. When coins are struck at the U.S. Mint, they usually are momentarily placed inside a collar during the striking process to help create a properly formed rim. When the coin is not inserted inside the collar, the coin will tend to spread out a bit upon being struck. The result is a coin with an odd-looking rim (if there even is any), and the design may be off-center. The coin will also often be wider than it is supposed to be. This type of error is called a broadstrike. Depending on the type of coin, relative over-width of the coin, and the centering of the design, broadstrikes are worth anywhere from $5 to over $200.

Coins struck with the wrong metal or wrong design are always in demand. One of the most famous examples of coins struck on the wrong metal are the few 1943 pennies that were struck on bronze planchets instead of the steel rounds intended for 1943 cents. Lincoln penny designs on dime planchets, Washington quarter designs on nickel planchets, and so forth are common examples of “wrong design” errors. Some of these errors are worth thousands of dollars.

Off-center coins are often quite eye-catching. Some off-center errors are off by more than 50%, meaning only half the design has been struck on the coin, the other half of the coin is typically blank. With off-center coins, the values usually escalate as more and more of the design is missing, and prices do vary widely, depending on the type of coin. Many are worth $50 and up, and several are worth well into the hundreds of dollars.

Clipped planchets are the final type of error coin we’ll discuss here. The device which cuts the planchets out of the huge strips of metal that first enter the mint sometimes cuts a planchet more than once. When this happens, it can cut away a portion of the planchet, resulting in various-sized crescents. Most clipped coins are worth between $5 and $100, depending on the type of coin, grade, amount of missing metal, etc.

 

Other Types Of Error Coins

Remember, these are just a few of the many interesting and exciting types of error coins. There are many more types of coin mistakes, some of which are illustrated below:

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, and living green with others.

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Fun From Around the Web

  • mike

    I have 2 pennies that have small bubbles on them. is this rare?

  • Anonymous

    I’m thinking about buying a 2009 Ultra High Relief Mint Error MS69. Does anyone know how much I should pay?

  • Steph70764

    I have a 1964-D Jefferson nickels appeared with PLURIBUS
    misspelled as PLURIDUS is this coin worth anything

    • Anonymous

      Steph,

      Your nickel is probably a filled die. Though interesting, there really isn’t much added monetary value. However, your best chance of making money from the coin should you decide to sell is to show the piece to error coin collectors — they will be most interested in buying the piece.

  • Joanne

    I was checking my coins today, and found a 2002 dime, which the last 2 is very hard to even see. I didn’t find anything in my guide (2011) about that year of any found, would it be called under-strikes? Just wondering if you’ve seen anything concerning that. I put another same year next to it, which actually was a bit worn looking, and definately different stamping, way more clear.

  • Joanne

    I was checking my coins today, and found a 2002 dime, which the last 2 is very hard to even see. I didn’t find anything in my guide (2011) about that year of any found, would it be called under-strikes? Just wondering if you’ve seen anything concerning that. I put another same year next to it, which actually was a bit worn looking, and definately different stamping, way more clear.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Joanne –

      It sounds like a fairly typical situation where the dime was weakly struck or there was grease in die (the device that impresses a design onto a blank coin). I’ve seen many dimes and pennies that have weakness in the last digit of the date.

      While these types of coins are a bit of a curiosity, they really aren’t worth anything extra because of the weakness.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Joanne –

      It sounds like a fairly typical situation where the dime was weakly struck or there was grease in die (the device that impresses a design onto a blank coin). I’ve seen many dimes and pennies that have weakness in the last digit of the date.

      While these types of coins are a bit of a curiosity, they really aren’t worth anything extra because of the weakness.

  • thomas dunne

    hi i have a 1847 usa one cent but there ia a mint error on the spelling. it says one cunt and theother side is the head wich is upside down. IS this cent any value. kind regards tom dunne

    • Anonymous

      Thomas,

      There’s been no reported error like that — it sounds like someone altered your 1847 cent, and that means it wouldn’t have much value in the numismatic market; I don’t know the grade of the coin, but an altered piece like that, in typical, well-worn grades might bring only a few dollars.

    • Anonymous

      Thomas,

      There’s been no reported error like that — it sounds like someone altered your 1847 cent, and that means it wouldn’t have much value in the numismatic market; I don’t know the grade of the coin, but an altered piece like that, in typical, well-worn grades might bring only a few dollars.

  • thomas dunne

    hi i have a 1847 usa one cent but there ia a mint error on the spelling. it says one cunt and theother side is the head wich is upside down. IS this cent any value. kind regards tom dunne

  • M Carl

    Josh, today I came across a 1951D penny that looked strange. It was only about 3/4 the thickness of a regular cent and the back was not stamped at all. Looking at the back side you can see a very slight indentation where Lincoln’s head appears. The rear has the raised ring around the outside edge. What should I do with this thing?

  • M Carl

    Josh, today I came across a 1951D penny that looked strange. It was only about 3/4 the thickness of a regular cent and the back was not stamped at all. Looking at the back side you can see a very slight indentation where Lincoln’s head appears. The rear has the raised ring around the outside edge. What should I do with this thing?

  • Quijada Yvonne

    im looking for a price on a silver doller thats from 1922 1923 that has a mistake on it the u is a v over it

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Quijada –

      The “V” is supposed to be there; it’s a stylized way of writing the “U” in IN GOD WE TRUST. The value of your coin is around $25 to $30.

  • Glassmom46545

    I have a 2010 dime that is smaller than a regular dime, and the edge is smooth copper like a penny.  Is this a real “error” that could be worth something?

    • Anonymous

      Hmm… Would you mind posting a pic on the Fun Times Guide to Coins Facebook page? Thanks. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheFunTimesGuideToCoins

      • Sgrands

        I have a 1967 dime that is the same description. The copper edge is raised quite a bit too.

  • Nicoledumarce_14

    my boyfriend has a two headed quarter, i wanted to know if it was actually worth anything.

    • Anonymous

      I’m afraid not, Nicole. These types of coins are common novelty pieces either altered from real coins or cast in a mold and are designed for winning bets (often as a joke) or as an interesting conversation piece.

  • Richard

    have lincoln cent with one cent writing beckward and on to writing the correct way and also the  united states is wring beckard but only some of the letters like you can only see ted and sta can anyone tell me the value of this coin

  • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

    That would be a vulgar novelty coin.

  • Animari369

     Maria Theresa
     Can You please tell me something about this quarter?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Maria -

      That piece is quite something to look at, but because it is damaged, it’s worth only face value.

  • Rappman

    I have a 1992 quarter (Deleware state series) that appears to be similar to the one pictured above the Face side is copper and the reverse side is silver in color, one layer appears to have been missing when the coin was struck, do you have any idea of the value?

  • Coleman16

    i have a 1967 u.s half dollar with a detachabel collar on the outside of the coin. no idea what it’s for, thought it was a war medal. any help would be appreciated.

  • Rachelle Duran

    I have four wheat pennies and I wanted to no how much they could be worth, the years are between 1951-1957 and are in great condition.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Rachelle, -

      Lincoln wheat cents are in general rather common, even though they aren’t found much in circulation anymore. Except for the 1955 doubled die cent (the date and lettering on the obverse side of this coin appears to have a secondary, ghost image), any worn Lincoln cents during the 1951 to 1957 era you mentioned are worth around 3 to 5 cents each. By the way, the 1955 doubled die cent is worth around $1,000 and up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ironicmike Mike Moran

    i have a u.s dime that is smaller than normal ,also has tall outer edge like it was pressed wrong could it be worth anything

  • aaron

    i have a penny one side is a 1951 with no mint mark and the otherside is a 1952 with a denver mint mark . is there any value in it .

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Aaron -

      What you have is a novelty coin, most likely used either as a sight gag for an illusionist or a piece made to “win” coin tosses. These don’t really have any numismatic value.

  • ed

    I have a colorado quarter that is not the right metal make up. The color is off and itts lighter in edight and sounds like silver

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Ed -

      A silver quarter would actually weigh more than a typical copper-nickel clad quarter, not less. You may have an aluminum replica or something of the sort, though by law a coin replica should say “copy” on it.

  • Kurt Kriescher

    I have a 1944-D zinc coated steel penny how much is that

  • Albert

    i have a wheat penny with only the year number of 195 does it have any value

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Albert -

      Thanks for your question. There really is no added value to such a coin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/angela.carcifiernst Angela Carcifi-Ernst

    Hello. I found a Lincoln Memorial coin…it has his bio on one side than his picture on the other. Do you happen to know where this was from? Also, I have a 1980 penny and the one side is thicker than the other…thank you

  • m410@tirekingdom.com

    i have a half struck dime mint error. what is it worth in good condition?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      A half off-center dime is worth around $5 to $20, based largely on if the date is evident (worth more in that case).

  • gwen

    HI I HAVE THIS COIN THAT WAS MADE IN 1942 THE FRONT HAS THE MERCURY WING HEAD LIKE THE DIME HOWEVER THE BACK HAS THE MONTICELLO FIVE CENTS MINT S . CAN’T FIND OUT ONLINE.
    Gwen

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Gwen -

      You seem to be describing a novelty coin; either it is two halves, one side consisting of a 1942 Mercury dime and the other an S-mint Jefferson nickel, soldered together, or the piece is a token made by an enterprising individual as a gag effect, perhaps for a magic trick.

  • eva

    I have a 1941 dime with awheat penny on the other side is it real?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Eva -

      What you have is a type of novelty coin, and perhaps quite likely a piece intended as an illusion for a magician. Though a neat conversation piece, it was not originally made that way at the U.S. Mint and is not really worth more than a couple dollars.

      Thank you for your question!

  • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

    Hi, Sophia -

    May we see a photo of your coin?

    Thank you!

    • Sophia

      yes you may.

      • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

        From what I can tell, it looks like your coin suffered damaged caused by a machine.

        • Sophia

          please just don’t tell me its a novelty:-) could it be a mint error,maybe?.what kinda machine?

  • Amanda Scott

    I have a 2002 p dime that has raised edges on both sides of the coin, and the outside of the coin is smooth. Is this an anomaly, or just caused by wear? I have attached a photo with another dime to compare it to.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Amanda,

      Usually, when a coin’s rim is extra high it is due to finning which is caused when a coin is struck with more pressure than usual.

      However, given the fact the edge of your coin is smooth, your coin may have suffered damage in either a clothes dryer or perhaps it received damage in a coin machine slot. Either way, though, the smoothness would have been caused by edge wear of some type.

  • Dawn Berard

    I have a 1955 D/D not the strong one but still a D/D the interesting thing is the S in the word TRUST is an upside down #2 any ideas?

  • Cheryl

    I have a 2005 Minnesota state quarter that looks like the one you have pictured on this site. The face has the “penny look” and the other side is regular. Is this worth anything? Thanks.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Cheryl -

      The coloration of that quarter is due to both lighting conditions but also toning. Without seeing a photo of your coin, I can’t say for certain the cause of your quarter’s color, but I can say that many of the 50 States Quarters have been gold plated. Gold plated quarters have only nominal value above the face value of the coin for two reasons: coins that have been plated outside of the U.S. Mint are viewed as “altered” by numismatists, and also the amount of gold on plated coins is extremely small; in most cases, less than a dollar of gold is on a gold-plated coin.

      If your quarter has toned a golden color, it may have a small amount of value (maybe anywhere from 25 cents top $1 over face value) to some collectors who prefer toned coins.

      Thanks for your question!

  • Joe Clark

    I have a quarter I think that has a nickel stamp and a quarter stamp on both sides and is thinner without the ridges on sides I don’t no what category this is in

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Joe,

      That’s interesting. From what I can tell from the photo, it appears to be some type of post-mint alteration.

  • jaydar

    I have this 1999 Quarter and one the tails side its colored. But the ink is off my like a milimeter of the actual lettering. Its not a marker cause it wont come off and the lettering is perfect. Is it worth any money?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Jaydar -

      Your coin was colored by a private individual or company; these pieces, though real coins, are considered novelty coins (“altered” according to many numismatists), and usually have the most value to a person collecting that said specific type of coin.

      Yours is worth around $1 to $2 in a typical novelty marketplace setting.

  • Tim

    Can you find the error on this quarter? Thank you.

  • Tim

    There is a ‘leaf’ growing on the 1 of 1958. I don’t know such error belong to what category and how value will it be. Any help Joshua? Thank you.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Tim -

      Yes, this appears to be some type of die cud; values for these errors vary. However, I’d suggest your coin would likely be worth at least $15 to $20 if sold to a coin dealer.

      • Tim

        Thank you for the reply. You are right. It’s some kind of die break.

  • Tim

    This is a better picture.

  • St. eve

    I have a 2009 penny with silver mixed in the copper . It also has Lincoln standing on the back
    shoosline@gmail.com

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, St. Eve -

      Hmm… It could be either some of the coin’s zinc interior showing through or a coating that was applied to the coin for the sake of novelty. The 2009 Lincoln cent is part of a commemorative series that you can learn more about by reading this link: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/02/2009_lincoln_cent.php

      • St. eve

        It definitly has silver showing.. the edges are almost dime like. lincoln on front is doubled and its not perfectly round…..and don’t seem to be a machine like dryer ect.. that caused it…..ill send a pic

        • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

          That would be great if you would send a photo, St. Eve! Thank you.

  • JERRY

    HI MY NAME I S JERRY I HAVE 1997D PENNY THIS IS RED IN COLORE ALMOST BLOOD RED BUT THE DATE ALSO SAYS 1999 ALSO IS THIS A DOUBLE DENOMINATION COIN? MEDAL IS THE COLOR OF BLOOD RED AFTER IT HITS AIR AND 1999 THE DATE IS RIGHT UNDER 1997 UNDER CAMERA IT SHOWS BOTH DATES

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi, Jerry,

      It sounds like your 1997-D was altered in some way to include the 1999 date. While it is difficult to say what the coin is meant to commemorate, it was definitely altered by some private individual. The toning you mention also seems like it might have been induced by an intentional chemical interaction.

  • Elizabeth

    I found a Lincoln penny from 1980. But the “1″ is missing from “1980.” How much would something like this be worth?

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hi Elizabeth -

      It looks like this 1980 penny has been severely damaged. Such a coin is numismatically worth face value.

  • Mason Storm

    joshua
    hello and thank you for looking at my coin …i found this 2012 D penny in circulation the other day and i found it to be very interesting and was wondering what you could tell me about it .
    thank you

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello there, Mason!

      From what I can tell, it looks as though somebody scraped off the copper coating of your penny around the edge and the high surfaces, exposing its zinc core.

      Thank you for posting those great images so I could see exactly what’s going on!

      • Mason Storm

        Your welcome…and thanks again for the information…its always fun to find something unusual in pocket change!!!

  • jchoo

    Hi I have a 1955 Denver Mint penny and the rim on the face side seems to be over bent while the obverse side has no rim at all. Also the rim is curving in and i can’t seem to find out what happened or what it is worth.
    please help, thanks Sam

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, Jchoo -

      It’s a little hard to say for sure without seeing a photo of the coin. If you wouldn’t mind posting an image, I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out what’s going on with your coin. Thank you for your question!

  • John T

    Hi,
    Sorry pictures are just above.
    Warning the picture bellow features a 2 cent shield nickel with a font error/alteration that may be described as explicit by some, and should there for not be viewed if you are would find yourself offended. This is a genuine inquiry, about a genuine coin, which to the best of my investigations can not be determined as an error, or as an alteration.

    I have 1867 shield 2 cent nickel, with a font error, and sounds similar to a wheat cent mentioned below where “CENTS” was struck with a “U” instead of an “E.. Though I am having a hard time deciding wether it was an alteration, or a strike/minting error.
    The right hand vertical line of the “U” is broken, about half way up, with a serif pointing in towards the centre of the U at the broken point.. Above this break, a line continues, but is not as well defined as below the strange serif. If you ignore the small line just mentioned, the character looks like a back-to-front “J”. The coin looks legitimate, with very little wear, except for the “We” in “God we Trust”, having lost almost all definition. The “U” character does, and at the same time does NOT, look like an alteration. If you look at this strange thin line above the break in the back to front J, that then makes it into a U, and compare it to another E on the coin, you can see that this could be the remnants of triangular shape that makes the top horizontal line on the E. However if you look at the bottom of the “U” it has distinctly defined curves that and E does not have. Above the “U” in the lower horizontal line of the “2″, and in the cup/field within the “U” a small vertical depression can be seen, as though that part of the strike was not formed, in both of those spots.

    The coin is is G – F, with the only sign of significant wear being the loss of the word “We” in the inscription in god we trust, and other characters, and bows loosing a small amount of definition.

  • John T

    These are the photos for the description posted below.

    • JoshuaTheFunTimesGuide

      Hello, John -

      Thanks for providing the warning about the language on the coin. It looks like somebody intentionally manipulated the “E” in “CENTS,” as I can see with the gouge and the pushed-up/rearranged metal around the damage. The coin may has some numismatic value as even damaged 2 Cent pieces, given their age, are worth from $5 to $10. However, I’m not sure if a coin dealer would buy this piece and be able to sell it given the unfortunate obscenity on the coin.

      Thank you for your question!

  • Guest

    I have a Thai coin that has no face of the man on it. How much could it be made?

  • Sky

    I have a Thai coin that has no face of the man on it. How much could it be sold for?