The Perfect Flaw

The Perfect Flaw

Unfortunately, not everything in life is perfect; the same is true for striking coins. Throughout history, there have been mishaps with the machinery, test runs that did not go anywhere near as planned and even intentional hiccups orchestrated by Mint employees. How and why have certain, imperfect pieces throughout history been deemed worthy of being collectibles? What makes them worth more than others?

Also known as “mis-strikes” and “mint errors”, the “Quasimodo’s” of the coin community come in every shape, size and type, thus their present day values vary widely as well. While there are notably over 20 different types of errors, this will serve to provide a brief overview of just a few hidden gems potentially still lurking in circulation.

Die Caps

Die caps occur when the coin itself becomes stuck to the upper hammer of the die. As the new coins pass through the die, the reverse of the stuck then becomes the face for any of the new blank pieces coming through to be impressed. As the process is repeated, the “new die cap” is consistently pushed and warped. The once intended coin then begins to take on the shape of a thimble.

These errors have been known to collect as much as $50 for a Lincoln Memorial penny mis-strike, to $75,000 for a Barber Quarter and Large Cent obverse cap uncirculated.


Quite possibly the best-known and common type of the error coins are the Off-Center strikes. This misfortune happens when the intended coin is mis-fed through the die, resulting in a partial impression on the coin and the remaining surface area left blank.

The Off-Center variety has been known to fetch as little as $40 for the 1943 Lincoln Steel, circulated and upwards of $125,000 for the Peace Dollar, uncirculated.

Partial Collars

A malfunction in the positioning of the coin and improperly seated coins running through the die, are what contribute to Partial Collars. The band design is only partially struck, therefore creating a half band or sometimes one so faint, it can barely be seen around the rim. The Mint has recently begun using a new technology and machinery so that the die can be installed in any position, thus decreasing the chance of partial collars being produced.

Circulated partial collars range from $20 for a Susan B. Anthony or Kennedy Half Clad/Dollar. Uncirculated $20 Liberty errors have reaped $10,000 for donning their partial collars.

Proof Errors

Every so often, a technician intentionally hand-feeds blank coins through the dies with the intent to
produce an error. These coins, known as Proof Errors, are thoroughly examined and packaged through intense quality control and sold or auctioned off as sets. Proof Errors are typically sold in sets and rarely make it out of the mint for circulation. Though once sold, the buyer or collector can then disperse the set and sell each one as individual coins if they so please. These sets are some of the most aggressively sought after by collectors.

The price for individually sold Proof Errors ranges from $500 for a partial collar Lincoln cent to $25,000 for a double or triple struck Eisenhower dollar.

There are still many more error coins to be explored, if you feel you may be in possession of one of the above mentioned or a remainder within this group of less than perfect strikes, Bellevue Rare Coins would be more than happy to assist you with an appraisal or assessment of your item.

Bellevue Rare Coins specializes in gold, silver, diamond, and jewelry buying, as well as dealing in rare coins. They now offer a vast selection of fine, vintage and custom designed jewelry. They are a family-owned business location in Bellevue, Lynnwood, and West Seattle. Visited anyone of their three friendly locations for the best deals you will find selling or buying. Trusted local business since 1979.

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