Article by:

Raymond Gaudette
Error World Webmaster

Numismatic Musings
Thoughts From a Curious Mind

“It may not be unique, but it sure is one-of-a-kind.”
– Recent comment from an on-line auction listing for an error/variety coin.

RIP Pete “DaNutt” Bishal – On Sunday, October 12th 2003, the error hobby lost a legend when Pete Bishal passed away suddenly at a New York coin show. Pete will always be remembered for his research on the development of the Morgan Dollar and his passion for error coins. Pete was a friend and will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Rest in peace my friend.

Auction Photos - Did you ever notice that many auction photos, primarily for high priced coins, are unseeable? I see cents that are just black circles, dollars that are so blurred as to be unrecognizable and others that look like they were photographed from across the room. What message do you suppose these sellers think they are imparting by using these pictures?

Errors/Varieties – I always like an error/variety that I can see with my naked eye. I will even concede that some errors are cool when a 10X loupe is required. But high priced errors that I can’t see even with the magnified photos that accompany them just get passed by. What is the limit on magnification before we say enough is enough?

Speaking Of Errors – How many of you have noticed the ad in a recent major coin publication, purporting to sell “The First Major U.S. Mint Error Set in 13 Years”. What is the error? The Mint included the wrong set certificate describing the composition of the included coins for the silver proof set. This set certificate is the same one that is included with the clad proofs. No error has yet been discovered on any of the silver proof coins. The Mint has subsequently mailed the correct set certificates to all collectors who purchased the silver proof sets and received the clad set certificate. Wouldn’t you think that major coin publications would be a little more selective in what they let their advertisers sell?

Mint Inconsistency – I was recently looking over the Patterns website ( and began wondering about the Mint’s inconsistent pattern of enforcement regarding its stated position on confiscation. They threaten to confiscate 1933 $20 Double Eagles and some Washington/Sacagawea Mules if they appear because they state that they were never officially released and declared money. They also allow beautiful pattern coins to be owned and displayed even though they were never released and declared money. It’s not like anyone is going to try and spend a Double Eagle and defraud someone, now is it?

Mint Misses The Point – The stated purpose for the Mint’s desire to catch all the errors and other products that never left “legally” and were never declared “money” misses the point entirely. While it is laudable for someone to want to clean up their mistakes, they are not simply dealing with a bunch of money hungry investors outside of the Mint. We collectors are actually art enthusiasts at heart. I enjoy studying all of the patterns and errors as art, and they are great art! The patterns are awesome. I can spend a great deal of time discovering all of the beautiful details that the sculptor embedded in his product and lament that it never made it to circulation. The errors are a fascination in how things can go wrong, yet create something beautiful.

Counterfeits – Counterfeit coins are alive and well on the auction sites. Wouldn’t you think that this would be an area where the authorities could spend some time? They make the folks who produce replicas ruin an otherwise beautiful coin by stamping COPY on it somewhere while letting the admitted counterfeit coins trade on the net. Don’t get me wrong, I would add a counterfeit 1916-D Mercury Dime to my collection if the price was right, but even these fake coins command a high price! Don’t you feel pity for the poor fellow who felt the need to counterfeit Jefferson Nickels?

Coin Cleaning – Words of wisdom – Never ever attempt to clean your coins! It ruins their value!

Check Your Change – One of the greatest thrills I get from numismatics is checking through my change. I like to get rolls of coins from the bank and see what I can find. I concentrate on Kennedy Half Dollars because no one uses them and they just languish in the vaults of the Federal Reserve Banks. Recently I have found several proof clad Kennedys, a number of 40% silver examples and some 90% silver 1964 Kennedys. You just never know what will turn up!

COINValues From Coin World – Kudos to Coin World on their fine new publication, COINValues, which replaces their Trends coin values listing. As a slick magazine it is a perfect compliment to their newspaper publication. Lots of ads, full color photos, articles and we only have to go 46 pages into the publication to find the coin values too! The downside is that they are going to charge us for it by raising the price of the combined newspaper/magazine.

Author! Author! – It has just come to my attention that we will soon have a new author in our midst! Mike Byers has just announced that he is writing and publishing a book on major mint errors. The title for the book is Mint Error Guide and if anyone can do a masterful job on the subject it is our own Mike Byers! I’ve been told it is 300 pages and all in color. I can’t wait for the book to come out so that I can find out more information on those gorgeous errors that I can only see in Mike’s museum. Good going Mike.

Error World Medal – Submissions for the Error World Medal contest have been closed and all that remains is the judging to see who will win a solid gold rendition of the selected design for the club medal. Many fine designs have been submitted and the judging will be tough!

New Nickels In 2004 – New Jefferson Nickels with the new design are slated for release in the Spring of 2004 and I know that I will be putting away a couple of rolls for posterity. They represent the first change in the nickel design since 1938 but they will still honor President Jefferson. This design is scheduled to run for three years and then who knows what will happen?

Copyright Ⓒ 2003 All rights reserved. Legal notice.