I remember buying my first off-center penny for 35 cents in 1973. My best friend's dad had been collecting errors and would show us his recent purchases. A double denomination Quarter on a Dime for $200, a Franklin on a Dime for $250. Wow those were cool, but that was a lot of money to an eleven year old. A mini bike was 35 bucks and that took a lot of car washing back then.
When I wanted to find errors most coin stores didnít carry them and the term for them was a "fido." A real dog, a freak. They couldnít be graded because they were so messed up. Most people didnít want anything to do with them. I remember calling around to coin stores and asking for errors and getting met with a chuckle, ďOh, you are one of those guys, we donít carry any of that kind of malarkey here! This is a respectable establishment." They thought I was nuts. We would get bags and rolls from the bank and go through them until we were cross-eyed, which at that age could take days. World errors were something even worse. Nobody but the very few even knew they existed much less wanted anything to do with them.
Things have changed dramatically in the past 10 years. In 1991 ANACS was the first major grading service to certify error coins. Wow! I could actually get errors that were certified! That was a major move to the credibility of error collecting. Then eBay came along and you could find errors from the comfort of your desk at 2 AM. And you could find others who wanted to buy anything you that you had to sell. That made a huge difference in the value because you could now sell the coin to someone else who actually wanted it. In the old days if I wanted to sell an error I had purchased that I no longer wanted, if I went back to the dealer I bought it from he would offer me 75% of what I paid for it. Ebay has helped change all that. It has done what no other form of advertising or marketing could do before.
What I do wish is that I could have had the foresight to buy the double denominations and off metal Franklinís and all the really cool stuff back in the old days. It was more of a pure love of error collecting back then because you werenít sure you could get your money back out of these coins. Franklin off metals went for over 10k last year. Double denominations are becoming harder to acquire and are more valuable. World errors are still plentiful and cheap and the best bargain around. I recently purchased an off metal capped die English error for $200. If that same coin was a U.S. error it would surely cost thousands.
If we use the same formula today from 30 years ago and look to the future, an off center penny will be worth $128 in 2028. My English off-metal cap is harder to predict because they have not caught up with the rest of the market and there is so much more room for them to move. Using the same formula as the off center penny, my off-metal English die cap would be worth $3,200.
The difference today from 30 years ago is that we now know that people want errors. There is an incredible demand and very limited supply. It is the hottest segment of numismatics today. They are now certified by all the major grading services whom have followed in ANACS' footsteps and started grading them too.
The Mint has almost eliminated the release of errors. This is due to the new Schuler Presses and the quality control procedures that have been implemented. An off-center penny from 2002 sells for $600. Will I be laughing at what seems to be the high price I am paying for U.S. errors today? Will I be hysterical about the price I am paying for world errors? Due to the limited supply, high demand and the increasing popularity in collection mint errors, I'm confident that these prices will be considered cheap. I also derive much personal pleasure from this hobby, which is really why I collect at all.