Article by:

Frank Vedel

Why Do You Collect Error Coins?

I started collecting error coins way back in 1972. My interest in this area started when I found a Danish 2 Ore struck from rotated dies in circulation. There is almost no literature about error coins in Danish, and there are VERY few error coin collectors, so it is rather lonely to be a Danish error collector. I consider myself a true collector because I have never sold or traded a Danish error coin in my 31 years of collecting.

When I talk to ‘normal coin’ collectors I have been asked the same question over and over again: ‘Why do you collect error coins?’. When I joined the internet based Error World Club I wrote e-mails to all the members asking the same question. The replies arrived in private e-mails and on the club’s message board.

The answers were wide and varied, and they were posted from many different places all over the world. There are almost as many different reasons as there are error coin collectors. I chose 41 different reasons which I incorporated in two different error coin polls at Error World Club. Some of the original replies were left out, because they were almost identical.. All the members were invited to take part in the survey. The first error coin poll was launched at July, 23 2001. It is only possible to set up 25 possibilities in each poll, so the first one was soon followed by a second with 16 additional reasons. 1 year and 10 months later 135 EW members have placed 1681 votes on the 41 different reasons to collect numismatic errors. All 41 reasons have received votes from 4% - 61% of the voters. All the voters have chosen an average of 12.5 reasons.

Some of the main tendencies from the survey are:

  • Error coin collecting is unpredictable

  • The hunt is thrilling

  • It’s educational

  • Each mint error is unique in it’s own way

  • There are many different themes to choose from

  • Many error coins have great eye appeal

  • Some collectors started in this field of numismatics, because they found an error coin in their change

  • It’s challenging

This is the full list of the 41 reasons to collect error coins. The votes are shown behind each statement.

  1. The thrill of the hunt is exciting. (83)

  2. Error coins do not have to be old to be collectable. (68)

  3. I collect error coins for their variety. Each coin is unique in it’s own way. (66)

  4. To me it’s a lot more fun than collecting normal coins. Looking for them is like panning for gold. (59)

  5. Understanding how the coin actually became an error is also a big part of it. (58)

  6. An error coin is a source of knowledge of what can go wrong in the manufacturing process. (53)

  7. Continual growth of knowledge is an additive aspect of the hobby. I learn new things all the time, and the pace never seems to slacken. (53)

  8. I just can’t imagine ever finding this hobby boring. (52)

  9. It’s fun to show new great errors to other error collectors and show them to others who have never seen an error coin. (51)

  10. An error coin collector needs to be more knowledgeable about the minting process than the regular coin collector. (51)

  11. They make you think. For some errors it takes hours to come up with a reasonable explanation for their existance. And sometimes you just can’t come up with an explanation that makes any sense. (50)

  12. I like my errors clearly visible to the naked eye, and clearly distinguisable from normal coinage. (50)

  13. I like error coins with great eye appeal - even for a non-collector. (47)

  14. Unique errors are not hard to come by. In what other field of collecting can you purchase a one-of-a-kind example for $50 or less? (47)

  15. Magic still exists in the error collecting field. (44)

  16. They are neat. (44)

  17. There is an infinite variety of combinations and permutations which makes error collecting an open-ended challenge. (42)

  18. There’s just so much to do and see in mint error collecting, it boggles the mind. (42)

  19. Just show one of your great errors to a young collector and watch his eyes dance. THAT’S MAGIC! (42)

  20. There is an allure of owning items that the government didn’t want to get out. (40)

  21. Today, regular coinage is produced in the billions of coins. Where is the challenge and rarity to be found? I can see very few choises except in the field of errors. (39)

  22. To err is human, and one man’s error is another man’s treasure. (39)

  23. It is by its nature very limited - with many great rarities. (38)

  24. There’s so much physics and mechanics involved, which really engages my scientific curiosity whenever I fix my gaze on a new mint error. How did this particular error come to be? What were the processes involved? (37)

  25. I think what attracted me was how obvious it is, even for a non-collector, to see that you’ve got something special in your hand. (37)

  26. Show a regular date/mint collection to a non-collector friend, will he recognize the 1804 dollar as something special? Now show your friend a full brockage, an off center strike, a double strike or an off metal. See the difference? Everybody would pause to look, many would get excited. (37)

  27. New errors or newly recognized errors pop up all the time. (37)

  28. It is interesting to watch differences in the minting process from minting facility to minting facility and changes in the minting process over time. (36)

  29. When collecting errors, it’s wise to cultivate an open mind. Errors are not always what they seem. (36)

  30. I see much more variety in mint errors than in other areas of numismatics (i.e. ‘normal coins’), which allows for great expansion in the coin collecting hobby. (36)

  31. I got interested when I found an error coin in my change. (35)

  32. I don’t remember exactly how I got the error bug but I have it bad. (34)

  33. For me error collecting is the desire to have something that no one else has but everybody wants. (34)

  34. It is fascinating that it is impossible to get a complete collection. (32)

  35. Error coins receive attention by non-collectors. (31)

  36. There are FAR more than just three types of 2000 cents, for example! Besides the ordinary 2000 P & D issues and the San Francisco mint Proof cent, there are broadstrikes, double strikes, off-centers, die caps, off-metals (cent struck on dime planchet), die trial strikes, and of course clips, just to name a few, and every one is different! (30)

  37. The only reason to look at your change. (27)

  38. Debating one’s fellow collectors is an enjoyable aspect. (16)

  39. It’s art. (15)

  40. They reinforce my point at work speaking about quality control. (8)

  41. I don’t collect error coins - I deal in errors. (5)

I was quite amazed to see an absence of anyone who responded with an answer like, “I collect them because it is profitable!.” 5 EW members stated that they are dealers, but I think that there are FAR more collectors who collect numismatic errors because of a profit motive.

During the last two years I have received 82 additional replies from error coin collectors, so the survey is by no means complete. I sometimes refer to the general statistics when I give speeches at Danish coin clubs about our wonderful hobby. If you want to write to me about your motives to collect errors or if you want to see the 82 additional reasons then please contact me at:

If you want to participate in this survey you can find the different polls at Error World Club’s homepage. When you reach the homepage the polls section is found in the orange section to the left of your screen. Click here to view.

You will also get access to 42 other error coin related polls at this site. 33 of these have been ended, and the results are final. 11 open polls are waiting for YOUR votes. They all cover interesting aspects of our interesting hobby. It’s absolutely free, it’s quick and you will probably learn something about your fellow error coin collectors and the hobby in the process. At the moment I have a total 6 error coin related polls running:

  1. ‘Why do YOU collect error coins?’

  2. ‘Why do YOU collect error coins? #2’

  3. ‘Tools of the trade’

  4. ‘Tools of the trade #2’

  5. ‘How long have you been interested in error coin collecting?’

  6. ‘How many error coins do you have in your collection?’

I’d like to thank all the contributors who took time to write about their motives and to everybody who has made this survey possible - by voting.

Copyright Ⓒ 2003 All rights reserved. Legal notice.