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Interested in collecting error coins? Today we’ll cover the 6 most common types of error coins and tips on how to find them.

Why Collect Error Coins?

Denominations of various coins in collection of pocket change in business and finance.
Pocket Change

Coin collecting is a rewarding hobby in itself, but finding coins with errors in them can be even more rewarding. Apart from the thrill of owning an unusual piece of history, your oddball coin could be worth a significant amount of money!

The best part about error coins is you don’t have to necessarily buy them from a dealer – you can often times find them in your own pocket change or even while coin roll hunting.

Ultimately, the decision to sell a rare coin for a profit or keep it in your collection is up to you. Either way, it would help to know what types of errors to look for in coins and how to identify and detect them. 

Common Error Coin Types 

Coin errors can vary from trivial to significant. Keep in mind that not all errors will increase the value of the coin in question. 

Even so, you won’t know how valuable a particular coin is without having it assessed by an expert, so it pays to know what to look out for. Here are some of the most common errors that could increase the value of a coin: 

1. Inscription errors.

Most errors in coins occur in the inscriptions. Some errors to look out for are missing letters and doubling. In most cases, doubling occurs only in part of a word. 

2. Date and mint mark errors.

Errors with the date and mint mark are somewhat less common. However, they can increase the value of the coin significantly. Keep an eye out for over-punches, re-punched dates and mint marks, doubling, and similar errors. 

3. Errors on the primary element.

Errors on the portrait will almost certainly increase the value of the coin. Check both faces for anything that looks out of the ordinary, such as doubling and missing elements. 

4. Materials errors.

Some coins may have all the elements in place but may use materials other than what they are normally made from. Read up on the types of metals typically used for common coin types and learn to identify them by sight. 

5. Die rotation errors.

You can detect die rotation errors by the orientation of the elements on the opposite side. Look at the face of the coin and make sure that it is precisely right side up. Turn the coin over and check to see that the opposite side’s elements are right side up as well. 

Most die rotation errors will be immediately apparent. Coins with significant displacement can be moderately valuable. But those in which the elements are 180° out of place are the most valuable. 

6. Edge errors.

Finally, scrutinize the edge of your coin. It might help to roll it across your palm so that you can inspect the entire edge. Some errors to look out for are lines, seams, missing edges, and other anomalies. Check for doubling or missing letters along the edge as well. 

If you are new to error coin collecting, a fantastic resource is the book Strike It Rich With Pocket Change: Error Coins Bring Big Money by Ken Potter. It features close-up images of common errors and gives you exact coin denominations with the year and error to look for.

Whether you collect pennies, nickels, dimes, or quarters, the book is truly one of my favorites that I turn to every time I’m coin roll hunting.

Essential equipment for Finding Error Coins

Most major errors are easily detectable even without any special equipment. Handling the coins and thoroughly inspecting every element should quickly reveal any flaws or imperfections.

However, some errors may be more difficult to detect and require specific tools and accessories. Here are some items that could make it easier for you to see less apparent errors: 

  • A jeweler’s loupe, magnifying glass or digital microscope 
  • A desk lamp 
  • A piece of cloth 
  • A compartmentalized case for sorting coins 

These items should be enough to get you started. If you do find a coin worth keeping, make sure you have a suitable way to store it to prevent loss or damage.

How to Identify Coins with Errors 

Now that you know what to look for, how do you go about inspecting your coins for errors? Whether you are working with your personal coin collection or a lot of old coins purchased from a collector or auction, the process is pretty much the same. Here are the basic steps for inspecting a batch of coins for common errors:

1. Sort coins by denomination 

Start by organizing your coins. The method can vary depending on your preferred style of working, but most experienced collectors opt to group their coins by denomination. 

Why should you examine batches of the same denomination? Working solely with dimes or nickels will make it easier for you to spot any anomalies.

As you sort through the same types of coins, you will fall into a sort of pattern and become accustomed to seeing the same elements again and again. If anything out of the ordinary comes up, you will quickly be able to detect it. 

2. Examine inscriptions 

The next step is to pay close attention to the obverse inscriptions of the coins. In particular, you will want to look closely for any unusual characteristics in the lettering. 

Be thorough and deliberate, as many errors won’t look odd or unusual at first glance. Remember that doubling–which is a fairly common error–often occurs only on part of the word. 

These errors are usually caused by abrasion, polishing, or even dirt buildup on the die face. Therefore, they can show up on any coin. 

3. Check the date 

The most valuable coins are those with date and mint mark errors. For this reason, experienced collectors spend most of their time inspecting these particular features. 

There are many possible errors involving date and mint markings. Some of the most common of these are re-punching or over-punching and doubling. 

When checking the mint mark, you might check to see if the coin is still in circulation. Indian Head pennies and Buffalo nickels are among the obsolete coins that are still frequently mixed in with current coins. 

4. Examine the primary features 

Errors involving the primary features are almost impossible to miss. Even so, it would help if you took the time to examine both sides of the coin thoroughly to make sure that you don’t miss anything. 

Check the portrait and the opposite side carefully. Does anything seem odd or out of the ordinary? Are there obvious signs of doubling? Are there missing elements? These are some of the most important questions to ask when examining the primary features of your coins. 

5. Check the die rotation 

Checking for die rotation errors is as simple as turning the coin over. With most currencies, both sides’ images and text are positioned at opposing orientations relative to each other. If the image on one side faces right-side-up, turning the coin side-to-side will show the upside-down image opposite. 

Turn the coin over and check to see that the other side’s image is exactly right side up. Even a slight deviation could increase the coin’s value. If the image is facing the same way, you could have a valuable and collectible coin on your hands. 

6. Check the reverse side 

Check the “tails” side of the coin just as thoroughly as you check the “head”. This side is just as prone to errors, so look out for anomalies such as doubling and missing elements. Check the mint mark as well, and hold the coin up to the light at different angles. This will make it easier for you to see if there is anything out of place. 

7. Examine the edge of the coin 

The final step is to examine the edge for seams, unusual lines, or missing edges. Roll the coin slowly between both palms to feel for anomalies that you might miss with a visual inspection. Afterward, you could inspect the edges more thoroughly with your loupe or magnifying glass. 

These steps should provide you with a basic foundation for identifying common errors in coins. Take your time to inspect every coin you come across, and you might just be rewarded for your efforts. 

Do you enjoy hunting for error coins? What types of coin errors have you found recently? Have any additional tips to share on how to spot and find error coins? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below!


    1. Hi Louis, it would be very hard to know without looking at it – I would try posting it in some of the coin collecting Facebook groups or similar sites.

      1. The L and I on the word Liberty on a 1974 Eisenhower dollar are lightly stamped. The other letters are clear. Is this a common issue?

    2. I have several wheat pennies with no mint-marketing.1907 Indian Head penny no marking one 1990 penny no marking a 1945 quarter no marking a 1941 nickel no marking could these coins have any value.

      1. Most coins with no mint mark are often from the Philadelphia mint but even pennies that were produced at the other mints often do not bear mint marks. That’s not to say the coins don’t have value – it’s just unlikely the lack of a mint mark would be the reason.

        1. This is definitely true for most coins though there are a few exceptions where San Francisco and Denver mints did not have marks – not very common but never hurts to check!

    3. I just bought a coin microscope for 50.00 on line, big difference, first coin I used it on was a 1995-D Lincoln penny, looked like a possible find with my eyes, under the microscope I found the A in States on back seems cracked, left side of the roof on reverse is “floating”, doubling on column and a line at the top that that’s coming out of the field area rather than in like a dent or scratch, all this was on the reverse, possible a wide A also, BIG difference with the microscope I highly recommend one, was using an app on my phone, but now I’ll just delete that, not 20%near what the scope showed.

    4. I just found a 2012 P Alaska Denali quarter that has a error on the reverse. The P of the E-Pluribus Unum has a solid circle pressed around it with the P perfectly centered. There is also a half circle just like it immediately following Denali.

  1. I have a 1969 penny with the letters IN G missing in (in God we trust ) is that worth anything or am I still out of luck…smh

    1. Hi Carter, I would take it to a coin dealer near you to be sure – it depends really whether it was from wear/tear or if it was minted that way. There are a lot of Facebook groups for coin collectors you could ask in as well, though you will probably get a lot of mixed answers! My friend MD Milburn runs a great Facebook group called Penny Lane for penny collectors!

  2. Have 2005 $2 dollar coin that looks to be flattened or clipped at top but it has the makers grooves /lines still pressed in undamaged , you would think if put in vice or hit with hammer ect would damage the grooves from mintage hard to explain , if anyone know or can make sense what I’m on about try send pic

    1. It’d be hard to say Al without an experienced collector/dealer looking at it – it could be a planchet error when the coin was minted, but more likely would be the result of either harsh cleaning or being heated or some other damage after it was minted.

  3. I have a 1978 and 1977 no mint mark quarters how much would they be worth? Also the 1978 has a very dark coloring on the top of the face side and around all the inscriptions on the back side is that normal?

  4. I have a 2006 quarter with a error in the description
    ” IN GOD WE TRUST ” the G in God is not raised and looks to be double striked..while I’m not sure of the double strike of the G the one thing I’m sure of that can be seen is that the G is not raised and at every angle of the coin it is apparent that it is a error coin. Is this coin of value and if so who can I contact to authenticate, appraise for fee and buy my coin..

    1. Hi William! A reputable and experienced coin dealer near you is probably the best bet – PCGS can grade and authenticate your coin but it can sometimes cost more than the value of the coin itself. Hope that helps and would love to hear more about your coin and what you learn about it!

  5. I found a 1943 S Mercury dime with two errors. In the date, the 4 and 3 are touching or almost overlapping and there is a significant space between th 9 and the 4. It looks like the 4 has moved to the right. Also, on the reverse, the S mint mark is canted (tilted) so that the S is not perpendicular the rim, but about 3/4’s out of plum. How do I proceed from here?

    1. That sounds like an awesome find Michael! I would probably show it to a few different coin dealers to get a rough idea of its market value or see if you can find some comps on eBay’s sold listing – I’m not sure it would be enough to justify grading it with PCGs but definitely a neat one to hang onto for any collection!

      1. Ms. Stein,
        Thank you for that information. I have found another coin I could use your expertise on. It is a 1925 (P) Peace Dollar in AU condition or better with perfect halo toning around the rim on the obverse. The reverse looks like it might have some type of glue on it. Any market for this coin as a toned coin? Any marketability for the dime I asked you about yesterday? Thanks so much,

        1. The glue on the back might affect the value a bit if it is indeed glue (some people would glue them into scrapbooks or coin holders before we had archival safe methods!) – damaged coins generally will not fetch much but they are still pretty to have, especially if it has nice toning. It’s always hard to say for sure the marketability of a coin just because things fluctuate and change seasonally. Dealers are probably the best bet to know for sure – as someone else on this thread said it’s nerve wracking to worry if a dealer might take advantage of you, but talking to multiple ones will give you the best idea of the value/demand for it. Are there any upcoming coin shows near you? That’s the best way to find a bunch of dealers in one spot – not to mention meet some great new friends to share the hobby with! If you learn anything about your coins keep us updated – now I’m curious! 🙂

  6. Chelle (Love the spelling, btw),
    Terrific article. Very informative. And to other readers of it who would like to ask about a specific coin you have, the answer has already been given. Without seeing the coin in question either first hand or seeing a clear image of it, take it to a reputable dealer and ask them about your coin. I know you are worried about getting taken advantage of. To mitigate this, if the coin dealer shows any interest in it, keep it and take it to at least one other dealer (more if you can). Or, take a clear, high-res. close-up of your coin and send it to one of the groups or entities she has already identified. If you need other groups, send her that question and she will be happy to help (I think). Otherwise, stop being lazy and do the work. It is a fun hobby, but not an easy one. The initial learning curve is quite steep. If you have an inheritance, shop it around, but in either case, there is no way around doing more work than just asking a professional a question. Sorry. They can’t say this, but I can.

    1. Thanks Mark! I think you are spot on about a lot of people being worried about getting taken advantage of – sadly we’ve all had those experiences where someone tells you it’s not worth anything to try to get you to sell it cheap. Going to a coin show or taking it to multiple dealers is always a good idea – you might even find some new coins for your collection! The hardest part about trying to identify + value a coin online is pictures can be deceiving – not to mention so many variables such as the time of year (ie: holidays, seasons) and the general state of economy + events happening. I’m always happy to help newer collectors navigate so don’t mind the questions – I might need to write a post just on getting over those fears of being told the coin is worth nothing or sketchy dealers lol.

  7. I just found a 2023 D Nickel that should be called a ghost (skull) nickel. Nothing about it is normal. Jeffersons hair has no lines until well below his ear, his mouth is almost totally missing, most of the lettering is thick and barely legible. Also the entire coin has a “frosted” finish, weird. Eerie looking obverse and frosted especially above the dome on reverse and smushed lettering in God We Trust. I honestly feel a blind person could feel the difference between this coin and the normal one next to it. Thank you for the suggestions, I will be taking it to several venues to show it off! It’s too new to be in any book, and I need a coin holder to protect it. Wish me luck!

    1. Hi Larry, sounds like an interesting find indeed! Please let us know what you learn about it after you have a chance to talk about it locally with some different dealers – I’m curious now myself!

  8. There is a very common occurrence on the reverse of Lincoln Memorial pennies that I cannot find any comments about. There is weak detail on “STA” in STATES and the “E” on E PLURIBUS UNUM. Sometimes no copper cladding. I see this on many of the pennies I have searched through looking for errors. Any idea what causes this to occur? Some of them have the appearance of being scraped or rubbed, but most just look like a worn die. Just blank patches on the coin.

    1. Hi Rick! I haven’t noticed or seen this myself but definitely sounds interesting! Have you had a chance to take the coins to any dealers or ask about them in various penny collecting groups? My friend MD Milburn runs a great group of Facebook all about pennies! Someone there with more experience could probably give some insight!

    1. Hi Epifania! Usually the best way to know the value of a coin is take it to a few different reputable dealers locally to you – they are professionally trained + experienced to spot things like this to help you know more about it!

    1. Hi Robert – I am not as familiar with Andrew Jackson coins as I would like to be! Have you tried asking different dealers about it? They are usually great at helping you identify error coins or give you the history of their manufacture!

  9. Hello!! Ive been dabbling in becoming a coin collector… and well I have came across the most unusual coin ive ever saw! At first glance it seems like “someone” may have carved on it.But, after I’ve really examined this looks like its an engraved or scratching pattern mechanically done? Its a Lincoln penny 2006 no mint and this “error”is on the back? Id love to hear anything at all about what this could be thanks so very much.

    1. Hi Sabrina! Some coins have what is called “Post Mint Damage” in which the coin was damaged after manufacturing from unusual use or wear. For example, some pennies are put through those mechanical “souvenir penny machines” but for whatever reason aren’t fully flattened as they should be. Pennies can also get run over, smashed, and even some kids/schools will use pennies for science experiments! Crazy, right? An experienced penny collector will be able to help you identify it but even if its not necessarily valuable or collectible the Post Mint Damaged coins are sometimes beautiful + special in their own ways to collect!

    1. Hi Barbara! I would recommend taking it to a local dealer or coin show to learn more about it! I’m sadly not as familiar with dollar coins as I would like to be, but I’m sure there are dealers and groups on Facebook or other places that would be happy to share what they know about it!

      1. That dollar coin Barbara is asking about the date could be on the edge.
        But I do have a question about my sacagewaea first issue 2000 Denver dollar she has a cud on her lip I’ve searched every where on line and can’t find anything on USA dollar coin cuds. I picked th e coin up in Europe in change and I live in Australia so it’s well travelled I will try to look up a dealer here who specializes in American coins.

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