Wednesday, January 9, 2019

1/9/19 Report - Million Dollar Penny From Lunch Money. Reflecting on Metal Detecting and Error Coins.

Written by the treasureguide for the exclusive use of

1943 Penny Thought Worth $1.7 Million.
Source: link (See below).

This 1943 penny found in a boy's lunch money is going up for auction and thought to be worth $1.7 million dollars.  

As you know, to help the war effort pennies were made of zinc coated steel in 1943, but a small number (probably 20 or less) were mistakenly made of copper.  Those are among the most famous and valuable coin errors of all.

Here is the link for the story on this penny.  Thanks to Dean R. for the link.

That is one reason I always pick up pennies and do not discriminate pennies..  They can be valuable too if you know what to look for.

Unfortunately I did not learn much about coin collecting and error coins until fairly recently.  I received a book as a Christmas present - Strike It Rich With Pocket Change: Error Coins Bring Big Money by Ken Potter and dr. Brian Allen.  The Potter and Allen book only covers modern US coins up to recent years, so you might need to occasionally consult other sources.  There are older error coins and new errors being discovered all the time.
Not only can you scan your finds for valuable coins, but you can also find valuable coins in your pocket change.   I now enjoy doing both.

Don't think you will find a lot error coins all the time.  The majority of coins do not have any extra value - especially those in poor condition - but you will find some, and there is always the possibility of something big like the penny shown above.  Condition is an important factor, even if the error is rare.

I have one book that lists around 800 different valuable Lincoln cent errors from 1909 up to recent years.  That is only pennies, so you can figure how many types of error coins exist.

That book is Lincoln Cent Error Coin Guide 2019, by Stan McDonald.  The Potter and Allen book is a much better book if you want to identify error coins.  The McDonald book only lists them.  It has very few pictures and is not much help in identifying error coins - only listing them.

Valuable error coins include die errors, such as doubled dies, repunched mint marks, off-center strikes, struck on wrong planchet, struck on wrong metal (such as the one above), die cracks, lamination errors, clipped planchets, strike-throughs and more.

Wheat Penny Showing Strike-through

In the short time I've been looking for error coins I've found some interesting die cracks and strike-throughs.  I haven't found any good doubled dies yet, or any certain repunched mint marks.

The web site is very helpful when you aren't sure about a coin.  The community will provide their helpful comments and opinions on your coins.  There are also web sites that will verify and classify error error coin discoveries.

When you begin searching for error coins, it might be frustrating.  It can be difficult to tell the difference between damaged coins and coins with real mint errors.  And as you would expect, valuable examples are not real common, yet they can be found.

The strike-through shown above was created by something being on the coin planchet when the coin was struck.  It could easily be mistaken for a simple scratch, but it is not.

Damaged Coin - Not Error Coin
This penny might look like an error coin, but it is only a coin damaged by acid.  That is the opinion of people more expert than I.

I do recommend giving it a try.  The Potter and Allen book can be a good starting place.  It has a lot of pictures and tells you what to look for.

Like anything else, you have to go through a period of learning to become knowledgeable.  That is why good books and web sites are very helpful.  It is another one of those things that you can never learn everything about.  It is a continuing learning process.

I've said this before, but one of the problems with coins that are found by metal detectors is that a lot of them are in poor condition and coin collectors generally only like coins in fine condition.  Even error coins must be in great condition to bring the highest prices.

Learning about error coins and coin varieties can make coin-shooting more interesting and profitable even when it is not easy to find older silver and gold coins.

Another thing you will need is some good magnification.   There are a variety of tools you might use for that.  Maybe I'll do another post on that some day.

Of all the regrets that I have about metal detecting, the vast majority were caused by simply not knowing enough a the time.  I wish I had known more about coin collecting back when I was really digging a lot of coins.  When I started metal detecting I was targeting coins.  Later I started targeting gold, but was still digging tons of coins.  I wish I had known what to look for when all of those coins passed through my hands.


We haven't been getting much surf lately.  Friday it might be up to four feet, but that is all.

Happy hunting,