SO You Think You Have An Error Coin?
By Jon Warren. Last updated:
You have poured over your old coins, minutely inspecting them for some flaw, double stamp, error or whatever. You have stared at old pennies until you are seeing double. And FINALLY, EUREKA! You think you have found an ERROR!
Hold your horses, cowboy (or cowgirl). Don't have a cardiac just yet.
EUREKA! I HAVE FOUND IT! AN ERROR COIN!
Almost every day, we get emails from excited people who think they have found a rare error coin. And, even more exciting, they "did their research" and found someone selling the exact same coin for one billion dollars (or some other astronomical, unrealistic price). They think they have hit the lottery. And they want to give us the rare opportunity to buy their rare error coin. The only problem: It has not been authenticated by an expert authentication service.
We always appreciate a unique opportunity. Unfortunately, 99.99% of the time, they person does not have an error coin at all. Their 1943 copper cent is a fake, with an altered 1948, or a copper-plated steel cent. Their 1958 Double Strike Obverse is not a double strike at all. And so on and so on.
If you have an error coin, but it has not been authenticated by ANACS, PCGS or NGC, you have nothing. I hate to burst your bubble, but you have nothing. You may actually HAVE an error coin. But, still, if it is not authenticated, you have nothing.
WHAT IS AUTHENTICATION?
Authentication is the process of getting an inspection by an expert and determining a "legit" coin. In the process, the authentication services encapsulate the coin in a special holder, apply a tamper proof label, and document the coin into their historical database. This costs money, and the amount of money charged varies from service to service. But, without this authentication and documentation, no coin collector will actually buy your error coin. Or, rather, MOST collectors will not buy the coin. As P.T. Barnum once said, "There is a sucker born every minute."
There are three services with reputations sufficient to assuage collectors of an honest determination: ANACS, PCGS, and NGC. We like ANACS, but we use all three.
I hope you actually have found a real 1943 bronze cent, or some other super rare error coin. Maybe you have. Dreams DO come true. Your next step is to send the coin off to be authenticated. Google ANACS GRADING SERVICE or NGC GRADING FEES to get started. And good luck to you!