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Why Flawed Silver Coins Are More Valuable Than "Perfect" Ones

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Collectors of rare silver coins are often concerned with keeping their collection in the best shape possible, spending potentially hundreds on storage for their investment. While it makes sense for higher graded coins to be worth more money, a logical question to ask is, "What's worth more than a mint-condition coin? What affects silver coin prices? What's more perfect than perfect?" The answer? One that's imperfect. 

The Value of Error Coins

The US Mint fires off tens of millions of coins per day through its Denver and Philadelphia facilities, so it's only an exercise in probability that a few of these coins won't be perfectly minted. However, it's the stringent inspection process that keeps most of these coins out of circulation, but this process also makes error coins far more valuable than even the most limited runs of mint condition coins. These coins are mainly valuable because they are exceedingly rare, offer great variety, and are simply fun to collect because they're such oddities. 

How to Identify Error Coins

The fun thing about error coins is that there is a broad range of different types of errors that can occur in the minting process. A good general rule is that the more egregious the error, the more valuable the coin is. For example, a coin with one face that is totally blank will be more valuable than one where the stamp missed its mark by only a millimeter or two. Another common error is a double strike, where there appears to be a shadow to the images and text on a coin. One common mistake collectors make when trying to identify an error coin is thinking that a slightly uneven rim is a sign of an error, when this is hardly considered more than a slight stylistic deviation. 

What are the Most Valuable Errors?

As mentioned earlier, the uglier an error coin looks, the more it will be worth. Error coins that are only worth marginally more than a mint condition coin are minor double struck coins and ones where the stamp is slightly off center. Errors that are more valuable than these are indents and fragments, where the die creates an undue hole or dip in the coin or breaks it entirely. Some of the most valuable errors are double denomination errors, where one coin is double stamped with different designs, like if a Roosevelt dime has an imprint of a Lincoln cent, for example.