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U.S. Minting Varieties and Errors
error coinsBy Alan Herbert
March 22, 2010
error coins

The P.D.S. cataloging system used here to list minting varieties was originally compiled by Alan Herbert in 1971. PDS stands for the three main divisions of the minting process, “planchet,” “die” and “striking.” Two more divisions cover collectible modifi cations after the strike, as well as non-collectible alterations, counterfeits and damaged coins.

This listing includes 445 classes, each a distinct part of the minting process or from a specifi c non-mint change in the coin. Classes from like causes are grouped together. The PDS system applies to coins of the world, but is based on U.S. coinage with added classes for certain foreign minting practices.

Price ranges are based on a U.S. coin in MS-60 grade (uncirculated.) The ranges may be applied in general to foreign coins of similar size or value although collector values are not usually as high as for U.S. coins. Prices are only a guide as the ultimate price is determined by a willing buyer and seller.

To define minting varieties, “A coin which exhibits a variation of any kind from the normal, as a result of any portion of the minting process, whether at the planchet stage, as a result of a change or modifi cation of the die, or during the striking process.

It includes those classes considered to be intentional changes, as well as those caused by normal wear and tear on the dies or other minting equipment and classes deemed to be “errors.”

The three causes are represented as follows:

1. (I) = Intentional Changes
2. (W) = Wear and Tear
3. (E) = Errors

Note: A class may show more than one cause and could be listed as (IWE).

Rarity Level

The rarity ratings are based on the following scale:

1 - Very Common. Ranges from every coin struck down to 1,000,000.
2 - Common. From 1,000,000 down to 100,000.
3 - Scarce. From 100,000 down to 10,000.
4 - Very Scarce. From 10,000 down to 1,000.
5 - Rare. From 1,000 down to 100.
6 - Very Rare. From 100 down to 10.
7 - Extremely Rare. From 10 down to 1.

Unknown: If there is no confirmed report of a piece fi tting a particular class, it is listed as Unknown. Reports of fi nds by readers would be appreciated in order to update future presentations.

An Unknown does not mean that your piece automatically is very valuable. Even a Rarity 7 piece, extremely rare, even unique, may have a very low collector value because of a lack of demand or interest in that particular class.

Classes, definitions and price ranges are based on material previously offered in Alan Herbert’s book, The Official Price Guide to Minting Varieties and Errors and in Coin Prices Magazine.

Also recommended is the Cherrypicker’s Guide to Rare Die Varieties by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton. Check your favorite coin shop, numismatic library or book seller for availability of the latest edition.

For help with your coin questions, to report significant new finds and for authentication of your minting varieties, include a loose first class stamp and write to Alan Herbert, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001. Don’t include any numismatic material until you have received specific mailing instructions from me.

Quick Check Index

If you have a coin and are not sure where to look for the possible variety:

If your coin shows doubling, first check V-B-I.
Then try II-A, II-B, II-C, II-I (4 & 5), III-J, III-L, or IV-C.
If part of the coin is missing, check III-B, III-C, or III-D.
If there is a raised line of coin metal, check II-D, II-G.
If there is a raised area of coin metal, check II-E, II-F, or III-F.
If the coin is out of round, and too thin, check III-G.
If coin appears to be the wrong metal, check III-A, III-E, III-F-3 and III-G.
If the die appears to have been damaged, check II-E, II-G. (Damage to the coin itself usually is not a minting variety.)
If the coin shows incomplete or missing design, check II-A, II-E, III-B-3, III-B-5 or III-D.
If only part of the planchet was struck, check III-M.
If something was struck into the coin, check III-J and III-K.
If something has happened to the edge of the coin, check II-D-6, II-E-10, III-I, III-M and III-O.
If your coin shows other than the normal design, check II-A or II-C.
If a layer of the coin metal is missing, or a clad layer is missing, check III-B and III-D.
If you have an unstruck blank, or planchet, check I-G.
If your coin may be a restrike, check IV-C.
If your coin has a counterstamp, countermark, additional engraving or apparent official modifications, check IV-B and V-A-8.

Do not depend on the naked eye to examine your coins. Use a magnifying lens whenever possible, as circulation damage, wear and alterations frequently can be mistaken for legitimate minting varieties.

More Resources:

• Subscribe to our Coin Price Guide, buy Coin BooksCoin Folders and join the NumisMaster VIP Program

2010 U.S. Coin Digest, The Complete Guide to Current Market Values, 8th ed.

State Quarters Deluxe Folder By Warmans

Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money, 1928 to Date

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change, 2nd Edition



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