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Strike it Rich With Pocket Change - How to Find Error Coins in Circulation

Error Coins in Your Pocket Change Can be Worth Big Bucks

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Error Coins Book Strike It Rich

"Strike It Rich With Pocket Change" is a great book for learning how to find error coins in their pocket change.

Photo by Susan Headley
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Strike It Rich With Pocket Change by Ken Potter and Brian Allen, published by Krause Publications, is the ultimate newbie's guide to finding error coins and die varieties in everyday circulating coinage. The book is profusely illustrated with close-up photos of what you need to look for on the coins, and is written with the assumption that the reader doesn't know anything at all about coin collecting.

If the recent news about the thousands of Presidential Dollar errors being found has sparked your interest in the subject, or you've heard about State Quarter errors and want to find them, this book is for you.

Error Coins - Why Bother? The Coins I See Look All Right To Me...

In the Introduction section of Strike it Rich With Pocket Change, the authors ask the compelling question, "Have you ever knowingly spent $100 on a candy bar, or $50 on a soft drink?" If you're not taking a moment to check your pocket change for error coins, you might be doing exactly that!

Although it's true that at a casual glance, all dimes seem to look alike, and all nickels look silver-colored, the truth is that many of the coins in circulation have small details that vary from coin to coin, such as the mint mark, which is a letter that tells where the coin was minted, or the date, which tells what year it was issued. Most people are aware of these small differences on our coins.

However, as the authors of Strike It Rich point out, you could potentially find coins in circulation that have errors on them that are just as easy to see as the date and mint mark, once you know what you are looking for. As they put it, "the next Lincoln Cent you look at could be worth $50,000!" Would you know this Lincoln Cent if you saw it? You would if you had read a copy of this helpful book!

In addition to the generous, large, close-up photos of what to look for on the coins, Strike It Rich includes value estimates to help price your finds, cross-reference numbers to other experts' publications of error coins, and additional details and comments that will help you to understand what you have found.

The book is well organized, with penny errors first, then nickels, dimes, and so on. Each coin type is arranged in order by year, to make it real easy to look up your coins. (More below...)

Error Coins For Beginners - I Don't Even Know How To Collect Coins Yet!

Error Coin Doubled Die

The 1972 doubled die penny error coin might still be found in circulation today.

Photo courtesy of Harlan J. Berk, Ltd.
The first few chapters of Strike it Rich With Pocket Change are devoted to providing a brief introduction to the things you will need to know about coin collecting, especially as it relates to finding, evaluating, protecting, and selling the error coins you find. Chapter topics include, "Age Does Not Always Equal Value," understanding circulated and uncirculated coin conditions and grades, the tools you'll need (a good magnifying glass and a maneuverable light source,) and "Preserving Your Finds."

What I like most about these opening chapters is that they are brief and to the point. They cover what you need to know quickly, without a lot of extra information thrown in to confuse or divert you. The point of these chapters is clear: let's get the necessary little bit of training out of the way so we can get to the fun as soon as possible!

Doubled Dies Versus Other Forms of Doubling

The only difficult subject in the quest for searching pocket change for error coins is that of doubling. Genuine doubled dies are, to many error-variety collectors, the holy grail of the hunt. Doubled dies are generally the most valuable error coins found in pocket change, but they are very easily confused with other forms of doubling that are worthless such as strike doubling, ejection doubling, and even die erosion doubling. I feel that Strike It Rich could have covered this troublesome and confusing subject in much greater detail and with far more photo examples to help us understand these differences better, which is the primary reason the book got 4.5 stars from me rather than the full 5.

Doubled Die Error Coins Are Just the Beginning

Although I'm critical of the book's coverage of doubling, (and co-author Ken Potter explained to me that there were some editing problems that messed this section up a little,) there is a lot more to be found that is worth good money than just doubled die coins. (As the photo shows, "doubling" refers to a coin which has a minor secondary image next to the primary one on part or all of the affected side of the coin.)

Just flipping through the pages full of large close-up photos in the book, I see diagnostics for how to detect other types of collectible coin errors such as:
  • Repunched Mint Marks where the mint marks were punched into the coin die more than once, which shows up on the coin as a doubled or otherwise "messed up" mint mark.


  • 1997 Doubled Ear Penny where a doubled die caused Lincoln's earlobe to be struck doubled.


  • 1965, 1966, & 1967 Silver Dimes which should have been struck on clad metal with copper showing on the edge.


  • Wrong Stock Errors for various coins, such as a Quarter struck on a Dime planchet.


  • Rotated Reverse where the obverse and reverse don't line up properly when you turn the coin over from top to bottom.
As mentioned above, there are also plenty of doubled die error coins listed in Strike It Rich, plus numerous other error types are included. There is even a special section devoted to State Quarter errors. Near the end of the error section, (which comprises the bulk of the book,) is a fascinating chapter showing some of the more extreme errors that have been found, such as coins missing chunks of metal out of their planchets!

Error Coins - Debunking the Myths and Other Topics

The last few chapters of Strike It Rich are stuffed full of information and resources to help you advance to the next level of the error-variety hobby. The authors debunk several common coin related myths and discuss some coin novelties, (such as two-headed coins,) and even have a couple of pages about dollar bills and how to very easily detect "web" notes (made on a web press) which are worth 15 to 25% over face value.

Other information near the back of the book includes a several page essay on how to buy and sell error coins, along with several dealers, auction sites, and other locations for cashing in on your finds. There are lists of coin related publications, as well as experts in the field of error coins and die varieties who can help you figure out what you've found (if you're not sure.) There is a good-sized section of "Recommended Books" along with brief reviews of each, a comprehensive error-variety glossary, and a generous Bibliography. Finally, there is a page of "Final Tips," which serves as an excellent source of inspiration and ideas, such as buying rolls of circulated coins from merchants and banks to provide you with more coins to search through!

Overall, I think that Strike It Rich With Pocket Change is one of the best books available on the subject of error coins for the beginning collector. The scope of information provided is appropriate to the novice who is just learning about the hobby, and the book is written in simple language that you don't need to be a numismatist to understand. I highly recommend it to those new to error coins.

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