Jessica Mullenfeld of Zyrus Press publishing kindly sent me an electronic preview of one of their new books, World's Greatest Mint Errors by Mike Byers.
In his Preface, the author writes:
In 1975, I purchased a 1900 Indian Head Cent struck on a $2˝ Indian gold blank planchet from the Beck Collection for $7,750 at a major coin auction. That price ranked among the top five ever realized by a mint error and represented a sum of money that few dealers or serious collectors would even consider spending on an error coin. Back then, there were no price guides for mint errors and very little information readily available to the public. Certainly there were no books to guide the reader through the vivid array and variety of mint error coinage.
Since then, the mint error market has witnessed an explosion in collector interest. Today, there are hundreds of dealers, investors and collectors who are purchasing major mint errors far in excess of $7,750. Much has changed since 1975, and in large part, the driving motivation behind this book was to assemble in one place the mint errors that best represent the culmination and maturity of mint error coinage as a fundamental segment of the overall numismatic market.
I didn't recall there being any error coins in the John A. Beck collection, so I reached for my copy of Beck Part I, the January 1975 sale by Abner Kreisberg's "Quality Sales" corporation. And there it was - lot 609, plated. "Formerly in the collections of the famous St. Louis coin dealer B.G. Johnson and in the Col. Green collection... We know there are supposedly three other Cents struck in gold but none have been offered for many years.
From the Introduction
World’s Greatest Mint Errors is the first book ever published to focus specifically on the most spectacular error coins from the United States Mint and mints throughout the world. While the primary attraction of this book will be found in the hundreds of large scale, full color error coin images, some which have never before been published, its practical application for the numismatist will be as a guide toward a better understanding of major mint errors, their relative rarity, and value.
Many coins found within these pages are so unique that they have eluded widespread exposure in numismatic circles.
The Byers book is first and foremost a picture book, but what pictures! These are indeed spectacular error coins, all wonderfully photographed. Numismatic information is not forgotten, though - each chapter has a brief but accurate description of how each type of error is created. Each photographed coin is accompanied by a paragraph of information.
The word "World" in the book's title is a bit of a stretch. As made obvious by the cover photos, the overwhelming majority of the coins pictured are U.S. Mint products.
We recently discussed brockages (and have more in this issue). The topic is covered in Chapter 3. Other interesting chapters include Counterbrockages and Die Adjustment Strikes. Below are examples of chapter headings and individual coin listings.
Each chapter includes a useful table listing market values for typical examples of the given error in various grades. Although the book is light on text, it provides a fine overview of the subject and I suspect it will be responsible for the creation of some new error collectors.
My main misgiving about the book is the inclusion in many of the photo groupings a picture of the coin in a third-party grading slab. What's up with that? I don't get it - the coin is already pictured and the slab is just a distraction, giving the book the feel of a dealer fixed price list. I'm not an anti-slab snob, but I don't see that these images add anything to the book.
The coin images look great on my computer screen, but I'll be curious to see how actually they look in print. As we've seen with other recently published coin books, the quality of the actual printed images can vary a great deal.
In summary, I enjoyed Byers' book and think both casual and advanced numismatists will enjoy it and learn a few things about errors and the minting process.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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