One of the fascinating areas in coin collecting is the collection of error coins. When you find a coin that the United States Mint did not make correctly, people get excited. Since the mint strives to make every coin perfect, these are rare and unusual finds. Many numismatists have studied this for many years and formed a coin club to promote this area of coin collecting.
CONECA, which stands for Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America, is the coin collectors club that focuses on error coins and die varieties. CONECA was formed in 1983 by combining the coin collecting clubs CONE (Collectors of Numismatic Errors) and NECA (Numismatic Error Collectors of America) into one organization. Before this, the two clubs had two fairly different philosophies regarding cataloging and describing error coins, the minting process and die varieties.
Describing Coin Errors With the PDS System
One of the key advances in minting error theory that allowed the two clubs to join together as one was the creation of the PDS System. The PDS System was developed by Alan Herbert, and first published in 1971. PDS stands for "Planchet, Die, Strike," which describes the three major types of errors and varieties that can occur. It is, perhaps, not coincidental that PDS also describes the three major U.S. minting facilities for circulating coins at the time: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.
Services Provided by CONECA
Like any successful coin collectors club, CONECA provides some useful services to the hobby in general, and its membership in particular. In CONECA's case, it publishes the popular CONECA Variety Master Listings on its website, which are listings of confirmed doubled dies, repunched mintmarks, and overpunched mintmarks. The website covers most major coins type of the 20th century.
CONECA has several informative columns on its website, including the popular Recent Finds web page. This column, and its sister column "In the News" are written by Ken Potter, who is also the volunteer CONECA Webmaster. Ken keeps us up to date on the latest E-V news (E-V is short for Error-Variety) and collector discoveries. He also writes the occasional "Oh, No It Ain't," a column he took over from Bill Fivaz. "Oh, No It Ain't" focuses on debunking myths and rumors in the error-variety community, and its archive makes for fascinating reading.
Error Coins and Varieties Newsletters
CONECA also publishes the Errorscope six times per year. It is a magazine devoted entirely to the E-V hobby. Back issues are available, and there is a cross-reference on the website that shows in which issue you can find photos and further information about the Variety Master Listings.
CONECA Events and Activities
CONECA sponsors an annual gathering of error coins and die varieties collectors every year called Errorama, usually in conjunction with another major coin show such as the ANA World's Fair of Money. Members get together to listen to lectures, share new finds, trade coins, and all many other fun things done at coin shows and club meetings. CONECA also bestows awards for best numismatic literature related to the E-V field, maintains a Hall of Fame of E-V scholars, and confers various other awards from time to time.
Also, the CONECA leadership try to attend one or two other important coin shows around the country each year, to give members a chance to meet and share their mutual interests.
How to Join CONECA
CONECA is easy to join, and the nominal annual membership dues include a subscription to CONECA's journal, the Errorscope. Students can join for a reduced rate which pays for the cost of mailing them the magazine. New members also get a Welcome Kit, which includes a free genuine variety coin, personalized membership card, and other benefits described on the CONECA Membership page.
It is money well invested if you are an avid error coin and die variety collector, or if you just enjoy searching your pocket change for valuable error coins. If you want to learn what to look for and how much your coin is worth, then this is the club for you. It is worth noting that CONECA was among the first coin collecting clubs to create a website, and they are proud of their long tradition of service to collectors.