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By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for PCGS ……
 

One of the most nagging malapropisms in numismatics has to do with what is easily the most popular and widely known of all major varieties, the doubled die.

Of course, this isn’t quite the term many collectors use in their daily discourse. It seems a great number of collectors either fall back on or believe correct the term “double die”. As seasoned collectors know, double die is simply a nonsense term. There is no such thing as a double die, the term most people use when they mean to say “doubled die”. But why is this distinction so important?

This very well-known kind of die variety is created when a working die is impressed twice by a hub at differing positions, leaving parts of the design on one side of the coin showing evidence of doubling. The design on the affected die was impressed twice by the hub, thus doubled by the implement that impresses the device, lettering, and other elements on the die. The word “double” really makes no sense in a reference like this, since the term “double die” may incorrectly imply something about the quantity of the dies used in striking the design on one side of the coin, not something about the nature of the die itself.

Doubled dies, which carry indications that it was hubbed twice and in different positions, are rightfully one of the most beloved of all die varieties. Why? Perhaps because of how drastic and unusual these errors are, many of the most famous examples show the magnificent doubling of key design features, such as a coin’s date, lettering, or major details of numismatic portraits.

The 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent is surely among the most famous and desired of these varieties, being one of the first to burst into the national spotlight during the zenith of the coin collecting hobby’s popularity in the 1950s and early ‘60s. The obverse doubling on this particular piece is extremely prevalent in the date and lettering – so much so that it can be unmistakably attributed with the naked eye.

Other doubled dies offer more nuanced diagnostics, but nevertheless, these rare and often highly valuable coins really stir the imaginations of collectors longing to include these fascinating varieties in their collections. PCGS recognizes doubled die varieties across the canon of United States coins, as well as such pieces from around the world.

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18 COMMENTS

    • I have a strange tiny penny/not much bigger than your pinky nail/twice as thick as two pennies/it say iberty not liberty /197tiny o on it the date

  1. At the age of 13(when I started to collect coins) I had gotten a book showing coins and their value and condition l had my 1st glimpse of a 1955 double die penny and it worth if uncirculated or very fine. $455 was alot of money in1967. I never did find one or could afford one,but I dreamed that one day I would find one. I sold the Sunday Herald Examiner & LA Times on a corner in LA for 25 & 35 cents for many years. I checked all my coins before I paid my distributors. I did amass a nice little collection but no 55 double die. It’s still my second most favorite coin after the Morgan $. I would love still have one.

        • I have just about all the money that was shown i went to a pawn shop and they told me equal value,and I told them no I’ll take them home first and let my grandchildren destroy them before I take equal value text me back when u get this message and let me know more about these coins

  2. Thank you that is very informative. You could do a piece on WORTHLESS DOUBLING That would be of worth to the new collector. Thank you

  3. I have a 1955 Lincoln penny the date is not doubled but tripled its plain to see plus other pennies doubled in the 1970-1975 years great looking coins

  4. I own a 1955 doubled die cent that I purchased in 1980 from a private collector for $240. One week later he offered me $400 to sell it back to him. Needless to say I still have it and I would never part with it. It hasn’t been professionally graded but I judge it to be between very fine and X-fine. It’s certainly the highlight of my collection

    • I was lucky to find one in 1962 and still have it. Don’t think I could ever part with it. Like you, I never sent it to be graded. Don’t believe in them and also don’t trust complete strangers with something so precious to me. I know it’s authentic and after 60 years pretty good at knowing it’s condition. I know it’s not MS-67 red but today I wouldn’t part with it for $3000.

  5. As a kid I found a 1972 doubled die penny before I knew what it was. I knew something was different about the penny not knowing that someday it could be worth more than just a penny so I put it in a coin holder where it still is today and I’m 63.

  6. I have a 1967 dime and Roosevelt looks like he has a big not on his for head
    Like he got hit with a baseball bat it’s definitely a factory error wonder what that would be wort

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