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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