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Ghost Coins: 1983-D Washington Quarter Varieties

What Are Ghost Coins?

By N.B. Cruzada …..
 

What Is a Ghost Coin?

Simply stated, a “ghost coin” is a coin that is not supposed to exist yet does.

The existence of some rumored coins defies explanation and can be dismissed. But there have been many ghost coins that “floated” in circulation or were hidden in private collections that were finally discovered, verified, and attributed as varieties. Once a ghost coin is attributed as a variety, then by definition it is not a ghost coin anymore. Well-known examples of previous ghost coins include the 1982-D Bronze Small Date Lincoln Cent (which was only recently discovered in 2016), the 1983-D Bronze Lincoln Cent (discovered in 2013), the 1976 Bicentennial Eisenhower Proof Dollar struck in Philadelphia, the 1974-D Aluminum Lincoln Cent (the Bobay/Martinez samples), and the 1964 SMS Kennedy Half Dollar (discovered in the early 1990s). A current and existing ghost coin is, of course, the infamous 1964 Peace Dollar.

Some of these ghost coins were experimental or prototype strikes never meant for circulation and supposedly destroyed; others were produced from undocumented use of Proof dies or hubs by the United States Mint to supplement the production of circulation coins. Due to the undocumented nature of their creation, a lot of these coins circulated for years before being discovered; examples include the 1972 Type 2 Eisenhower Dollar, the Close AM/Wide AM Lincoln Cent varieties of the 1990s, and the 1976 Type 2 Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollar with thin letters. Designers use thin letters on Proof variants of a design to compensate for and minimize the strike pressure on the Proof dies, which are struck twice for each coin. Indeed, this was the reason why Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro created the Type 2 design for the 1976 Bicentennial Eisenhower Dollar. A different design means a different master hub pair was used for Proof coins that year.

One of the reasons for the use of Proof dies or hubs to produce business strike or circulation coins is that it allows the Mint to “get more mileage” of out these Proof dies or hubs. Of interest is that when the Mint engages in this practice, it is mostly in the re-use of the reverse or “anvil” die. I believe that the reason for this is because the reverse or “anvil” die undergoes more pressure or wear than the obverse or “hammer” die. So the Mint ends up with die pairs where the hammer die is still in good condition but the anvil die is worn out.

The most relevant example of a ghost coin to my story is the Type B Proof Reverse Washington Quarter of 1956-1964. These were produced by the Mint’s use of Proof anvil dies to create circulation strike quarters during these years. Here is a series of articles on this by Dr. Richard S. Appel as they appeared on CoinWeek:

This ghost coin variety is relevant because I believe that I have discovered two new varieties for the business strike 1983-D Washington Quarter that were created by the Mint’s undocumented use of Proof dies or hubs during that year.

The “Type 2” Variety

The first variety is what I consider a “Type 2”. It has thinner letters on the reverse, the same typeface as the Proof design of that year. I found it while roll-hunting through a $500 box of circulated quarters. Its thin letters immediately stood out to me. In the photos below, I show the differences between these two typefaces or designs.

On the word “STATES”, the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 designs are noticeable in the letters “A”, “T”, “E”, and the last “S”. On Type 2, all four letters are thinner.

On the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM“, the differences between the designs are noticeable in all three words. On Type 2, most letters on all three words are noticeably thinner.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Now, look at the Proof design for that year. Notice the thinner letters:

Figure 4.
Figure 4.

On the word “AMERICA” on the Type 2, the letter “M” has much smaller serifs on its ‘feet’, the letter “E” is thinner, and the letter “R” has a thinner right leg.

Figure 5. Image: PCGS.
Figure 5. Image: PCGS.
Figure 6.
Figure 6.
Figure 7.
Figure 7.

On the word “UNITED”, the differences in the design are noticeable in the letters “N” and “T”. On the Type 2, the “N” has a thinner diagonal line and has a higher ‘armpit’ while the letters “U” and “T” are thinner.

Figure 8.
Figure 8.
Figure 9.
Figure 9.
Figure 10.
Figure 10.

As these comparisons show, the business strike typeface has thinner letters on the reverse of the coin that are very similar or the same as the typeface of the Proof design of that year. This is good evidence that Proof dies may have been re-used to make business strike coins for that year.

There is also a possibility that Type 2 1983-D Washington Quarters may have been struck from dies made from the hub for Proof coins. This would have been the case if business strike hubs were getting worn out, and so the Mint may have decided to get more use or “life” from the Proof design hubs.

The “Type 2 Over Type 1” DDR Variety

On the second coin, I’m referring to it as the “Type 2 over Type 1” Doubled Die Reverse (DDR) variety. I think it is both an error and a variety. I found two of these on eBay and both are in “Brilliant Uncirculated/BU” or “Mint State” condition. The seller had four available on a single listing and had sold two. As soon as I saw the close-ups, I could see the doubling.

The set of photos below shows the doubling on the actual coin.

On the word “STATES”, the doubling is most noticeable in the letters “A”, “E”, and both the first and last “S”, while both “T”s have minor doubling on both sides of the trunk. To note, there is “notching” on the tail of the last “S”. On the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, the doubling is most noticeable in the letters “P” and “L”.

Figure 11.
Figure 11.
Figure 12.
Figure 12.
Figure 13.
Figure 13.

On the word “AMERICA”, the doubling is most noticeable in the letters “M”, “E”, and “R”. Notice the doubling on the insides of both legs of the “R”. There is a considerable amount of die wear in the form of striations or flow lines around all three letters, as well as a jagged area below the letter “E”.

Figure 14.
Figure 14.
Figure 15.
Figure 15.

On the word “UNITED”, the doubling is most noticeable in the letters “U” and “N”.

Figure 16.
Figure 16.

And on the word “QUARTER” at the bottom, the letter “A” has “notching” or a “double peak” at the top. There is some die wear in the form of striations or flow lines right below the leaf and around the top of the “R”.

Figure 17.
Figure 17.

I have shown these coins to other hobbyists and numismatists, and most have dismissed them as the result of either machine doubling or die wear. Based on the “diagnostics” on both coins –– I find that these explanations do not “line up” with what I see.

For example, the doubling in several areas is too wide to be machine doubling. Also, machine doubling occurs on one side only. The doubling on the letters “A” in “STATES” and “R” in “AMERICA” do not look like machine doubling. Furthermore, there is “notching” on the tail of the last “S” in “STATES” and at the top the letter “A” on the word “QUARTER”.

As for die wear being the cause of all this doubling, I find this to be a “stretch”. Die wear is jagged & random. It does not form straight, sharply defined lines that form into a doubled outline of a letter.

This doubling is truly quite puzzling. It appears to have two different designs – the Type 1 thin letters on top of the Type 2 thick letters. It seems impossible for a die to have two different designs struck on it. I did some research and found that one of the types of doubling is what is defined as “Class III Design Hub Doubling”, which is quite uncommon. Here is its definition posted on the Error-Ref website:

“Class III Doubled Dies occur when after the first hubbing with one design another hubbing follows of a different design or a slightly altered design.”

And the CONECA website:

“Class III Doubled Dies arise when, after the first hubbing with one design, another hubbing follows of a different design, or a slightly altered design. Such differing design mix-ups could come from an intentional alteration during the year, designs from adjacent years, or from hubs intended for proofs mixed with business class hubs.”

Indeed, there have been many Class III Design Hub Doubling cases on different denominations, including the 1960-D Small Date Over Large Date Lincoln Cent, the 1970-S Large Date Over Small Date Lincoln Cent, and several varieties of Washington Quarter. This includes three varieties on the 1950-S quarter that had a “low relief design over high relief design” doubling (these can be found on the Variety Vista website).

So now I have an explanation of how this type of doubling would occur but I am still wondering why there would be two hubbings. As the CONECA website states: “… after the first hubbing with one design, another hubbing follows of a different design…”

I did some more research and found the practice of “double-squeeze hubbing” that the Mint did when creating the dies. The Mint did double-squeeze hubbing up until 1985 or ’86. This article by Ken Potter is posted on the CONECA website.

It sheds some light on this practice but I am still wondering why a different design is used in the second hubbing. It sounds like this double-squeeze hubbing is a one-two process, similar to how Proof coins are struck. If this happened during the double-squeeze hubbing process, then this would mean that the hub would have been removed and replaced with another hub in the middle of the process. Sounds unlikely, but whatever the case may be, Class III Doubled Die coins exist, which means there have been cases where the hub was replaced mid-process.

From what I’ve read, 1982 and ’83 were rough years for the Mint. They faced production pressures like cost-cutting and the transition of the Lincoln Cent to the use of a new type of planchet. These production pressures were high enough for the Mint that they did not do their annual Uncirculated Mint Sets during those years and instead issued a limited number of Souvenir Sets that were only available in the Mint’s gift store. In a “high-pressure” production environment such as this, I can imagine there would have been some mix-ups. Indeed, the Mint produced many error coins in 1983 – from Lincoln Cents and Jefferson Nickels (1983-P struck on a copper-alloy cent planchet) to Roosevelt Dimes (the No Mintmark 1983-S dime) and Washington Quarters (the 1983-S Doubled Die Reverse/DDR).

World Numismatic News has a video that lists a large number of different error varieties for the 1983 Lincoln Cent. Check out the video below.

 

Out of curiosity, I decided to find out more about the production of quarters at the Denver Mint in 1983 to see if I could uncover any records that could show or at least give a hint that the Mint used Proof design hubs or dies to strike circulating coins. I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to get any Mint records or documentation on the manufacturing process of the hubs and dies for quarters during this time. The NARA representative told me that he contacted the National Archives in Denver, but they didn’t have any records. He did mention that if there were any, they would have been scanned and digitized by a third party named “Newman Numismatic” and uploaded to their portal on the Internet Archive website. I looked through the documents there but didn’t find anything on this subject. At this point, I realized that I would be “hard pressed” to find any records documenting the re-use of hubs and dies and certainly not any mix-ups in the production process, so I did not “press further” in this research.

So what do you think happened with these “ghost coins”?

* * *

About The Author:

The author is an avid coin collector, having started collecting coins since the early 80s when iconic coins such as the Bicentennial ‘Drummer Boy’ Washington Quarter, the Susan B. Anthony Dollar, and the Eisenhower Dollar were quite plentiful in circulation. He got his start when his father, who served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, gave him a box of world coins from his travels. The beautiful copper & silver coins from this set are among his treasured holdings. Currently, his aim is to take coin collecting to the next level by leveraging cutting edge 21st century technology to attract more people to the hobby so that coin collecting will have a ‘Renaissance’ and become more popular than it has ever been.

CoinWeek
CoinWeek
Coinweek is the top independent online media source for rare coin and currency news, with analysis and information contributed by leading experts across the numismatic spectrum.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Wery good job.. i ll sugest to you to look 1986 lincoln peny .close to
    Ring .was discover by Mr savane. and post it
    To offerup for sale. 1986 penny error.
    The letter 6 was close near the ring.
    While the rest are far from the ring.

    • I can’t seem to find any comments or videos emy 1983 penny that’s on what I believe is dime. Only 2.18 grams and is extremely thin for penny. Several errors. I seen only 1 like it with less errors on eBay. Can I get information on it. [email protected].

      • check out Blueridge Silverhound out in California he does a Pocket change market report specializing in many of numismatics fields weather for sellers and or buyers. We are all into the hobby , Happy hunting !! p.s. B.R.S.H. name is Shaun

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