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It’s Doubled Die!

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez - November 30, 2021

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 using this misnomer meaning to say as "doubled die.” But why is this distinction so important?

The 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent is the posterchild of this special variety, one which is often
erroneously dubbed “double die.” Courtesy of PCGS TrueView.
Click image to enlarge.

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 showing magnificent doubling of key features such as a coin’s date, its lettering, or major device elements such as eyes and ears on portraits.

The 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln Cent is surely among the desired of these varieties, being one of the first to lurch into the national spotlight during the zenith of the 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. Those who want to confirm the identity of suspected hub doubling or the authenticity of a piece that is marketed as a doubled die should submit their coins to PCGS, which recognizes doubled die varieties across the canon of United States coins and such pieces from around the world.

Article provided by PCGS at
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