Promising, then debunked

Initial impression proves wrong
Published : 04/20/11
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Every so often a coin that appears to be a promising new variety gets debunked almost as quickly as it gets discovered. Such was the case with what appeared to be a 1945-S Jefferson 5-cent coin that Richard Bateson, of Gulliver, Mich., found at a show in April.

Bateson, who is a ardent variety collector, noticed that out of two dated 1945-S 5-cent coins he examined, one had what appeared to be a large upper serif and small lower serif while the other had a small upper and large lower serif. Since many Mint mark styles over the years have tended to vary in the size and configuration, it was logical to conclude that it may have been the case here, and that one of the Mint marks was oriented correctly while the other might have been punched into the die in an inverted orientation.

Upon initial examination of both coins, I and other specialists felt that indeed one might be inverted. This provoked a hunt of other dealers’ inventories at the same show to see which orientation was correct. Bateson, Larry Briggs of Lima, Ohio, and I started checking other examples, and after looking over a few dozen pieces, arrived at a consensus that most were rather symmetrical, bearing Mint marks that were even or nearly so for both serifs.

At that point, we had to acknowledge that what we felt might represent a new variety was simply the result of a difference in punching pressure. In each case, the coins bearing a heavy serif at either end must result from an S punched into the dies at a slight tilt. The end that was tilted down penetrated the die more deeply that the other end of the “S.” By the end of the show, Bateson presented me with a third 1945-S 5-cent coin that illustrates a well-punched S Mint mark that shows the serifs at about equal size.

Bateson had started out the show with two coins that seemed to hold promise and by the end of the show had debunked the theory that one might be an Inverted S, though diligence and a working knowledge of the effects produced when a Mint mark is punched into a die at a tilt.

Ken Potter attributes U.S. and world doubled dies. He can be contacted via email at

Visit his Educational Image Gallery located at

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