In the peculiar parlance of error collectors, the term “cud” has a
specific connotation. A cud is a die break that incorporates the rim
and at least a little bit of the adjacent field and design. The vast
majority of die breaks of any size are cuds, since the corner of the
die is the area most prone to breakage.
Some cuds are smaller than a sesame seed while others may carry
off most of the die face. A cud takes the form of a featureless lump
on the coin itself. The design on the opposite face is weakly-struck
or absent due to the lack of resistance to the impact of the intact
die. If a cud is large enough, the featureless zone on the opposite
face develops a scooped-out appearance. This results from coin metal
flowing into the void in the die face and simultaneously withdrawing
from the intact die.
A large obverse cud and the opposing puckered reverse are shown in
a 1975-D Lincoln cent.
The characteristic appearance of a cud hinges on the coin being
struck within the collar. When a coin is broadstruck or struck
off-center, a cud takes on a very different appearance. The familiar
lump fails to form when a coin is struck out-of-collar. Instead, the
design ends abruptly at a cliff-like margin. The design on the
opposite face terminates almost as abruptly.
A representative example of an off-center cud is seen here on an
undated 5-cent coin. The planchet was struck about 70 percent
off-center by a broken obverse die. The break passes through the top
of Jefferson’s head. It’s difficult to say exactly how large this cud
was. The margin of the break shows a gentle curve that suggests its
other end might have met the rim somewhere between 8:00 and 9:00. This
suggests a break that encompassed about 25 percent of the obverse die
face. But this estimate is very uncertain because the broken margin of
a cud can be very irregular.
The obverse and reverse faces of this undated 5-cent coin show
numerous sets of strong, overlapping clash marks. They are so closely
spaced that the individual clash marks are difficult to discern. It’s
quite possible that the numerous collisions caused a large piece to
break off the obverse die.
An even more unusual off-center cud is seen on an undated,
double-struck Roosevelt dime. The larger of the two strikes is about
70 percent off-center and die-struck on both faces. The reverse die is
badly shattered, though still intact. A network of severe die cracks —
both conventional and bilevel — cross the reverse face. Heavy,
multiple clash marks similar to those seen on the undated 5-cent coin
are present on both faces.
The other off-center strike was delivered by a broken obverse die.
Only the obverse face is die-struck. The reverse face is featureless,
but probably not from being struck against a planchet. The surface is
relatively flat instead of convex, and is marked by numerous fine
raised lines that travel in two directions. I suspect that the reverse
face of the planchet rested against a feeder finger or other machine part.
It’s not clear if the broken die was the same one that delivered
the larger strike. I suspect not, since the area below Roosevelt’s
throat shows no clash marks.
The left end of the break meets the design rim at the 7:30 clock
position, right next to the word in. The break travels in a
northeasterly direction but cannot be followed beyond Roosevelt’s
throat. If the break continued in the same direction, it would have
carried off more than 50 percent of the obverse die face.
The most unusual feature of this broken die strike is that it was
delivered at a 45-degree angle. In other words, the obverse (hammer)
die was vertically misaligned (a tilted die error). Such severe tilts
are always accompanied by a major horizontal misalignment of the
hammer die, but that assumes this portion of the die was intact. It’s
possible that this little bit of design was instead delivered by a die
fragment that was trapped between the intact portion of the die and
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