Error coins will sometimes display an expanded, raised design on
one face. It is nearly impossible to find genuine examples of coins in
which both faces show a proportionally expanded raised design. This
circumstance can occur if a coin is fed into a striking chamber
between two planchets. It can also occur if a coin is fed in between
two uniface die caps — die caps that never had a design on their
respective working faces.
Given how rare such events are, collectors are justifiably
skeptical of the many oversized coins in the marketplace that do show
proportionally expanded designs on both faces. These almost invariably
prove to be alterations referred to as “Texas coins.” Texas coins are
said to be produced by placing a coin between two strips of hard
leather and pounding it with a mallet.
A somewhat unusual Texas coin is presented here. The 1964 Lincoln
cent shows two alterations — a counterfeit second strike on the
obverse face and proportional expansion of the raised design on both
faces. Numerous cents with counterfeit “obverse-only” double and
triple strikes were produced in 1964. Most show a normal or nearly
normal diameter. In each case, the extra elements were generated by a
false die composed of relatively soft metal.
It would seem that two steps were involved in making the
illustrated 1964 cent. In Step 1, the obverse was struck by a
counterfeit die while the reverse rested on a smooth, somewhat giving
surface. In Step 2, the coin was pounded between leather strips. This
step left the coin out-of-round with an average diameter of 21.3 mm.
I’ve only encountered one seemingly genuine example of
proportional, bifacial design expansion: a 2000 Lincoln cent. It has
an average diameter of 21.97 mm. Although impossible to authenticate,
I do find its coarse texture highly reminiscent of some struck-through
errors and capped die strikes. More importantly, each face shows two
observable strikes, both of which have features that are hard to
duplicate outside the Mint.
It appears that the first strike was perfectly normal. The
obstructed second strike left first-strike elements flattened and
expanded in a very convincing manner. Peripheral elements are
stretched out, unlike any Texas coin.
Second-strike elements on the 2000 cent show no expansion. They
are mushy and show greater relief than the first-strike elements.
These appear to be ghost elements that bled through the material
obstructing each die face.
A seemingly inexplicable feature of this 2000 cent is the perfect
radial alignment between first- and second-strike elements. This would
invalidate both of the scenarios I presented earlier. When a coin is
fed into a striking chamber between two planchets or between two
uniface die caps, its position will be random relative to the designs
on the two dies. Flattened first-strike elements would almost
certainly be out of alignment with any ghost elements generated during
the second strike.
In this coin, both strikes must have occurred sequentially within
the same striking chamber and without any movement of the coin between
strikes. But how can you have an unobstructed first strike and a
thoroughly obstructed second strike? I can only offer a tortuous
explanation that involves three strikes of highly variable strength.
After a normal first strike, the coin remained behind in the
striking chamber, affixed either to the hammer die or the anvil die.
(For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume it was the anvil die.) A
relatively thin disc of undetermined origin was inserted above the
coin and the two were struck together. This strike was so weak that no
expansion occurred on the die-struck reverse face between the design
rim and the tips of the peripheral letters. The coin nevertheless
adhered to the overlying disc that, in turn, attached itself to the
hammer die. As the hammer die (with its attached disc and cent)
retracted, a second disc was inserted into the striking chamber
beneath the cent. All three elements were then struck under fairly
normal pressure during a final, third strike.
The discs are not likely to have been conventional planchets.
Planchets are too thick to allow the formation of ghost elements in
Given this outlandish chain of events, it’s possible that we’re
looking at the product of backroom shenanigans by Mint employees.
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