Double-struck 1952-D Lincoln cent has collectors seeing two Lincolns

Overlapping portraits and inscriptions just part of the appeal of the coin
By , Coin World
Published : 05/23/17
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When a coin is struck for circulation, a certain rhythm is at play: A planchet is dropped onto the anvil die, the planchet is struck, while resting inside the collar, by hammer and anvil dies, and the coin is ejected as a new planchet is dropped into place to repeat the cycle. Again and again.

The rhythm was interrupted, however, when the featured 1952-D Lincoln cent was struck, creating an error coin that many collectors would find appealing.


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The cent was double struck within the collar, with the coin rotating about 30 degrees between strikes. The result is two sets of overlapping designs with the classic and distinctive look of a genuine double-struck coin.

The double-struck 1952-D Lincoln cent in Heritage's June Long Beach auction resulted when the coin was not ejected after it was struck the first time. Instead, the coin rotated slightly and fell back inside the surrounding collar with a new planchet overlapping the coin by about 3 percent (the point of contact between the second planchet and this coin was at about the 9 o’clock position in relation to the obverse, visible as a slightly protruding indent on the reverse).

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Here’s how Heritage describes the cent: “The first strike was normal, but the coin failed to eject. Instead, it rotated approximately 30 degrees counter-clockwise, and was struck a second time. For the second strike, a planchet (not included) was fed in, between the reverse die and the reverse of the present coin, but it was far off center and overlapped only about 3% of the reverse, near 9 o'clock. Due to the rotated double strike, the legends are jumbled, most prominently on the central reverse. The mint error also results in a strange appearance of Lincoln's portrait.”

When a coin is struck more than once, portions of the original design can be obliterated entirely, or flattened slightly though remaining recognizable, or be largely untouched. The effect at any given point on the coin can depend on whether the coin has shifted position between strikes, and where the dies’ incused design devices or flat fields impact the struck coin. Many such coins show a combination of the trio of described effects.

On this piece, the original portrait of Lincoln has been flattened, though it is recognizable for what it is. The first three numerals of the date and the D Mint mark of the Denver Mint survive, visible within the front of Lincoln’s shirt on the second portrait (because this area of the portrait, incused on the die, did not come into full contact with the raised portions of the coin). The date and Mint mark of the second strike are fully visible, as is the Lincoln portrait (though areas of weakness appear). Of the word LIBERTY from the second strike, only the last four letters were struck up, stamped over Lincoln’s shoulder from the first strike; no remnants of LIBERTY from the first strike are visible in Heritage’s photos, having been obliterated by the flat fields of the obverse die during the second strike. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST is incomplete and doubled in certain areas, with GOD from both strikes visible.

The reverse, too, shows overlapping design elements, with remnants of the original strike visible an areas of he second strike weak and indistinct. The E in CENT, for example, appears twice on the coin, as do other letters in the denominational inscription and the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Two strong stalks of wheat are visible, with a portion of a third stalk appearing below and slightly left of the stronger stalk at the left.

Professional Coin Grading Service graded the coin Mint State 63 brown. Heritage notes in the lot description, “Glimpses of orange-red emerge from minimally marked olive-brown surfaces.”

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