Unlike the dated obverse, U.S. coins’ reverses don’t change every
year. That means that when reverse die varieties occur, they can be
compared to other examples in a multiyear series. Specialists will
therefore sometimes refer to a doubled die reverse (DDR) as “one of
the best in the series.” I’ve studied three different reverse dies
that are in contention for the title of “best doubled die reverse” in
their respective modern series.
A doubled die occurs when, during the manufacture of a coinage die,
a working hub impresses two misaligned images of the legends or
devices. This doubling is then imparted onto all the coins struck by
the die in the same way. In most cases, doubling appears as a small
shift on a portion of the design.
Typically, dramatic and readily visible doubling on a coin makes a
variety more collectible and more valuable. Rarity also plays a role.
Beyond the Lincoln, Memorial cent series — for which the 1983 DDR is
considered king — the question of which doubled die reverse is best in
each modern coins series becomes more debatable.
My other picks for best of breed doubled die reverses include the
1970 Roosevelt, Doubled Die Reverse dime and the Proof 1971-S
Eisenhower, DDR silver dollar.
Among Roosevelt dimes, I like the 1970 variety identified as FS-801
in the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties. It has
strong doubling on all the reverse legends, especially on the words OF
AMERICA. The only example with similarly strong doubling in the entire
series is the 1970-D DDR dime, FS-802, but this Philadelphia Mint
counterpart is much rarer. In fact the Cherrypickers’ Guide
notes, “This variety is extremely rare.”
Numismatic Guaranty Corp. has graded four examples, while
Professional Coin Grading Service has graded only one. Its rarity
combined with visual drama make it very desirable.
Another really good DDR and possibly the best one in the Eisenhower
dollar series is the Proof 1971-S silver-copper clad dollar attributed
as FS-801. Doubling is strong and very evident on AMERICA and PLURIBUS.
This variety was discovered only about 10 years ago. To the surprise
of many dedicated specialists and despite searching for these coins in
Mint holders exhaustively, this variety remains elusive. NGC has
certified five, PCGS just two.
Because the dime and dollar seldom trade, they are not very well
known. Keep your eye peeled for them, as you might find one.