US Coins

Collector finds 1969-S Double Die Obverse Lincoln cent in roll

When Colorado collector Bryan Trigg received a 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent in change in April, it reawakened his interest in searching rolls of cents. Now that new-found enthusiasm has resulted in the discovery of a rare 1969-S Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse cent.

Trigg hand-delivered the coin to ANACS on May 28 after driving an hour from his home. Two hours later, ANACS returned the coin, now encapsulated in an ANACS holder graded Extremely Fine 45.

Auction transactions during the last decade by Heritage Auctions record five-figure prices; two About Uncirculated 58 examples sold for $23,500 in 2012 and $28,200 in July 2013, as examples.

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The 1969-S Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse cent is discernible by all obverse lettering and numerals being doubled, except the S Mint mark. The S Mint mark was punched into the die after completion of the die’s production.

Exciting find

Trigg said he found his 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse cent May 16 while searching through $18 worth of rolled cents he acquired from a local bank.

A collector off-and-on since the age of 8, Trigg, 35, said he got the urge to resume searching rolls in April, after he received a 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent in change while working at his second job.

Trigg said he had searched through roughly $5 face value worth of the cents when he came across the 1969-S coin. Until then, he was primarily looking for Wheat cents as well as other dates and Mint marks to fill coin folders.

Knowing that the 1969-S cent might be the valuable doubled die variety, Trigg said he compared the coin’s diagnostics to those outlined in his copy of Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton that he had purchased only a week before. “I wanted to make doubly sure it was what I thought it was” before the next step in confirming his find, Trigg said.

Convinced he had an example of the 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse cent, Trigg said he drove an hour from his home to ANACS in the Denver area to have the coin authenticated and graded.

To say he was thrilled with the outcome is an understatement, Trigg said. Originally from Oklahoma City, Okla., Trigg said that as a youngster he used to visit local coin shops with his parents and purchased coins based on how much money he could convince his parents to part with so he could pursue his hobby. 

Pleasantly surprised graders

ANACS senior numismatists J.P. Martin and Michael Fahey were as surprised with Trigg’s submission as Trigg was in finding the coin.

Martin and Fahey say for every genuine 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse cent seen, thousands of examples of machine-doubled or strike-doubled coins exist. 

“It was a surprise — a pleasant surprise, but a surprise,” Martin said.

According to “A doubled die (hub doubling) is caused by a misalignment or a mismatch between a working hub and a working die. The misalignment or mismatch occurs between a first and subsequent hubbing or sometimes in the course of a single hubbing. Misalignments can occur along three orthogonal planes and three orthogonal axes. Doubled dies that are the result of a misalignment are variously characterized as rotated, offset, pivoted, or tilted. Doubled dies that are the result of a design mismatch are variously characterized as ‘distended,’ ‘distorted,’ ‘modified’ and ‘design hub doubling.’ A total of eight classes are recognized.

“Coins struck from a doubled die will show doubling of the design elements. Doubling can be limited to one element or encompass much of the design. Doubling can be subtle or so extreme as to produce entirely separate elements of equal strength. All coins struck from a doubled die will show the same degree of doubling from coin to coin.”

Machine doubling is caused by loose, worn or improperly adjusted dies on a coinage press.

On the genuine 1969-S Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse cents, in addition to the obverse doubling, die polish diagnostics can be found on the reverse.

“Before being placed into service, the reverse die was rather harshly polished, leaving a number of strong, raised die polish lines,” according to Fahey in the April 1, 1996, installment of his monthly Coin World column, Detecting Counterfeits.”

“Every genuine 1969-S Doubled Die cent I have seen has exhibited these raised lines, even the circulated specimens,” Fahey wrote. “The most easily seen are the two lines at the E of UNITED, the line through the M of AMERICA, and the lines that extend down from the lower edges of the R and I of AMERICA.”

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