US Coins

Market Analysis: MS-65+ 1955 Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse cent brings $124,875

Top-population coins continue to excel at auction, as seen on March 1 when GreatCollections achieved a record price of $124,875 for a 1955 Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse cent graded Mint State 65+ red by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker. The Lincoln cent series has hundreds of different doubled dies, and the primary 1955 DDO cent is one of the strongest and best-known of all the doubled dies.

Examples were struck in the late summer or early autumn in 1955 when the defective die made its way to the coining floor and was installed on a press. Once the mistake was discovered, it was determined that about 40,000 1955 DDO cents were struck, of which 24,000 were already mixed with other cents and released.

It is an example of Class I or Rotated Die Doubling, with widely separated doubling on the date, the motto, and LIBERTY that is visible to the unaided eye.

At first these were called “Shift cents” but Ken Bressett’s adoption of the term “doubled die” in A Guide Book of United States Coins gave us the nomenclature we use today.

Q. David Bowers recalls that the Philadelphia Mint had little reason in 1955 to think that these would be popular with collectors, instead viewing them simply as defective coins. Many examples were found in cigarette packs, as packs cost 23 cents and change would be returned in the form of two cents in the cellophane wrapper.

Today lots of choice About Uncirculated examples exist and a nice choice AU example with a bit of red color can be found for under $2,000.

Deceptive counterfeits exist too, so third-party certification is advised for the issue.

The population thins in Mint State grades with examples featuring original full Mint red being especially coveted. PCGS has graded 20 in MS-65 red and a single example — the offered coin — in MS-65+ red. When it sold at Stack’s Bowers Galleries in March 2018, that cataloger wrote, “Bathed in a blend of medium orange and pale rose colors, the surfaces are fully lustrous with a soft satin finish,” adding, “Generally pristine, a few extremely faint and easily overlooked carbon flecks are all that seem to preclude an even higher grade.”

No MS-65 red examples have sold at auction in recent years, though a gorgeous PCGS MS-64+ red example with a CAC sticker sold for $28,800 in January at Heritage’s Florida United Numismatists auction.

Ian Russell, founder and president of GreatCollections, said after the sale, “The winning bidder is a serious Lincoln Cent collector from the East Coast. While we do not disclose individual bidders’ identities, the underbidders could combine to form the who’s who of American numismatics.” 

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