US Coins

US Mint strikes dime overdates in 1942

Third segment of cover feature published in its entirety in the Feb. 1, 2016, Monthly issue of Coin World:

The Winged Liberty Head dime series is known for its easily recognizable 1942/1 overdate variety from the Philadelphia Mint and the less distinctive Denver Mint strike, the 1942/1-D.

In The Complete Guide to Mercury Dimes, author David W. Lange writes the 1942/1 coin is the most sought after coin in the Winged Liberty Head dime series, more so than the 1916-D, and is also the target of counterfeiters.

Not only is the 1942/1 dime an overdate, it is also a doubled die obverse, created during the die production process, according to Lange.

In 1942, the U.S. Mint sunk working dies from a working hub using two impressions, with a delay between impressions to heat or anneal the die, to soften it to accept the second impression. 

Should the second impression be slightly misaligned from the first, a doubled die would occur, Lange explained.

In the case of the 1942/1 and 1942/1-D dimes, according to Lange, hubs of two different dates were used for the successive impressions of the die.

As early as September 1941, dies were being prepared in the die shop at the Philadelphia Mint for 1942-dated production, while 1941-dated dies were still needed to strike calendar-year 1941 output. 

Connect with Coin World: 

On at least two occasions, a working hub dated 1941 was used for a die’s first impression and one dated 1942 for the second impression.

“The result was a pair of overdate dies, one employed at Philadelphia, the other shipped west to Denver,” according to Lange. 

(Both overdates are also represented by alterations, genuine 1942 and 1942-D dimes that have been altered by having metal added or moved around from manipulated date digits, in attempts to fool collectors.)

Genuine 1942/1 dimes are listed in Coin World’s Coin Values at $650 in Extremely Fine 40, $2,500 in Mint State 60 and $4,500 in MS-63. The 1942/1-D dime is listed in Coin Values for $650, $2,500 and $4,750 in the same grades.

It didn’t take long in the 1940s for eagle-eyed collectors to identify the anomalies.

Read the rest of this feature on the Winged Liberty Head dime's 100th anniversary:

Kingston, N.Y., collector Arnold Cohn reported, for publication in the March 1943 edition of The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, his discovery from circulation of a 1942/1 dime.

The magazine’s editor, Lee F. Hewitt, submitted Cohn’s discovery, for an explanation of its production, to Chief U.S. Mint Engraver John Ray Sinnock, whose Roosevelt dime would supplant the Winged Liberty Head dime in 1946. Sinnock’s comments were published in the May 1943 issue of the magazine.

Sinnock’s initial impression, no pun intended, was that Cohn’s coin had been produced from a 1941 dime subsequently overstruck with a 1942 die or had been struck from a die formed from separate impressions from a 1941 hub and a 1942 hub.

Several years later, U.S. Mint Director Nellie Tayloe Ross acknowledged that, despite precautions taken in segregating dies from different years, the hectic pace of production was such that “a die may have been given one blow with a 1941 hub and then, by some accident, finished with a 1942 hub.”

Photographs illustrating the overdate were published for the first time in the May 1943 issue of The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, sending collectors into a tizzy in search of an example.

French’s, a coin firm in Troy, N.Y., began advertising soon after in The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, offering to buy examples of the Denver Mint overdate.

The genuine 1942/1 overdate’s key diagnostic point is a raised lump between the 4 and 1 that is aligned with the bases of the digits.

“It’s worth noting that this overdate is, in fact, 1942/41, the first two digits likewise being doubled to some degree,” according to Lange.

“The fact that numeral 1 appears to have been partially effaced from the die suggests that someone at the Denver Mint was aware of the overdate and attempted to correct it,” according to Lange. “No such evidence is found when examining the 1942/41(P) variety.”

The cause of the 1942/1-D dime is the same as that for the Philadelphia Mint overdate.

On the Denver Mint strike, the doubled die obverse is evident also on the letters of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. One pair of dies used for this variety also features a repunched Mint mark, explains Lange.

While several collectors are credited with discovery of the 1942/1-D overdate dime, Lange, in researching his book, uncovered the earliest published report of the overdate, in the November 1960 issue of The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine from an unidentified collector in West Baldwin, Maine.

The collector reported a friend had shown him an example of a Winged Liberty Head dime dated 1942/1, but the friend didn’t know it was a Denver Mint strike until asked to turn it to the reverse, revealing the D Mint mark to the left of the base of the fasces.

Community Comments