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What Determines if a Coin is Classified as Doubled Die Obverse?

What is a Doubled Die Obverse Coin?

Doubled die obverse, or DDO coins are produced by coin dies that are not properly manufactured. The malformed die contains at least one duplicate image, letter, number, or word.

Doubled die obverse coins have at least one double image on the coin’s obverse side. If you are trying to identify any potential doubled die obverse coins in your collection, look closely at the coin’s obverse.

Pay special attention to words on the coin and keep a magnifying glass or loupe handy! 

How are Doubled Die Coins Created?

The root cause of doubled die coins lies in the creation of dies.  

The Mint uses a stamp called a hub to create coin dies with a CNC milling machine. Several generations of hubs are employed to craft the working dies that strike coins. In the iterations of hubs and die, the image it imprints will be off-center if a hub is not perfectly aligned.

If the misaligned die is used to strike coins, the coins it produces will have a doubled image, letter, number, or word. Doubled die obverse coins may have a partial or completely doubled image.

Are Doubled Die Obverse Coins Valuable?

Doubled die obverse coins can be valuable depending on their doubling, condition, and rarity. Coins with a fully doubled image tend to sell for more than those with a partial doubling.

The 1955 Lincoln wheat cent is a classic doubled die obverse coin and the best of these can sell for thousands of dollars. This cent’s doubling can often be seen by the naked eye, especially on the date as well as on the words Liberty and In God We Trust.

There were 20,000-24,000 doubled die 1955 Lincoln wheat pennies thought to exist. Many of these coins were distributed through cigarette vending machines.

If you are seeking one of these pennies, beware of the saturation of counterfeits on the market. Try to find a 1955 DDO Lincoln wheat cent that has been graded and verified by a trusted third party coin grading service.

How to Tell the Difference Between DDO, Double Struck Coins, and Ejection Doubled Coins

Now that we understand what doubled die obverse coins are, how they are created, and their general value, what distinguishes DDO coins from double struck and ejection doubled coins?

Understanding the functions of coining presses and chambers will help you understand these differences.

The coining chamber is where the coining press strikes coins at a rate of up to 720 per minute. This chamber includes an upper and lower die and a collar to keep the coins round as pressure is exerted on blank planchettes.

Once the coin is struck, it is ejected from the chamber, and a new planchette takes its place. 

What are Double Struck Coins?

While doubled die coins have been struck with a die that has multiples of an image, letter, or word, double struck coins are struck more than once by an accurate die.

Doubled die coins are produced when there is an error in the die manufacture, and double struck coins are produced due to an error in the striking process.

A way of visually telling these two error coins apart is to pay attention to the doubled elements, and we will use text as an example. On a double struck coin, the first line or word of text will look like it has been flattened or pressed down to the side. With DDO coins, both sets of text will be raised from the field.

When the die strikes a coin more than once in the coining chamber, it creates a double struck coin. The secondary strikes either flatten or obliterate the initial design.

You can tell a coin has been double struck by closely examining it for evidence of multiple strikes. This includes the presence of flattened first impressions and may include multiple images on the coin.

Double struck coins are often worth more than their single strike counterparts. 

What are Ejection Doubled Coins?

A post-strike transfer, known as shelf doubling or ejection doubling, is often confused for a doubled die error. This kind of coin error is created when a coin is ejected from a coining press that has not been properly adjusted.

Ejection doubling errors result in a coin with designs that look smeared. This smearing makes the coin look like a double-tucked one. To tell the difference, look closely at the doubled image.

In coins with ejection doubling, the doubled image will only be half the height of the primary image. Meanwhile, a doubled die coin will have duplicates of an image that are the same height from the field of the coin.

Shelf doubled coins do not sell for a higher premium than their counterparts. 

In summary, doubled die obverse coins are determined by the presence of design, text, or image doubling on the obverse of a coin. A second strike will not squish over the duplicate element and will be roughly the same height as the primary design, text, or image.

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Step 1:

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Step 4:

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