What Are Doubled-Die Coins and Why Are They Worth More?
When it comes to valuable collectors' items, coins are often one of the first types of items that come to mind. In general, the value increases when you have rare coins. One valuable type of collector item is the doubled-die coin. What are the most valuable doubled-die coins, and how do you know if you possess one?
Doubled-die coins are the result of an error in the manufacturing of a coin. When a coin die isn't manufactured correctly, it may have two images on one coin die. These mis-manufactured coins can be worth much more than their face value, at thousands or even millions of dollars.
What are doubled-die coins?
A doubled-die coin can occur in any coin value, although pennies appear to be one of the most common denominations for which doubled-die coins have been found.
The Spruce Crafts explains that there's a difference between double-struck coins and doubled-die coins, and many people tend to confuse the two. A double-struck coin is one that is "struck more than once while the coin is in the coining chamber of the coining press." The first impression may be destroyed by the second strike.
However, a doubled-die coin can occur if the mint employee doesn't properly align the coin hub above the coin die. Then, if this coin die is used, every coin made with it will have the doubled-die impression, which is two images slightly off from each other.
What year pennies are doubled-die?
According to the American Numismatic Association, these are the top five doubled-die coins in terms of their value:
- 1958 Doubled Die Obverse
- 1955 Doubled Die Obverse
- 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse
- 1972 Doubled Die Obverse
- 1995 Doubled Die Obverse
What are some of the most valuable doubled-die coins?
Some of the most valuable doubled-die coins can fetch a high price tag because of their rarity. The fewer of the specific doubled-die error in existence, the more money someone might be willing to pay for it.
The New York Post reported this month that a doubled-die Lincoln wheat penny sold on eBay for a whopping $2,050. The bidding reportedly started at just $1 before growing to over $2,000. The coin was minted in 1955, and was one of a series known as a wheat cent or a "wheatie."
Professional Coin Grading Services (PCGS) authenticated the coin sold on eBay and awarded it a grade of PCGS AU50, according to the seller.
The $2,050 penny may seem like chump change compared to the doubled-die penny from 1958 that sold in January 2023 for $1.136 million. The coin was auctioned by the GreatCollections Coin Auctions, which works with the American Numismatic Association, a nonprofit dedicated to education about coins.
Browsing eBay will show you many doubled-die coins, priced from as low as a dollar to tens of thousands of dollars. For example, a 1955 1C Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent is listed at $45,000 or best offer.
How can you identify a doubled-die coin?
The record-setting coin sold for over $1 million was one of just three doubled die pennies of its kind minted in 1958, reported FoxBusiness. According to Blake Alma, of Lebanon, Ohio, a coin collector and founder of the coin-collecting blog CoinHub, doubled-die pennies may have doubled artwork and the text may have a "minor deviation" or "major structural anomaly."
Alma also told Fox Business that when the structural error of doubled-die coins is discovered, the U.S. Mint is supposed to destroy them. "Double die pennies are highly sought after by coin collectors because they are considered a rare and valuable error," he said.
To accurately identify a doubled-die coin, you may need a magnifying glass. Look for whether the edges appear doubled. Other clues may be a second uppercase letter directly below the date, breaks on the edges of letters, or dips or bumps inside letters like D or O.