Double Die Coins: The Introduction

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Written By Natasha Jones
I'm Natasha Jones, an avid collector of coins, stamps, and paper money. My passion drives me to seek unique finds, from antique shops to international exchanges. I enjoy connecting with fellow collectors through forums and meet-ups, sharing discoveries and insights. Collecting, for me, is about preserving history and building a community around this shared interest.

Double die coins are a type of error coin produced with an error in stamping.

In this case, the die has misaligned lettering, causing one side of the coin to have two different images stamped on each other.

While these are not common errors, they can be worth much money when discovered.

We’ll take you through everything you need to know about double-die coins!

What are Double Die Coins?

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Double die coins are a type of error coin that results in doubling the design on a coin.

They’re usually pronounced to spot, as the two designs often show a clear difference.

Double dies occur when there are two strikes on one blank. Several factors can cause these and are only sometimes intentional.

The most common reason for a double die is excessive pressure placed on one side of the coin during striking, which causes it to rise slightly before hitting the planchet again.

However, this can only happen if there’s enough friction between both sides of the coin during striking due to improper lubrication or excessive pressure being used in minting presses and dies that aren’t appropriately conditioned (or both).

Why is Double Die Coins Valuable?

The most important thing to understand about double-die coins is that they are valuable because of their rarity.

The U.S. Mint minted these coins and accidentally struck two times in a row, resulting in an image that looks like it’s been stamped on twice. If you remember how far back this happened—it was before automation!

So if you can imagine how challenging it would be to strike a coin twice in one go, you’ll understand why these coins are so rare today.

Double die coins also have historical value because they were produced during significant moments in history: America’s Civil War and World War II both saw military action overseas.

This led to an increase in demand for U.S currency as Americans sent money abroad for troops and supplies (to name just one example).

This means there was more opportunity for double dies to be created than regular coin production schedules allow—meaning more chances for collectors today!

How to Identify Double Die Coins?

The first way to identify a double-die coin is by looking for a doubling of the design.

If a coin has been struck more than once, you may see two outlines of the same image instead of one.

A good example would be if you were looking at an American quarter dollar and saw two parallel lines instead of just one.

Another way to identify double-die coins is by looking for doubling in other areas such as their date, mint mark, motto, or lettering.

You can also look at the rim on some coins to see if there are any differences between them too!

Machine Doubling vs. Doubled Dies

People frequently confuse true hub doubling with machine doubling.

However, real doubled dies can be extremely valuable, whereas machine doubling is only worth a little.

The difference is that machine doubling occurs during the coin-striking process and happens when a worn-out die shifts, nearly striking the coin twice.

Machine doubling, however, is not the same as a double-struck coin. It is possible to distinguish between machine doubling and doubled dies in specific ways.

The primary distinction is that when doubling on a machine, the doubled part will look smeared and shelf-like.

This is because the serifs on a machine-doubled coin will be blended, in contrast to a doubled die, which will be sharply defined and typically have two distinct serifs at the end of each doubled letter.

Additionally, on a genuine doubled die, the doubled letters will be the same height as the original letters rather than being smaller.

Types of Double Die Coin Errors

Double dies are produced when the hub imprints an additional, out-of-place image onto a die.

The various ways this image misalignment can happen have been categorized into eight classes.

This classification system resulted from the United States mints’ use of the multiple-squeeze hubbing technique, in which the working dies was purposefully hubbed more than once to transfer an entire image.

Since then, many mints worldwide—including those in the United States—have switched to the single-squeeze technique, anticipating the abolition of this hubbing error because only one hubbing is required.

However, the new approach led to an increase in the frequency of doubled dies. Here are some classes of doubled die coin errors:

Class 1, Rotated

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Results when the die receives a second, incorrectly aligned hubbing, either clockwise or counterclockwise.

Class 2, Distorted

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Between hubbings, when the rim is approached by the hub’s design, a class 2 error is made.

Class 3, Design

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When a hub with different design stamps a die with a different design, the result is class 3 doubled die.

Class 4, Offset

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When an additional hubbing is applied to the die that is offset from its normal alignment.

Class 5, Pivoted

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When the die receives an additional hubbing that was rotated incorrectly with a pivot point close to the rim, the result is class 5 doubled die.

Class 6, Distended

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When the die receives a second hubbing from a distended hub.

Class 7, Modified

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When the hub is altered between the die’s hubbings.

Class 8, Tilted

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When a hub or die is tilted during a hubbing, class 8 doubled die results.

5 of the Most Famous Double Die Coins:

1909 VDB Doubled Die Obverse

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This coin results from a Class IV doubling, also known as offset hub doubling. This means the image was shifted instead of rotated. The doubling can be seen on the date, and the letters R, T, and Y, in the word LIBERTY.

1917 Doubled Die Obverse

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This error coin is a result of Class V doubling, also known as pivoted hub doubling. This happens when the image is pivoted around a pivot point instead of the image is rotated. This coin shows the doubling on the date and the words IN GOD WE TRUST.

1958 Doubled Die Obverse

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Maybe the rarest of all double-die coins in the double-die coin error variety, with only two examples known to exist! This coin features doubling the words IN GOD WE TRUST, LIBERTY.

1960 D/D Doubled Die Obverse

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This coin is among the most interesting error coins because it has a repunched mintmark and a double die error. This is a classic example of Class III Doubling, also known as design hub doubling. In the 1960s, there were both large and small date designs. This coin was struck with a small date hub over a large date hub.

1969-S Doubled Die Obverse

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This is probably the second-rarest DDO known after the 1958 DDO. Only a few are known to exist, and only two have a certification of MS-64. However, the naked eye can easily see the doubling of the words LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST. In 2007, one of the coins was sold for $126,000!

Before you go…

Double Die coins are a great way to invest in the future of your collection. These coins can be valuable if they have a high grade and are pristine. I hope this article helped you answer your questions about double-die coins! Happy Collecting!

Check out my next article: “How Can You Tell if a Coin is DDO?

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