Most variety enthusiasts, to include this author, dream about finding that all-elusive major doubled die.
Imagine my excitement when I was recently contacted by Numismatic News reader Jerry Allery of North Dakota sending me a scan of a coin he had just found in a roll of 1970-S Lincoln cents.
It only took a second in looking at his scan that I knew immediately it was the 1970-S 1c Major DDO#1.
This doubled die obverse is well known and is profusely illustrated in most variety reference books to include The Cherrypicker?s Guide to Rare Die Varieties, fourth edition, volume one, by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton, as FS-029. It is also recognized in the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America registry as 1970-S 1c DDO-001/1-O-I and it is assigned in my Crawford ?C? files as CDDO-001.
Allery only recently became involved with the die variety segment of our hobby and sends me coins on a regular basis for examination and attribution. His primary source is by searching circulated coinage obtained from local banks in hopes of finding doubled dies and repunched mintmarks.
However, Allery informed me that the circulated coinage in his area is predominately Denver branch and he wanted to further expand his searches by acquiring some San Francisco branch rolls. Upon contacting a dealer on the West Coast, Allery purchased some various dated ?S? coins, including a roll of ?70-S cents.
I asked Allery if this was an original ?shotgun? bank-wrapped roll, but he informed me it was a hand-wrapped roll with all the coins from the roll looking near the same condition and grades. Ironically, Allery also told me the 1970-S doubled die was the last coin he looked at from the roll. His wife commented to him that he looked like he had seen a ghost and in reply told her he believed he was looking at a ghost coin!
Unlike the many different ?extra tree? varieties recently reported on the Minnesota state quarters that are from the single-squeeze hubbing process, which was implemented to eliminate doubled dies, this 1970-S cent variety is a result of the earlier multiple-hubbing technique era.
Hubbing is the process of transferring the image of a hub into a die blank, which previously required being done several times in order to receive an adequate impression for striking coinage. Between the hubbings, the die blank requires annealing, which is a process of heating and cooling to soften for the next impression. If the die blank were misaligned from the previous hubbing, a secondary image would be impressed resulting in a working die with a doubled image.
There are several classes of doubling with Allery?s 1970-S cent DDO falling under the Class I rotated hub doubling. This type of class occurs when a die blank being hubbed is rotated near the center of the die from a position it had been before the previous hubbing. Classic examples of rotated hub doubling are the famous 1955 cent DDO#1, the 1969-S cent DDO#1 and the 1972 cent DDO#1.
Diagnostics of Class I is the doubling will be more visible on the design elements that are located near the rim. The shift of doubling will be in the same direction from the primary design elements, which can be either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
The photos of Allery?s coin illustrate the strong clockwise rotated shift on all the lettering of the motto, the letters of LIBERTY and the date. Notice that the doubling spread decreases on the date as well as the letters of LIBERTY closer toward the center of the die. This is due to the rotation being originated in the center of the die, which is another diagnostic of Class I rotated hub doubling.
The Cherrypicker?s Guide comments, ?This is an extremely rare variety in any grade, and definitely one of the rarest of all Lincoln cent varieties.? Most assessments speculate 12 or fewer specimens known.
John A. Wexler, attributor and author of many variety reference books, noticed ?that it has the characteristic die crack through the upper left zero of the date. Every specimen I have personally seen of this variety, and every photo taken by others of the date on this variety, shows this die crack. It is my belief that after a very limited number of specimens were struck, the die failed, broke, and was removed from service. It is my opinion that this is why this particular variety is so rare.?
As far as pricing this variety, it is very difficult with so few specimens known. The Authoritative Reference on Lincoln Cents, by John A. Wexler and Kevin Flynn, says that ?an ANACS MS-64BN recently was sold by Sam Lukes for approximately $6,000 and the ANACS MS-65RD was recently sold by Mr. Lukes for over $10,000.?
My examination of the coin reveals original red cartwheel luster and in my opinion a higher Mint State grade.
Allery plans to submit his coin to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation for grading and encapsulation.
Once again, this re-emphasizes that varieties are out there to be found and yes, even dreams can come true in finding that extremely rare major type. I enjoy hearing from collectors. Good luck in your searches and may your dreams come true!
Billy G. Crawford is author of A Detailed Analysis of Lincoln Cent Varieties ? Volume Iand co-author of The Authoritative Reference On Eisenhower Dollarswith John A. Wexler and Kevin Flynn and is publisher and editor of the free online bi-monthlyDie Variety News Magazinewhich can be accessed online at http://home.sc.rr.com/dievarieties/Die_Variety_News.html. He can be contacted via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.