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Die breaks on

Numismatic News reader, Eddie Sullivan, sent in two 2008-D Arizona state quarters that feature die breaks, die chips and die cracks. His first one exhibits a die break that extends from the patch of cacti above the date encroaching into the top of the “2” of 2008.

Numismatic News reader, Eddie Sullivan, sent in two 2008-D Arizona state quarters that feature die breaks, die chips and die cracks. His first one exhibits a die break that extends from the patch of cacti above the date encroaching into the top of the “2” of 2008.


This area has proven to be a prolific area of die breakage as several different dies have already been identified with die breaks in this area. When a piece of die breaks and falls away, it will leave a void in the die that will then fill with coinage metal as the planchet is being struck. The result will be blob-like aberrations on the coins struck from that die wherever the breaks appear.

Shown is an Arizona quarter with a normal date and one with the die break covering the top of the “2.”

Sullivan’s second coin features die chips within the letters of IN of IN GOD WE TRUST. Die chips are the same as die breaks except that they are smaller. The coin also shows a series of connected die cracks along the base of Washington’s bust, which is an exceedingly common area to find them on all dates of the Washington quarter. Additionally, there is a die chip in the lower loop of the “9” of 1912 on the reverse.

Brian Gross of Pennsylvania, wrote to tell me about an Arizona quarter die break some received at the ANA’s World Fair of Money Convention this summer. Gross said: “In the course of walking the bourse, an elderly man approached us and informed us that ICG, NGC and PCGS were giving away sample slabs to the children.

“I thanked him, and as my wife and I were looking at a specific table, my son, Corey, went to the NGC tables where he received a sample slab, which contained an Arizona quarter. (PCGS gave away 2005 Bison nickels and ICG gave 1959 Lincoln cents).

“Upon his returning to the table my wife and I were at, I asked what they (NGC) gave him. Corey preceded to hand me the SAMPLE slab and stated it is an Arizona quarter.

“I looked at the slab and put the quarter under my loupe to check for the extra cactus varieties [this is what eBayer’s were calling ones with die breaks in them]. Sure enough, the designer’s initials were partially covered by a die break. The adrenaline started to pump and I explained to Corey what I saw.

“I don’t think he ever saw me that excited. I started to throw some offers out to him, but then I caught myself and explained to him that just that fact he received this in a sample slab and from the World’s Fair of Money, no matter how insignificant the variety may be, it is worth keeping.

“I was actually jealous for a moment. It was a good day. I got what I came for (a 1983 doubled-die cent) and Corey received a souvenir he will always remember. And I will too!”

Dwain Hartpence wrote to ask about a 2008-P Arizona state quarter of which he sent a scan showing what he refers to as a “cud” within the uppermost fork of the large Saguaro cactus to the immediate right of the ribbon (not shown here). What is actually present is a die break in this area – not a major die break or what is often referred to in slang as a “cud.”

Because they are so numerous, die breaks, die chips and die cracks are generally considered minor and carry little if any numismatic premium. On eBay we often see these items sell up into the two figures for the first few that appear only to quickly see them drop to about $1 each for awhile before the market finally drops to practically face value and they disappear from the listings altogether.

This is a cycle that repeats itself over and over again for each and every new issue that the Mint releases since die breaks and chips, etc., are common to all the issues.
Nonetheless, as I’ve stated before, they are fun to find and collect. They are also educational in that they are just one aspect of the study of the minting process and the errors and varieties that may result from it.

Ed Twarog of Michigan found a major die break on a 1947-S Jefferson nickel while looking through a batch of coins. It shows nicely at the base of Jefferson’s bust. It is listed in Sam Thurman and Arnold Margolis’, The Cud Book, as JNC-47S-1 and represents the only cud listed for that date/mint/denomination.

Mike Mizak of Mike’s Money Mart of Michigan came up with a neat base of bust cud on a 1936 Lincoln cent. It is listed as LC-36-16 in the 2001 Cud Book Supplement.

Major die breaks (cuds) are often confused with die breaks or even die chips that are found within the interior of the coin design but have no connection to the shank of the die or edge of the coin. A die break no matter how large that does not involve the edge of the die is not a cud. It is simply a die break, which may be defined as a small, medium or large die break (see Alan Herbert’s Official Price Guide to Mint Errors for an in-depth discussion on die breaks, chips, etc.).

We also illustrate the cud error here on an actual silver round die so that the concept of what it is can be better understood. Remember that a cud always, without exception, affects both the shank and face of the die as we see here.

Ken Potter is the official attributer of world doubled dies for the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America and for the National Collectors Association of Die Doubling. He also privately lists other collectible variety types on both U.S. and world coins in the Variety Coin Register. He is a regular columnist in Numismatic News’ sister publication, World Coin News, where he pens the Visiting Varieties column. More information on either of the clubs, or how to get a coin listed in the Variety Coin Register may be obtained by sending a long, self-addressed envelope with 58 cents postage to P.O. Box 760232, Lathrup Village, MI 48076, or by contacting him via e-mail at An educational image gallery may be viewed on his Web site at