David Sutton of Michigan can lay claim to reporting the first major doubled die known to me on a 1926 Winged Head Liberty dime; often mistakenly referred to as a Mercury dime.
It’s certainly not of the stature of the 1955 or 1972 doubled-die cents, but it is of a strength matching or exceeding that of many other Winged Head Liberty dime doubled dies listed in the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton. As editor of the last edition of CPG to include dimes, I would have included this one had I seen it in time.
Sutton showed up at the Michigan State Numismatic Society Fall Convention on Nov. 28 with his coin in tow. It had been certified by ANACS (who actually first spotted the variety) as being a doubled die but seemingly went unheard of by the masses due to a lack of good publicity until now.
None of the four CONECA state representatives present at the show were aware of the existence of the coin – though I had heard rumors of a nice Merc dime DDO being found as early as late September but with no confirmation of such from an e-mail sent to CONECA’s listing service on Sept. 22 (no response) and not known to John Wexler as of early December. Sutton indicated that CONECA listed it for ANACS as DDO-001, 1-O-IV+V-CW@K9.
Of interest is that Sutton’s coin turned out to actually be a tripled or quadruped die obverse – though this distinction is only readily seen on the upper left serif of the W of designer Adolph A. Weinman’s AW monogram.
The coin shows moderate to strong hub doubling (a doubled die) on the ERTY of LIBERTY, the AW monogram, and on the wing feathers in Miss Liberty’s cap. Light to moderate doubling can be seen in the hairlines. Very light doubling is present on portions of the date and IN GOD WE TRUST and only mentioned here for completeness.
This one has undoubtedly been missed by die variety specialists over the years because the doubling is located in areas where most specialists do not start their hunt. The first areas generally checked are the date and IN GOD WE TRUST – areas where the doubling is minimal on this coin.
Sutton said that he had checked every 1926 Winged Head Liberty dime at the show in an attempt to find another example but struck out.
Since the existence of the variety is new to the hobby and none has traded, it is difficult to estimate value other than to say it should at least be in the three figures for a nice uncirculated coin or multiples of the value of a normal coin. Supply and demand will ultimately be the decider.
Hub doubling during the era in which this coin was struck, was possible due to a phenomenon known as work hardening. This caused the metal of the face of a die to become too hard and too brittle to allow a complete image to be sunk into it from the hub in one operation without causing it to crack or shatter. As a result, several impressions or hubbings were required to produce a die when using this process.
(The United States Mint largely replaced the multiple hubbing process in recent years by the more modern “single squeeze” restrained hubbing process).
Before the early 1990s, between each hubbing the die was removed from the press and annealed (heat softened) thus allowing for another impression without shattering the die.
If for some reason a partially finished die was reinstalled into a press for strengthening and the hub and die was improperly indexed, resulting in a misalignment of images, or if the hubs varied in design from the one(s) used for earlier impressions – hub doubling also resulted.
In this case the doubling appears to have occurred due to misalignments between several hubbings. Both rotational and offset misalignments have been identified.
It should be noted that Strike Doubling, (often referred to by others under different terms such as Machine Doubling or Mechanical Doubling), is prolific in the series and adds no value to a coin. This doubled die variety will look exactly like what you see here – though earlier and later stages struck from fresh or mushy dies may show to a greater or lesser degree in strength.
Readers are invited to report any new specimens of this variety found to editor Dave Harper at David.Harper@fwcommunity.com.
Ken Potter is co-author of “Strike It Rich With Pocket Change” and has written many feature articles for “Numismatic News” and for “World Coin News.” Email him at email@example.com. An educational image gallery may be viewed on his website at http://koinpro.tripod.com.