Steve Atwood of Florida managed to nab five new doubled-die reverse varieties of the recently released 2015-P Homestead (Nebraska) America the Beautiful quarters. At least one of the varieties falls into the category of what I’d consider major while a second variety is what I’d classify as borderline-major, perhaps strong enough to find its way into the Cherrypickers’ Guide To Rare Die Varieties by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton.
The doubling on his top two finds involves the water pump located in the foreground of the design superimposed over the Freeman schoolhouse. The doubling of the strongest variety shows as an extra, fully separated, upper curve of the pump handle wide northeast within the frame of a window in the school house. John Wexler who provided the images of the doubled dies shown here listed this one as WDDR-004.
Atwood’s second best find also involves a portion of the upper pump handle doubled up to the northwest but not as fully separated as the more major variety. It also sports strong doubling of the vertical window frame as pointed out by the arrow. Wexler listed this one as WDDR-005.
His other finds are relatively minor, though very collectible. They involve doubling of the window frame to a greater or lesser degree. These varieties can be seen here: http://doubleddie.com/1467540.html.
Atwood, has been collecting for four years starting when his grandparents gave him a box of foreign coins. He quickly got interested in U.S. coins with an interest in Morgan and Peace dollar varieties (VAMs), large and half-cent varieties, etc. When he realized it was far easier to search for varieties and find new discoveries in modern coins, he began searching new releases from his bank. He searched seven boxes of the Homestead quarters saying that he found two of each of the two varieties featured here and about seven of each of the more minor varieties.
Atwood first reported his finds on the Internet based, Coin Community Family Forum. After his posts, one member, a young numismatist from Omaha, Neb., going by the handle, “ChildOfTheWheat,” posted an image of the more major variety that he said he received for free at the Homestead quarter launch ceremony held at Beatrice High School, which is a few miles from the national monument that is depicted on the coin’s reverse.
Approximately 1,800 of the coins were passed out free to school children who attended the event. Since the specially marked 40-coin rolls that were exchanged for cash at the event were from the Denver Mint it is unclear as to why any of the coins passed out to youngsters were Philadelphia issues, or if all of them were. What is clear is that at least one of the coins was the doubled die and that more are probably in the hands of those school children. If the coin takes off, they might have hit pay dirt for attending school.
If history is any indication of value the more major of Attwood’s finds may elicit collector interest and thus significant value. However, much of the value and more so than of other lesser finds may depend on how many different varieties are found.
For example, the 2005 Minnesota state quarter doubled-die reverse varieties involving an “Extra Tree” or portions thereof started out strong with many of the earlier finds easily selling in the three figures. But as the number of finds climbed, settling in at over 70 varieties for the Philadelphia issue alone, the values fell with only the very strongest few approaching or exceeding the three- figure mark today. The satin finish mint set pieces do better due to their lower mintages.
On the other hand, even minor doubled varieties for the Minnesota quarter were often bringing in two-figure prices when they sold on eBay in recent months. Not a bad profit for a 25-cent investment for those who search bank wrapped rolls. It does show that despite the numbers, interest is there.
However, none of the Minnesota doubled dies have the eye-appeal of the top Homestead quarter doubled die. It is more comparable to the 2009-D District Of Columbia Doubled Die Reverse #1(DDR-001 FS-801), which features strong doubling of “ELL” of Duke Ellington’s name and the piano keys below. An example of this variety, which has proven to be rare, sold in PCGS-66 on July 10, 2014, in a Heritage Auction for $3,055, including the buyer’s fees.
PCGS shows a population of five for the variety with prices at MS-64 $200, MS-65 $1,000, and MS-66 $3,000. Chances are strong that an MS-64 would actually trade much higher due to its rarity. Still, the D.C. quarter doubling is more prominent and involves lettering so it’s hard to compare other than to say that the Homestead quarter doubled dies are far more prominent and more interesting than those found on the states quarters, such as the Minnesota, Oregon and Wyoming.
The United States Mint largely replaced the multiple hubbing process in recent years by the more modern “single squeeze” restrained hubbing process. The “single squeeze” process produces doubled dies that are more often than not, restricted to the central areas of the design. The face of a die blank (referred to as a “die block” in Mint jargon) is machined with a slightly conical configuration to aid in the flow of metal during hubbing. This would indicate that the initial kiss of a hub into a die blank would be restricted to this centralized area before continuing on to fill out the rest of the design. During this process the tip of a tilted die blank would be positioned slightly off location away from the center of the hub into a different area of design than intended. After the initial contact, the pressure of the hub would eventually seat the die blank in proper position, and in turn cause doubling on the affected die.
Ken Potter is co-author of “Strike It Rich With Pocket Change” and writes feature articles for “Numismatic News” and “World Coin News.” He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. An educational image gallery may be viewed on his web site at www.koinpro.com.
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