Skip to main content

New 'Hot Lips' dime identified

  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Mark Joyner of Pennsylvania has added a second “Hot Lips” Doubled Die Obverse Roosevelt dime, a 1951, to his roster of finds. He reported a 1964-D dime with a doubled die on the profile, first to John Wexler and then to me in December 2014.

Doubled  lips earns this 1951 dime the “Hot Lips” moniker.

Doubled lips earns this 1951 dime the “Hot Lips” moniker.

I wrote about his original find in the Jan. 6, 2015, issue of Numismatic News. That set off a treasure hunt for more. While a few more 1964-D coins were reported, perhaps the most interesting twist was that readers found the “Hot Lips” effect on three other date/mints, a 1953-S; a 1955-S and a 1964 Philadelphia issue – all of which I reported in NN last year. With this new find for 1951 we now have five confirmed varieties of this type for five different years/mints.

Joyner’s 1964-D was the strongest example sporting the doubled profile. The other finds including this latest one are less pronounced but still nice.

“Hot Lips” is an old-time term of endearment for the 1888-O Doubled Die Obverse VAM-4 Morgan dollar. This is one of the most popular VAM varieties listed by Leroy C. Van Allen and George A. Mallis in their book The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan & Peace Dollars. The term has been applied to these dimes due to their similarity.

A split of the lower serif on the “I” in the date might prove to be a die marker for this 1951 Hot Lips variety.

A split of the lower serif on the “I” in the date might prove to be a die marker for this 1951 Hot Lips variety.

It should be noted that these varieties have been accepted as doubled dies by the vast majority of doubled die specialists. I know of only one objector, Dr. James Wiles, who lists some categories of 20th/21st century die varieties on United States coins for the Combined Organizations Of Numismatic Error Collectors Of AMERICA (CONECA). He originally listed them as doubled dies and later stated that he felt they were the result of Clashed Dies, i.e., impressions that sometimes transfer from one or both dies to each other when a planchet fails to enter the coining area and the press cycles anyway and the dies clash into each other.

To be sure, I created overlays of the obverse and reverse designs in the orientation in which they would be if they clashed into each other. I used a 1964 dated coin because it was representative of the original find. The result was that the doubled lips (and other areas) were impossible to have been created by a die clash.

Clashed dies are unlikely to have caused what looks like doubling in the lip area. The reverse design elements do not affect the front of the lips.

Clashed dies are unlikely to have caused what looks like doubling in the lip area. The reverse design elements do not affect the front of the lips.

If you examine my composite image (overlay) you will see that the only design element that could possibly cause any clash marks from the reverse in this general area is the olive from the olive sprig and it as a clash mark is actually too far within the Roosevelt profile to cause this doubling. Below this design element there is nothing that could have caused doubling on the lower lip, or the more subtle doubling on the forehead on some of the varieties and chin area. The opposing area for these designs where the doubling has been seen is open field on the reverse.

This new 1951 variety shows moderately strongly on the upper and lower lip; and very faintly on the chin. There is a strong split in the lower serif of the first 1 of the date and a tiny split at the end of the tail of the 5. I do not know if these are the result of hub doubling; if they trace back to the master die (as they might), or if they are just damage to the hub that was used to make the die but they are noted here for completeness since they might ultimately turn out to be valuable markers unique to this die at the very least.

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 the die in one operation without causing it to crack or shatter. As a result, several impressions of hub into die, or hubbings, were required to produce a die when using this process.

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 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 resulted.

The Mint largely replaced the multiple hubbing process in 1997-1998 by the more modern “single squeeze” restrained hubbing process, which was supposed to eliminate hub doubling but in fact accelerated it.

Hub doubling can also occur within a single or first impression if the die blank is set in the hubbing press cockeyed. In this case the tip of the cone shaped apex of the die makes its initial contact with the hub out of proper position and is then seated into proper position by the increasing pressure of the hubbing press. To put it another way, design starts to form out of proper position and is then shifted when the die is seated flush its retainer in the press. This effect is the most common cause of doubling today with the single-squeeze hubbing process but there is ample evidence to prove that it was a cause of some doubled dies even during the days of the multiple hubbing process. It is my belief that these “Hot Lips” varieties are the result of tilted dies as explained by this second theory.

Readers finding any more of these varieties should email the editor at

Ken Potter is co-author of “Strike It Rich With Pocket Change” and has been a frequent contribute to “Numismatic News” and “World Coin News” for many years. More information about the error club, CONECA, may be obtained from him at An educational image gallery can be found on his website at

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
>> Subscribe today or get your >> Digital Subscription

More Collecting Resources
• Subscribe to our monthly Coins magazine - a great resource for any collector!
• Purchase your copy of The Essential Guide to Investing in Precious Metals today to get started on making all the right investing decisions.