The Professional Coin Grading Service of Newport Beach, Calif., has announced that it will begin grading and attributing the 2005-P Minnesota state quarter doubled dies that have been found in recent weeks. These varieties were reported in front-page stories in the July 18 and Aug. 8 issues of Numismatic News. Additionally, since the Aug. 8 story was published, three new doubled die varieties have been found, including one in a government-issued mint set.
According to PCGS president Ron Guth, PCGS intends to slab the coins as varieties using the ?Extra Tree? designation and listing them by die number. The numbers associated with each variety as they have been reported in NN with my Variety Coin Register numbers will be used except that no particular numbering system will be favored over another with designations kept simply as Die 1, Die 2, etc.
In the meantime, three new varieties have been reported. The first new report came in from Jennifer Snyder of Portland, Ore., who found one in a U.S. Mint Uncirculated Set (mint set). The coin exhibits the special satin finish found on the coins from these sets. Like the DDR#1 and DDR#2 featured previously, this one involves a portion of the third full tree to the right of the state outline with the doubled area fully displaced from its point of origin out into the field.
However, it involves a portion of the tree a bit higher than the first two varieties as is shown in our image. The obverse exhibits markers as die cracks through John Flanagan?s and William Cousins? designer initials JF and WC at the truncation of Washington?s bust. A light depression runs along the base of WC. Reverse markers are noted on the tops of all trees, which exhibit ?trails? extending at a slight angle to the northeast. This diagnostic has been noted on a number of other recent doubled dies and may or may not be related to the doubling.
Snyder revealed that she just started collecting coins last year with her initial interest in the state quarter series. The ?extra tree set? was actually a replacement set for her as the one she ordered from the Mint contained a damaged Kennedy half dollar. However, because the Mint was sold out, she was forced to purchase it locally from Clackamas Gold & Silver of Portland, Ore. She left it sealed in the original box. It wasn?t until she saw reports on Collectors Universe that she decided to open it and found the variety. I now list her find as VCR#4/DDR#4.
Submitters for DDR#2 and DDR#3 reported in the Aug.8 issue have been busy searching for additional specimens and have turned up two new varieties in the process. Richard Helbig sent in the next new variety. Like DDR#1, #2 and #4, this one involves a portion of the third full tree to the right of the state outline with the doubling fully displaced from its point of origin. This time the ?extra tree? is shifted to the southeast with most of the doubling intermingled with and between the lower portion of the third tree and the rock to the right except for the teardrop-shaped element that is floating free above.
It will take some time to see most of the doubling of this variety, but if you compare the photos of this one with photos of the earlier dies, which are clear of the doubling in this lower region, you will eventually pick up on it. The obverse exhibits markers as die cracks through John Flanagan?s and William Cousins? designer initials; a die chip has developed within the ?W? of WC. Reverse markers are numerous with perhaps the subdued die scratches through the ?2? of the date the most prominent. This one has been listed as VCR#5/DDR#5.
Colleen Prebish sent in the sixth variety. Like DDR#1, #2, #4 and #5, it involves a portion of the third full tree to the right of the state outline with the doubling fully displaced from its point of origin. However, in this case for the first time the doubling is shifted predominantly to the left of the third full tree, down to the southwest. It is most easily seen as our familiar teardrop-shaped element that appears attached to a rock while some other slight doubling can be seen above and below. Faint traces of the highest areas of relief that are normally positioned above the teardrop shaped element on the full tree are evident on this die stage but may be worn off on later stages. The reverse exhibits die markers as numerous subdued die scratches perhaps most prominent through the date.
The area of doubling on all six varieties reported thus far represents the virtual dead center of the coin?s design. This is an important key to their attribution because specialists believe they are the result of tilted hubs that were seated into proper position during hubbing.
Tilted hub doubling restricted to such a small area of design within the center region of the die is possible due to the result of either of two related scenarios:
1) The hub is backed off after the initial ?kiss? of the hub into a tilted die blank and is then reset properly and hubbed again.
2) The hub and die blank are titled in relation to each other and are then forced to seat into proper position by hubbing pressure within a split second after the initial kiss of the hub into the tip of the die blank.
It must be understood that 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 titled die blank would be positioned slightly off location, away from the center of the hub into a different area of design than intended, and thus the misplaced area of doubling on the affected die.
Very similar effects are known on several Canadian 1974 Winnipeg Centennial nickel dollars where all the doubling is restricted to the center of the die. In fact, it is ironic that the 1974 Winnepeg dollar DDR#1 and DDR#2 share the exact same design element displaced in two slightly different locations in a like manner to what is seen here on Minnesota quarter DDR#1 and DDR#2! Former Royal Canadian Mint master engraver Walter Ott attributed the first one (the only one he saw first-hand) as being created in the manner described above, indicating that the doubling could have been created via either of the two scenarios noted here.
With these Minnesota quarters, we are well into the single-squeeze hubbing era (which was not the case with the Canada varieties in 1974), so researchers feel that the doubling would have most likely occurred when a tilted hub/die seated into proper position within the single squeeze of the hub. As the name implies, the single-squeeze hubbing procedure, impresses a complete design into a die with just one pass of the hub. The single-squeeze hubbing process was introduced to U.S. coinage starting in fiscal year 1986, at which point it was used for master dies, working hubs and pilot testing for production dies.
It was introduced to widespread use of production dies starting in 1997 and phased in for other dies over the next year or so with some exceptions. Prior to FY 1986, all working dies were created via the multiple hubbing process, which required anywhere from two to a score or more impressions from a hub into a single die. This process required annealing (softening) of a partially completed die in between hubbings and a perfect alignment between the hub and die for all subsequent hubbings to avoid doubling. When the alignment was off for any reason, hub doubling resulted. From this process was created great numbers of doubled dies recorded by specialist up into the thousands of dies so affected, mostly minor, along with some notable wide-spread varieties, including the famous 1955 and 1972 doubled die cents.
In 1996 during opening ceremonies of the Denver Mint, Coin World editor Bill Gibbs was advised by an official that the single-squeeze hubbing process could produce some close-spread doubled dies but that it would eliminate those of a wider spread. Shortly after, Philadelphia Mint officials took the opposite position and have continued to maintain over the years that there was no possibility of doubled dies being created at all from the single-squeeze process. They have consistently stated that none of the varieties submitted to them for examination in recent years were true doubled dies. This included the 1997 double ear Lincoln cent that contains 15 areas of doubling in the central regions of the design and the 2004-P Peace Medal nickel (sometimes called the ?Handshake? nickel) that displays fairly wide-spread doubling with classic diagnostics that many in the hobby, including all the doubled die specialists and major grading services, consider a diagnostic of hub doubling.
As was noted in the previous installment of this series, conditions that may be present within a hubbing operation ? whether it be sloppy workmanship, a defect in tooling or a set up that allows for one doubled die to occur ? often persists long enough for many doubled dies to occur. For that reason, many years that are famous for a particular doubled die actually have many different known varieties for the date and denomination (and sometimes for several denominations). For example, CONECA lists 17 different doubled dies for the 1972 Lincoln cent obverse from all Mints while it lists a total of 10 different varieties for the obverse and reverse of the 1983 cent.
With this in mind, I suggest that there could be even more doubled die varieties for the Minnesota state quarter just waiting to be found. The fact that one has been found in a mint set should also suggest that such varieties might also be found in government-issued proof sets! Unlike Denver Mint dies, which are made in their own die shop, dies for proof coins are made at the Philadelphia Mint. That is where all of the current finds are from, so it stands to reason that Philadelphia may have created some doubled dies for the San Francisco dies also. In fact, since heavy concentrations of doubled dies often are found for several years in a row or within eras, there may be many more of this type (where the designs allows) with doubling in the center of design on other state quarter designs issued in 2005 or other years. Other denominations should not be ignored for this type of doubling.
Readers should also be aware that die numbers (eg., DDR#1, DDR#5, etc.) assigned to these varieties do not in any way indicate an order of importance. What they indicate is the order in which varieties are reported. Often the first variety for a given date and denomination is the best or most significant variety because it was the easiest to find based on the strength of the variety ? but there are many exceptions. In this case we have several that are just as strong as each other! I ask that any finds of the varieties already listed here or new ones be reported to me for a possible follow-up article.
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.
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 63 cents postage to P.O. Box 760232, Lathrup Village, MI 48076 ,or by contacting him via e-mail at KPotter256@aol.com. An educational image gallery may be viewed on his Web site at address www.koinpro.com.