Robert Lawson of Ohio has come up with a fairly major Repunched Mintmark (RPM) variety on a 1948-D Lincoln cent that to the best of my knowledge is unlisted by all the entities that list modern die varieties. The variety shows as a D/D with the secondary D shifted to the east.
The United States Mint discontinued the practice of punching mintmarks into individual working dies in 1989. That’s 27 years ago and in that time one would think that just about anything that was major would have been found by now. Yet new varieties are still being found and listed on a regular basis, though the vast majority are far less significant.
I defined “major” as easy to see and of a fairly wide spread. In this case the variety is of approximately the same strength as the 1955-D/D cent listed in the Cherrypickers’ Guide To Rare Die Varieties by Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton as FS-503. The 1955-D FS-503 fades in the upper loop of the secondary D while this one fades toward the lower loop. FS-503 displays the secondary mintmark just a tad further to the east than this one but this one blows away many of the other Denver mintmark varieties listed in CPG for the earlier years.
Relatively heavy die flow lines on this new variety show that when the die struck this coin it was well into the mid-die state and that an earlier die state would undoubtedly show more definition with a stronger lower loop. A higher grade would show more too with me grading this coin in at about strong very fine bordering on extremely fine.
I check with major RPM references and found that for this date and mint, Albert Kramer lists none in his book, Doubled ‘D’ Cent Guide; Billy Crawford none in his book, A Detailed Analysis Of Lincoln Cent Varieties, and on their respective website listings, CONECA lists six, CopperCoins 10 and John Wexler 30. None of the RPMs listed by these entities for this date/mint are anywhere near as dramatic as this one.
So one might ask the question, why hasn’t this one been discovered over the decades that RPMs have been popular with collectors? The easy answer is that the coin is rare but the fact that the specimen we have examined appears to be in the mid-die state suggests that tens of thousands must have been struck. So where are they? Well, the die may have been heat treated improperly and the die experienced premature die fatigue leading to a rapid failure of the die. This could account for the mid-die state appearance. Or maybe most got sent to a location where there were few collectors and got heavily circulated and enough circulated examples just have not been searched.
The only thing we know for sure is that there has to be more. I suggest that readers take a hard look at their collections to see if they have an example of this coin.
Repunched Mintmarks are the result of the practice of punching the Mintmarks into the individual working dies via a hand-punch up until 1989. It often takes more than one punching to obtain an impression of sufficient strength. If the engraver tasked with the job fails to set the punch back into an earlier impression with exacting precision, the later impression(s) may be off register with earlier impression(s) creating an RPM. They may also occur due to punch-bounce during a single attempt at applying the mintmark into the die. Triple and Quadruple RPMs are also known along with mintmarks punched in horizontally and then corrected with a normal vertical punching.
Contact Numismatic News editor, Dave Harper if you find one of these. Good luck with your search.
Our image from within the United States Philadelphia Mint shows an engraver getting ready to punch a mintmark into a die that is set in a jig. This image by Arnold Margolis is courtesy of Fred Weinberg.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. An educational image gallery may be viewed on his website at http://koinpro.tripod.com.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
>> Subscribe today or get your >> Digital Subscription
More Collecting Resources
• Come on down to the Chicago International Coin Fair in Rosemont, Ill. on April 14 to 17, 2016 to see impressive world coins, meet new collectors and participate in Heritage Auction’s fantastic coin auction.
• Start becoming a coin collector today with this popular course, Coin Collecting 101.