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Dime series’ doubled dies ignored

A couple weeks ago I started thinking about how ignored the Roosevelt dime series is, in particular the clad series, and it got me to thinking that it is probably chock full of doubled dies that nobody has found based solely on the fact that nobody is looking for them.

A thickening of the design is seen on this doubled die obverse.

This got me to wondering how many doubled dies might be known for these dates. I knew that in recent years, starting in about 2004, thousands of doubled dies were recorded on the cents, quarters and dollars – the coins that are the most heavily searched. I also knew that the few folks who were looking were finding them on Jefferson nickels, though they were getting scant attention in the press and nothing major had been found since the Westward Journey series ended in 2005. So why not Roosevelts?

2007-P reverse doubling submitted by Allen Darrow.

I checked John Wexler and CONECA’s listing and noted that Wexler had only about two dozen listings since 1971, and James Wiles (administrator of the CONECA listings) had six for the same time period. The last time a number of nice ones were found was 1970!

2008-D reverse doubling submitted by Don Hall.

What I noticed in Wexler’s listings was that the number and significance of varieties found was greatly increasing in the past three years (not counting 2017). In 2014 three were recorded, which was the first year where more than one doubled die was found for a single date and mint since 1970. In 2015 the number rose to seven, and in 2016 we got six for Philadelphia and three for Denver (those prior were all Philadelphia).

2013-D reverse doubling submitted by Allen Darrow.

This falls in line with a statement I published in NN previously, suggesting that the older tooling used for hubbing dies gets, the sloppier it gets and if not replaced we can expect there to be more doubled dies in number with wider spreads as time goes on. This has been proven to be the case for the Lincoln cents. To date, none of the Roosevelt dime finds are major, but that’s based on the few that have been found so far. My guess is that there are dozens more to be found and that there are a few that might be deemed major enough for a listing in The Cherrypickers’ Guide To Rare Die Varieties.

2014-P reverse doubling submitted by Allen Darrow.

Let’s take a look at some of the recent finds. You will note that all but one are reverse doubled dies and affect either the middle olive leaf or the upper bands around the fasces. These represent the high points of the center of the design which has been the area most affected on 99 percent of the doubled dies discovered since the implementation of the single-squeeze hubbing process in around 1997/1998 – though there are a few exceptions.

2015-P reverse doubling submitted by Ronald Burke.

Of the ones shown here dating from 2007 through 2016, you’ll see our first one is the only one that represents an obverse doubled die. It is the only one that is referred to as a Class VI – Distended Hub Doubled Die, which results in thickening of the affected designs. This one was discovered by Jeff Young of Ohio in 2013 and is currently unlisted by Wexler or Wiles. The thickening shows best on IN GOD WE TRUST, the mintmark and the date. The balance of varieties are all reverse doubled dies that affect the middle olive leaf or upper bands around the fasces.

2016-P reverse doubling submitted by Mike Schulfer.

They are all listed for their respective dates/Mints by Wexler as WDDR-001. The 2007-P was submitted by Allen Darrow, the 2008-D by Don Hall, 2013-D by Darrow, 2014-P by Darrow, 2015-P by Ronald Burke, 2016-P by Mike Schilfer and the 2016-D by Rickard L. Hurley.

2016-D reverse doubling submitted by Richard L. Hurley.

So what’s major? Perhaps a good example might be the 1954 Doubled Die Revere dime that I show with strong doubling of on the right side of the lower torch. This one is listed in the Cherrypickes’ Guide as FS-801 and is a tough find. It was submitted by Richard Bateson of Michigan.

A doubled die reverse from a 1954 Mercury dime is a basis for comparison.

I’d be remiss to ignore the 2004-D Roosevelt dime with what is referred to as an “Extra Ear”. This coin has been very controversial, with some feeling that the doubling is the result of a die clash while others think hub doubling (a doubled die). I am currently reviewing overlays of this coin for a second time after some years since my first review and I am very close to changing my listing from it being a die clash to a doubled die. No matter what it is, it is very unusual and should be on your hit list! It was discovered by Michael Keane in 2004.

It’s debatable if this 2004-D “Extra Ear” error (middle) is the result of a die clash or hub doubling. Overlay at right.

Hub doubling during the pre-1997/98 era 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 or hubbings were required to produce a die when using this process. Between each hubbing the die was removed from the press and annealed (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 were improperly indexed, resulting in a misalignment of images, hub doubling occurred.

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 also produces doubled dies but normally such doubling is more or less 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 titled 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.

More of John Wexler’s doubled die listings can be seen here at www.doubleddie.com. CONECA’s listing may be viewed at www.varietyvista.com.

Readers finding any new varieties are encouraged to report them to Numismatic News Editor David Harper at david.harper@fwmedia.com.

All photos except the 1954, 2004-D and 2007-P DDO are courtesy of John Wexler. The 2004-D Overlay is by Billy Crawford.

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, that he represents may be obtained from him at kpotter256@aol.com. An educational image gallery can be found on his website at http://koinpro.tripod.com.


This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.


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