The 1995-D doubled-die cent might have been made on purpose!
Yes, you read that right. It is possible that the Denver Mint struck the not-so-well-known but very rare 1995-D doubled-die Lincoln cent on purpose.
Let me relate this story. Some of you will remember that in the Dec. 18, 2018, issue of Numismatic News, I wrote a front-page story on the discovery of seven 1995-D doubled-die cents by newcomer to the hobby Dilenia Fiore. She accomplished this feat during her first attempt at searching BU rolls for die varieties after watching a YouTube video about finding valuable coins, including die varieties and errors, in rolls.
That story prompted two readers to contact me about their observations. Jessica Johnson of Iowa advised me that she had found one a year earlier. She posted pictures of the coin a couple of weeks ago and, sure enough, it was a nice, sharply struck example in a Red-Brown uncirculated grade.
Perhaps even more interesting is that Chuck Wishon Sr. of Colorado, who owned a coin shop there, told me that the minute he saw pictures of the coin in Numismatic News it reminded him of his trip to the Denver Mint for their new die shop dedication on May 13, 1996. He told me that he had visited the Mint many times, but this time was a special occasion as he was accompanied by his good friend J.T. Stanton (who most of you know was a co-author to the Cherrypickers’ Guide To Rare Die Varieties).
He related that at some point during the tour, he and J.T. had strayed off from the group and walked over to a bench where a Mint worker eventually pulled out and showed them doubled dies that he told them were minted on purpose to educate their workers as to what a doubled die is. Chuck said that from what he could remember, the 1995-D doubled-die he and J.T. saw in Denver looked just like the one pictured in my Numismatic News story.
While we will never know for sure if it is from the same die, I must note that I was particularly impressed with how sharp and well struck the coin in the pictures I used was. My first impression was that it had to be a very early die state coin or what I’d call one of the first coins off the die. So the rarity of the 1995-D (with only about 100 pieces certified so far) might be explained by the fact that so few were minted before the die was destroyed. If the Mint only struck a few hundred and somehow they got out, then finding many would be impossible.
Chuck also showed me a 1996-D Lincoln cent that was in a special commemorative pouch made to be given to guests of that tour. It, and a picture of J.T. and Chuck in front of a hubbing press at the Denver Mint, are shown here.
We have known for some years that the Mint has made doubled dies intentionally. It tried to replicate some of the doubling seen in recent years in the central regions of the design on Washington quarters to try to learn how hub doubling (doubled dies) were happening during the single-squeeze hubbing process era in which the Mint had originally claimed no doubled dies could occur. However, this is the first time we are aware of them making them intentionally on Lincoln cents or for educational purposes for their employees to examine.
Nonetheless, these doubled dies are still out there even if they are tough. While Fiore certainly experienced good luck in finding seven within a few weeks of getting interested in coins, Johnson says she had been searching for one for over two years and thousands of 1995-D cents, and she has only found one. Many others have searched for this coin for over 20 years and never found one. But I repeat: they are out there.
More details on this coin; population reports, etc., can be found in my Dec.18 report or online at: https://www.numismaticnews.net/article/doubled-die-cents-found-by-newcomer
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