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Viewpoint: Don’t forget to check the reverse

 Doubling is evident in the engraver’s initials on this Shield cent reverse.

Doubling is evident in the engraver’s initials on this Shield cent reverse.

By Ken Potter

As I was writing a story about an error cent, it occurred to me that most of the stories I’ve written in recent months revolved around checking the obverse of a coin for the date to see if it was a 1982-D Small Date, a 1983 or 1983-D Lincoln cent that needed to be weighed to see if it was struck on a solid copper ally planchet in error, or the discovery of a new significant doubled die on a 1944 cent showing best on the date, or my story on the 1968-S proof half dollar with an inverted “S” mintmark; all appearing within the last few months.

Going back to last year in January of 2016, I covered the discovery of a beautiful 2015 doubled die Lincoln cent that was discovered in November of 2015 that showed its strongest doubling on the date. I really like this coin and I’ve seen it advertised in every issue of NN starting shortly after I wrote the story, so it’s always in mind. This coin got me to thinking about the fact that other than the true die-hards, many folks that check for the more significant varieties involving the obverse never bother to check the reverse of the coin.

I must admit that I fall into that latter group, or at least I did when my eyes were better and I searched BU rolls throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. I stacked all the coins with the obverse up and then started searching them with the intent to maybe spot-check the reverse of some of the coins. But out of the hundreds of BU Lincoln cent rolls that I still own, mostly dated from the late 1930s through the 1960s, I’ve barely scratched the surface of searching the reverses. They are essentially unsearched. Part of it was the fact that I enjoyed finding repunched mintmarks, and the mintmark was of course on the obverse. And checking for a doubled die obverse just made sense since it only took a split second more for a casual glance of the date, “LIBERTY” and sometimes “IN GOD WE TRUST” if I was so inclined. Of course if there was a major DDR known I checked for it too, but most listings for the era were minor and I suspect that even many of the die-hards weren’t looking that closely.

So with the thought of the 2015 doubled die obverse (DDO) Lincoln cent still fresh in mind, I decided to check CONECA’s and John Wexler’s websites to see if I might have missed something for that date or if something new was added that involved the reverse of the coin ... and yes there was!

It’s a doubled die reverse (DDR) that went up on CONECA’s and Wexler’s site shortly after I wrote the story on the 2015 DDO and one that I missed as I combed through the obverse listings in later months to see if anything else more dramatic was found. As it turns out, Stephen Young submitted a very nice DDR for the 2015 Lincoln cent within a week or two after my story. His submission to Wexler being on Dec. 21 and my article in a January issue of NN appeared on Dec. 19 on the NN website meant that I would have missed it for that article.

But the story on the 2015 DDO had me geeked up as in that article I described how the doubled dies were getting stronger and stronger each year since about 2010. So I constantly checked back to see what more had come in for 2015 and then 2016 and I totally missed this one because not much had yet been found on the reverses of the Shield cents that tickled my fancy; all were what I considered minor so I skipped checking to see what was listed for the reverses.

This new reverse doubled die is not earth-shattering but it is what I call a “nice ’un,” one I wouldn’t mind owing in the earlier die state that Wexler has pictured and the only one I consider “collectible” from my perspective of what makes my boat float. It’s one that probably deserves to go into the Cherrypickers’ Guide as it definitely has pizzazz and is the strongest DDR known to date for the Shield cent reverse. Designed by Lyndall Bass and engraved by Joseph F. Menna, it is described by Wexler as:

“Doubling shows on the designer’s initials LB, the designer’s [engraver ’s] initials LFM, the top right of the scroll, and the letters in AMERICA. Slight notching shows on the bottom left of the letters in ONE CENT and slight distortion can be found on the letters in EPU where the distortion increases from left to right.”

It is listed by him as WDDR-002 and by CONECA as 1-R-IV+VIII. The strongest doubling that I find appealing is on Menna’s engraver’s initials.

Now many folks probably don’t have hundreds of rolls of BU cents from the 1930s through the 1960s like I do, but don’t let that fool you. Many folks who have bought boxes and rolls of more recent date cents may just find a surprise awaiting them. It might not be worth thousands of dollars, but you might just be surprised to find several rolls of this 2015 or other date doubled die reverses worth $25, $50 or more for each coin. Or you may find one of the rare 1982 DDR cents worth in the four figures.

So now I’m wondering if I will ever find the time to check the reverses of all my Lincoln cent rolls as they sit collecting dust. Maybe never, but I expect that if my daughter ever takes an interest in coins, she may hit the jackpot!

Why not take a look at your coins including other denominations and let NN know what you find?

John Wexler’s website is CONECA’s listings are at

This “Viewpoint” was written by Ken Potter, error authority who writes for Numismatic News.

Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to

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

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