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July 25, 1972


1972 marked the discovery of the “Double Die” cent. This story in Numismatic News, covers the discovery of the error coins and provides theories towards their origin.

‘Double Die’ Cents Discovered in East

A 1972 “double die” cent, similar to the 1955 variety, is turning up in significant quantities along the East Coast, according to reports reaching Numismatic News.

The reports indicate collectors in Pennsylvania, new Jersey, and Connecticut have been finding the error cents in Philadelphia Mint bags – and even in circulation – since about the first week in June. More recently, they have been reported in Iowa too.

Photographs of one of the cents, supplied by Philadelphia coin dealer Harry J. Forman, show obvious doubling of the letters in the observe mottos – “in God We Trust” and “Liberty.” The date is also doubled, but not as conspicuously so. As was the case with the 1955 cent, the reverse is normal – though on most specimens it reportedly is rotated slightly.

It appears that the ’71 “double die,” like the ’55 variety, is a double hub error. Such errors occur during the operation in which the die receives the impression from the hub.

The hub is driven into the softened die twice in order to form the incuse pattern used in striking coins. Between the first impression and the second, the die is annealed to resoften it. A “double die” results when the die is turned slightly in its holder while being mounted to receive the second impression.

Double hub errors are distinguishable from other forms of doubling in that two separate and distinct images are present, appearing most prominently at the edges of a coin and merging as they go toward the center. This explains why Lincoln’s bust is not discernibly doubled on the ’55 cent – or on the new error cent.

Over the years, collectors have used various terms to describe coins with such errors. “Double die” and “shift” are those most commonly used, but “double hub” is actually most accurate.

The doubling is not as dramatic on the ’72 cent as on the ’55 variety, but it is plainly visible without the use of a magnifying glass – particularly in the lettering.