100 Greatest U.S. Modern Coins Series: Doubled Die, Lincoln Cent

Nothing says classic coin like a Lincoln Cent. Whether it is a Wheat Cent, Memorial Cent, or a Shield Cent, perhaps nothing represents United States coinage more than the profile of President Abraham Lincoln’s on one of the most used and produced circulated coins ever. Because of this, varieties and error coins are more likely and the Lincoln Cent’s long history provides a number of them.

To continue our series that looks into Whitman Publishing’s 100 Greatest United States Modern Coins, we focus on the variety of Doubled Die Lincoln Cent rankings that make the publication’s fourth edition. The top 100 is authored by Scott Schechter and Jeff Garrett in addition to the influence of some of the most well-known coin dealers in the numismatic hobby.

#2, #10, #33, #44, #56, #62, #73 - Doubled Die, Lincoln Cent

With the extensive number of Doubled Die varieties in the Lincoln Cent category that makes the top 100 list in the publication, let us break down each year and variety to the following:

  • #2 - 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse
  • #10 - 1972 Doubled Die Obverse
  • #33 - 1983 Doubled Die Reverse
  • #44 - 1970-S Double Die Obverse, Large Date
  • #56 - 1995 Doubled Die Obverse
  • #62 - 1984 Doubled Die Obverse
  • #73 - 1971-S Doubled Die Obverse

Still showcasing Victor David Brenner’s original obverse design beginning in 1909, the Lincoln Cent features President Abraham Lincoln’s right side profile with the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” following the top arc of the coin and the words “LIBERTY” to the left of him. The date and mintmark are featured at the bottom right of Lincoln. The reverse of the Memorial design was crafted by 10th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, Frank Gasparro. It features a frontal view of the famous Lincoln Memorial with “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” boldy following the top arc of the penny and “ONE CENT” following the bottom arc of the coin. “E PLURIBUS UNUM” appears above the depiction of the Memorial.

It is often in doubled die coins that a microscope or loop has to be used as the appearance remains faint in most cases although there are coins that numismatic tools are not needed. Die doubling occurs, in most cases, when the design of the coin is duplicated on the die that is responsible for striking the coin. The position of the die is also exactly identical on all the coins it strikes. There is also a term called strike doubling that can often be confused with die doubling. It occurs when the die bounces on the surface during striking and can create a shadow of the design making it appear like die doubling. Strike doubling is not a valuable occurrence unlike some of the die doubles that have occurred.

Highest Ranking Doubled Die Lincoln Cent - #2 - 1969-S Obverse

The highest ranked doubled die Lincoln Cent (#2) in the publication’s top 100 is the 1969-S Lincoln Cent. Authentic versions of the coin are hard to find as there have been a number of fakes out there found that have been what is most commonly known as machine doubled. The variety itself was initially found in the mid-1970s where it was originally seized because it was thought to be counterfeit. It was later found to be genuine and the hunt began for this circulated Lincoln penny.

According to NGC’s price guide, the highest grade certified in a MS63 BN was recorded at $43,500. A MS64 RB was realized at auction in 2012 at $80,500. Perhaps the most ever given for the doubled die variety was in 2008 when it was purchased at auction is a MS64 RD for $126,500. The current NGC price guide for that same coin now sits at $132,500.

The 1969-S was originally ranked #1 in the first edition of the publication while being knocked down one peg in the second edition. It has stayed at #2 since then.