At the recent Long Beach Coin and Collectibles Exposition, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) examined, authenticated, and graded the finest 1958 Double Die Obverse (DDO) Cent. This second of only two examples known to exist is now safely encapsulated in an MS-65 Red PCGS holder. The new 1958 Double Die Obverse Cent was submitted by Stewart Blay, a noted Lincoln Cent specialist, who acquired the coin recently for an undisclosed sum described as being "well into six figures."
The doubling on the obverse of the 1958 DDO Cent is most evident on the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" and the word "LIBERTY". The error is nearly as dramatic as the doubling on the 1955 Double Die Obverse Cent, except that the date on the 1958 shows only slight doubling. Today, the 1958 Double Die Obverse is virtually unknown except to experts in the field, partly because it was discovered so long ago and partly because only two (possibly three) examples have been found.
Mystery shrouds the discovery of this variety. Around 1960, a collector from the Philadelphia area (possibly a Mint employee) found two examples in a Mint sewn bag of 1958 Cents. In 1966, photographs of one of the coins were sent to Coin World, where the variety made its debut in a Collectors Clearinghouse column. In 1973, the owner, then identified as W. Marira, re-sent the images to Coin World and the coin became the subject of another Collectors Clearinghouse column. Despite the publicity, no other examples have appeared on the market, although a third has been rumored to exist.
Around 1996, the collector consigned the coin to dealer and Lincoln Cent specialist Sam Lukes, who sent it to ANACS for authentication and grading. ANACS assigned a grade of MS-64 Red and the coin was sold in a private transaction at a price reported to be around the $25,000 level. Subsequently, the coin was recertified by PCGS as an MS-64 Red and resold for $57,500.
The second example, slightly nicer than the first, was retained by the collector who discovered it circa 1960. In 1995, Kevin Flynn examined the piece, photographed it, and made it the subject of the HOT TOPICS section of his book (The Authoritative Reference on Lincoln Cents, co-authored with John Wexler).
According to Stewart Blay, he has been on the trail of the second example for 20 years. Recently, through perseverance and serendipity, Blay found the collector and offered to purchase the coin, only to discover that the collector was not interested in selling it. Apparently, Blay made an offer that was too good to refuse, as he is now the proud owner of this incredible rarity.
The 1958 Double Die Obverse Cent is one of the highlights of Stewart Blay's collection, listed as the Number One Set in several categories in the PCGS Set Registry(SM).
PCGS asked Blay what he planned for an encore. His dream now is to someday find, if it even exists, a Mint Red 1943 Bronze Cent. Good luck, Stewart!