Jaime Hernandez -
October 27, 2009
The 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cent is unquestionably the most famous doubled die coin in the entire Lincoln cent series and possibly the most famous doubled die coin in numismatics.
The doubling on the 1955 Doubled Die cent is very dramatic and can easily seen with the naked eye. The doubling is most prominent on the date, the word "LIBERTY" and in the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST."
If someone had placed a 1955 Doubled Die cent in XF40 condition under their mattress in the year 1970, it would be worth approximately $172. In 2009, the same coin would be worth approximately $1,800 in the same condition. See chart below:
How the 1955 Doubled Die Cents Were Produced:
The 1955 Doubled Dies were created when the Mint struck a working hub and a working die together while they were both slightly rotated differently from one another. Consequently, this working die then received a doubled die impression and as a result struck thousands of 1955 Doubled Die cents.
After the 1955 Doubled Dies were produced, they were mixed with millions of regular circulation strike cents from that same year. However, Mint employees caught some of the 1955 Doubled Die cents before they went into circulation. The Mint then decided that it was just not worth the trouble of melting millions of cents to retrieve the approximately 20,000 Doubled Die cents that were accidentally produced.
1955 Doubled Die Cents in Circulation
In the following months, 1955 Doubled Die cents were finally turning up in circulation, including in cigarette packs which were being sold in vending machines. At that time, a pack of cigarettes would cost 23 cents each but the vending machines would only take a quarter and no other change. Therefore, the cigarette companies would need to place two cents inside each pack of cigarettes to be given back as change. Anyone who inserted a quarter in the vending machine would then receive a pack of cigarettes with two Lincoln cents inside a cellophane packaging. This cellophane packaging was then wrapped around the cigarette packs with the two Lincoln cents inside it, and this is where many of the 1955 Doubled Dies surfaced.
How Many 1955 Doubled Dies Exist
Since 1955 Doubled Dies were being found the same year in which they were released, many coins were pulled aside and preserved. Because of this, most coins exist in AU grades and higher. The original estimate of existing 1955 Doubled Die cents was anywhere from 20,000 to 24,000 coins. Nonetheless, many coins possibly got lost in circulation and the number of surviving examples may be more like 10,000 to 15,000 in all grades combined.
Finally, due to the high prices that the 1955 Doubled Die Lincoln cents command, there are many deceiving counterfeit coins out there in the market. One of the primary diagnostics of a genuine 1955 Doubled Die cent can be seen on the reverse of the coin. Since there was only one pair of dies used to create the 1955 Doubled Dies, all genuine examples should display vertical die polishing lines to the left of the letter T in ONE CENT. Therefore, authentication is strongly recommended for this variety.