A new collector in Georgia repeatedly found examples of a 1995-D doubled die cent and profited accordingly.
This coin is many thousands of times rarer than the relatively common 1995 Doubled Die #1 that even today can occasionally be found by those who search though pocket change or boxes of cents from the bank. The Denver issue Fiore found is designated by CONECA as DDO-003 and by John Wexler as WDDO-003 because it was the third doubled die variety found for the date and mint – though it is by far the strongest.
It is also listed in the Cherrypickers’ Guide To Rare Die Varieties by Bill Fivaz and the late J.T. Stanton as FS-103, where it is rated as a URS-5, which translates to “9-16” known (a rating that is no longer valid but suggestive of its rarity). Its doubling is as strong as that on the Philadelphia 1995 DDO-001 that has seen heavy promotion over the years since its discovery.
This coin exhibits strong doubling on IN GOD WE TRUST (strongest on TRUST), the date, and the Denver mintmark. This is the first strong Lincoln cent doubled die with a doubled mintmark, created via hubbing versus repunching.
Since 1990, the Philadelphia Mint includes the mintmark on the master tooling rather than adding it to the finished dies by hand via hand punching.
Fiore is a newcomer to the hobby. She first got interested in coins a few months ago on Feb. 20, 2018.
She says she got started due to a video she saw on YouTube and immediately went to Facebook and became a member of COIN OPP (the group that sponsored the YouTube video), where she quickly learned about finding errors and varieties in unsearched rolls and circulation change.
She then went to eBay and purchased four rolls each of 1992-D, 1994, 1995, and 1995-D cents. She opened them all and found nothing due to her lack of a magnifying glass.
She then investigated what kind of magnifier she needed and obtained it. She had gotten a book in early March that showed a picture of the 1995 doubled die and decided to look for it first, but found none. She still hadn’t heard of the 1995-D Doubled Die Obverse varieties but decided to check those rolls next.
She hit the jackpot.
She found seven examples of the strongest known for that date/mint.
She said it was as exciting as hitting the lottery! Most collectors would agree.
Moving forward, she eventually joined the Facebook groups “United States Error Coins” (of which I am an administrator) and my FB group, “Error-Variety News,” where she became quite active in “liking” and commenting on stories.
On Nov. 7, 2018, I was going through a 65-pound box of thousands of coin photographs that Stanton had sent me in February 2011 to use as I see fit. J.T. had just passed on, and I thought it fitting to scan and show some of his images.
I found pictures of the 1995-D Doubled Die and posted them on the Error-Variety News group. Shortly after, I got a message from Dilenia that she had found seven of them in March! I was flabbergasted!
I had not heard of a major find of that many pieces by one person in brilliant uncirculated condition for many years. She quickly followed up with images of one of the coins she photographed raw and photos of two that were graded, one by the Professional Coin Grading Service and the other by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
Apparently somebody had told her to send half of them to each service. They came back: one MS64 RD, four MS66 RD, and one MS66+ RD, though she did not indicate which services assigned which grades. She kept one coin raw for herself uncertified.
Selling prices of this variety are all across the board. Starting with Fiore’s sales, she got $950 for an NGC MS66+ RD and $600 for a PCGS-66, both in eBay sales, with the latter in a very recent sale there. She sold another MS66 RD privately for $750 and then lost two in the mail on the way to an auction firm in California.
In other sales records I could find, Heritage Auctions has sold a total of four specimens. The highest graded was an ANACS MS67 RD that had obviously gone bad in the holder, with many black carbon spots and obvious water damage to the bar code on the back of the holder. It sold for an amazing $240 for such an ugly coin on Jan. 7, 2018.
Others recent sales include a PCCS MS64 RD that sold for $387.75 and a PCGS AU-58 that sold for $114, both selling in May and April of last year, respectively. Another example going back to the Feb. 27-28 & March 2, 2014, American Numismatic Association National Money Show U.S. Coins Signature Auction in Atlanta sold as lot #7212 for a PCGS MS64 RD at $822.50. This lot was correctly labeled on the holder as FS-103 but was included in the auction under the title FS-101, so it will be hard to find unless you check under that designation.
Stack’s Bowers Galleries shows total sales of one specimen in PCGS MS64 RD. It sold in March of this year for $312.
The Cherrypickers’ Guide and my book, Strike It Rich With Pocket Change, assign a value of $500 for the coin in MS-65 and “Uncirculated,” respectively, with both sources noting the prices were for coins that are either brown or red-brown and that full red and higher grades for Lincoln cents in general will fetch higher prices.
The largest number of this variety ever found was 44 pieces by a New England searcher who inherited rolls of cents from his father. These rolls were marked as having come from a bank in New Hampshire. He had them graded by ANACS and eventually sold them off to dealers. Long-time error-variety coin dealer G.J. Lawson recounts buying 25 of the certified pieces from the finder about a dozen years ago in MS65 and MS66 and selling them off for $500 to $550, with the MS66 coins fetching the higher prices. He told me he felt that, in those grades, the MS66 RDs were $1,000 coins but that he had so many of both grades he had to price them low in order move them out fast enough to recover his investment. He said all 25 sold out in short order.
As mentioned earlier, Cherrypickers’ Guide has this coin rated as a URS-5, which means at that time they estimated “9-16” were known. Today, the numbers of certified coins are much higher but still very low. PCGS has graded 45, NGC seven, and ANACS 67 in all grades.
One must keep in mind that many coins reflected in these numbers may have been crossed over from one grading service to another due to the whims of new owners or those hoping to get a higher grade on resubmission. That suggests the number of graded pieces is still probably fewer than 100! Compare this to the over 34,000 of the 1995 Philadelphia Doubled Dies that have been graded by just PCGS, NGC, and ANACS and you can begin to see the rarity of the Denver issue.
The lesson here is that there are still rare and highly desirable varieties out there lurking in uncirculated rolls that were put away years ago and just need to be searched. Let us know what you find.