Handling Coins and Caring for Your Coin Collection

handling coins

CARING FOR YOUR COINS It is essential to keep your collections pristine. Proper handling and care is a big part of this, here are some ways to improve this. Handling: Coins should be held by their edges between thumb and forefinger. This will protect coin surfaces and designs from fingerprints and the natural oils in … Read more

Wide AM and Close AM Lincoln Varieties

wide-am-vs-close-am-lincoln-memorial-cent error coins

Wide AM and Close AM Lincoln Varieties Lincoln cent varieties.

So, what exactly is a Wide AM and Close AM Cent?
The terms Close AM and Wide AM refer to the spacing between the letters ‘A’ and ‘M’ in “America” on the reverse of the Lincoln Memorial Cent. The terms generally refer to the different die varieties of 1992, 1998, 1999 and 2000. From its introduction in 1959 through 1992, all Lincoln Memorial Cents including both business and proof strikes were intended to have the Wide AM reverse. In 1993 the mint changed to the Close AM reverse for both its business and proof strikes. Then in 1994 the mint changed once more and began to produce all business strikes with Close AMs, while using the Wide AMs on all proofs, until the coins last year of production in 2008.


So, what are the varieties?
The first and rarest of the varieties is the 1992 and 1992D Close AM. It appears that the mint used the reverse die intended for the 1993 cent on an unknown but limited number of 1992 cents at both the Philadelphia and Denver mint.  As of the time of this writing, there are only three known examples from the Philadelphia mint and less than 15 from Denver. A 1992D Close AM PCGS AU58 recently fetched $3,550 here on eBay.

The next rarest is the 1998S and 1999S Proof Strike Close AM variety. The 1998 being the rarer of the two, generally selling in the $300 range, and the 1999S around $100.

The third and final variety is the 1998, 1999, and 2000 Wide AM, with the 1999 being the rarest, then 1998, and finally the 2000. Although the least valuable in this article, they may be the most exciting as it can generally be found in circulation. The 2013 Redbook values the 1999 at $500, 1998 at $25, and 2000 at $20. I have personally found the 1998 Wide AM in pocket change.

So, How do I tell them apart?
The simplest and most obvious way to tell the two apart is to first look at a known Wide AM (1959-1991), and compare it with a known Close AM (1993-1997; 2001-2008) with a jewelers loop or magnifying glass. A Close AM should appear to either be touching or have just enough space between the letters for a piece of paper to slide between them. The  letters of the Wide AM variety will look separated and like a piece of paper will have a lot of wiggle room if slid between. After examining under a magnifying glass enough times, your eye will become accustomed to the difference, and you should be able to tell which is which with the naked eye.

The other way to tell them apart is to look at the distance between the initials “FG” and the base of the Lincoln Memorial. The Close AM variety will have wide initials, whereas the Wide AM variety will have close initials. Just remember the opposite will be true for the initials and the AM. I personally find this method unnecessary and more difficult than the first.

Example of Wide AM (top) and Close AM (bottom)

Image Courtesy of NGC

Notable Mention:
In January 2009, Billy Crawford author of Die Variety News, a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to the various die varieties of Lincoln cents and other US coins, reported the discovery of a unique 1996 Wide AM variety Lincoln Cent. The coin was reported to have a 50 degree rotational die error reverse and be of the Wide AM variety. It was said to have been stolen from him along with other coins in a robbery outside of a coin show a short time later. Its existence was never authenticated by a third party grading service, and its current whereabouts is unknown.

Wide AM vs Close AM Lincoln Varieties

Where to Sell Coins – A Guide to Making Money From Your Money

where to sell coins

Where to Sell Your Coins First things first, if you haven’t glanced at our Beginner’s Guide To Coin Collecting – You MAY want too. Otherwise, read on good friend! Secondly, DO NOT Clean Your Coins! Cleaning them automatically makes them worth less. A coin with a few small dings that has not been cleaned is worth … Read more

Rare Double Die Pennies – 2000 d Doubled Die Reverse

Rare Double Die || 2000 d Doubled Die Reverse WDDR-001

The Best of Variety and Error – featuring rare double die pennies

Viewer submission piece.


rare double die

1995 Double Die Obverse Lincoln Cent

Double die obverse is a term in numismatics used to refer to doubling in the design elements of a coin.

Doubled dies can appear as an outline of the design or in extreme cases, having legends and dates appear twice in an overlapping fashion.



1971 Double Die Obverse

double die obverse

1971 Double Die Obverse

Basic information and images on the 1971 double die obverse Lincoln memorial cent.


20 Lincoln Cent Doubled Dies You Should Know About

Doubled die
is a term in numismatics used to refer to doubling in the design elements of a coin. Doubled dies can appear as an outline of the design or in extreme cases, having legends and dates appear twice in an overlapping fashion.

Doubled die error coins can fetch significant prices when they are noticeable to the naked eye or occur in a popular coin series. One example of this is the 1955 doubled die Lincoln Wheat cent.

Note that the proper terminology for this occurrence includes the letter ‘d’ at the end of the first word, hence “doubled die”. The term “double die” without the first word ending in ‘d’ is not proper numismatic terminology.


Rare example:

The 1958 Class 1 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln cent is truly an esoteric rarity. Indeed, there are many members of our numismatic fraternity who are not even aware of its existence. There are only a very few individuals who have been fortunate enough to view such an error coin or have been privileged enough to actually own one. It was initially introduced in the January, 1966 Coin World’s Clearinghouse section wherein an error collector, who was residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sent in a photo of one for publication. The doubling on the letters of the 1958 DDO cent is every bit as dramatic as its more famous counterpart, the Class 1 1969-S Doubled Die Obverse. There are, however, a couple of distinct differences between the two coins. Whereas the doubling on the latter coin appears in a clockwise direction, the 1958 DDO exhibits counter-clockwise doubling. There is also far less doubling on the date of the 1958 DDO in comparison to the 1969-S DDO.

Noted error specialist, Del Romines, once claimed to have seen THREE examples of the 1958 DDO, supposedly within a radius of fifty miles in Philadelphia. Thus far, only two have been officially confirmed, and they belonged to a collector (who will remain anonymous). He stated to me (in writing), that he had discovered the two of them, around 1960, in a Mint sewn bag, and he later received correspondence from a Dr. Hunter of the Mint, the latter confirming that the coin he had been sent to authenticate, was genuine. I was very humbled when having the good opportunity to procure one of the coins from the discoverer in 1995. Since neither PCGS nor NGC recognized the 1958 DDO at that particular time, I ended up submitting it to ANACS for authentication and grading. Subsequently, the coin was deemed genuine by then ANACS’ Michael Fahey, and it was attributed a numerical grade of MS-64 RD. Once certified, I immediately sold it to one of my clients for $25,025.00 on July 16, 1996. Four years later (in 2000), I bought the coin back from my client, and I had it crossed over by PCGS (who now recognized it), and it likewise graded MS-64 RD. After offering it in one of my Coin World ads, a buyer contacted me and we negotiated on a final, record shattering sale price of $57,500.00, on September 5, 2000! That same buyer confided in me several years ago, that he had since sold the coin to another collector for “over $100,000.00!”

Meanwhile, the original discoverer of the two 1958 Doubled Die’s, was highly pressured to liquidate his other remaining coin which PCGS eventually graded MS-65 RD. A prominent New York City collector (who had been made aware of the coin), confided in me that he was going to low-ball the owner with an offer of $70,000.00 which I felt was highly unrealistic. I was offered $5,000.00 to remain silent regarding the unscrupulous offer but since I have never run my business in an unethical way…I DIDN’T! When the owner phoned me to reveal the price he had been offered, I quietly informed him to up the price to over $100,000.00 and the buyer then ended up paying the owner’s price.

The alleged third piece has never been verified but my personal opinion is that not only may it exist, but there is a favorable chance that it may even be a bit more superior to the previously sold MS-65 RD coin. In other words, it might very well be considered on the higher end of the spectrum for an MS-65 RD grade. I say this because the original owner initially hinted certain information to me which at a later date, was substantiated to have been exaggerated in order to throw others off track from hounding him in reference to a possible third example of the coin.

Regardless of the enigma surrounding the circumstances which led to the production of the 1958 DDO Lincoln cents, or how many were actually produced, it is a coin that is uniquely elusive and extremely rare. There will always be a yearning to acquire one, in order to complete the collection of that breed of aficionado who demands the ultimate coin in order to fanatically extol his or her bragging rights!