Formerly known 1943-S Double Die Cent discovered to be outdated

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By Tom DeLorey ……

About 45 years ago, collector Del Romines came to my office at World Currency “Collectors Clearinghouse” with two well-worn 1943-P nickels that he thought was 1943/2-P overdate. I thought he might be right, so I took pictures of his coins, posted them, and asked if anyone had a higher quality specimen that could verify the overdate.

A week later, a member of my local club corner, Bern Nagangast, selected a pointed BU specimen at a coin show, and the 1943/42-P Jefferson nickel was confirmed. At the time, people were amazed that it took almost 35 years for the overdate to be noticed.

Image 1: The 1943/1942-S Lincoln cent, FS-101, in early die condition with doubling below the bottom of the 4 post. Photo courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Company’s Variety Plus Archive. Used with permission.

Now back to the present. About a month ago, longtime collector James Elliot contacted me via the Internet and told me that another collector in the field of collecting die varieties, Pierre Applerecommended that he contact me about a 1943-S cent he had with a known Doubled Die Obverse which he thought was also a 1943/2-S Nowadays. As with Del Romines and his 1943/42-P nickels, I think he’s right, and my fellow variety specialists Bill Fivaz, John Wexlerand James Wiles agree with me, as pointed out Lincoln penny specialist and author David Lange. In our unanimous opinion, the 1943/1942-S cent is a real overdate!

Although it is a well-known matrix variety, and has been for many years, it has only ever been recognized for its matrix doubling. It is currently listed as such in the Cherry Pickers Guide by Bill Fivaz and the late JT Stanton as a variety FS-101 (019.5) among the 1943-S cents. The number (019.5) is an obsolete reference number from previous editions of the CPG, which is noted because it can be found on older TPG tiles.

Formerly known 1943-S Double Die Cent discovered to be outdated
The Lincoln Hundred 1943/1942-S, FS-101. Since all four digits have been replaced, we use the entire 1942 as the subdate. Photo courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Company and David Lange. Used with permission.
Formerly known 1943-S Double Die Cent discovered to be outdated
Image 3: The 1943/1942-S Lincoln cent, FS-101, with arrows outlining the remains of 2. Photo courtesy of Dr. James Wiles. Used with permission.

The misalignment of the designs between the hub dated 1942 and the hub dated 1943 rotates around a point on the left edge of the obverse. Because of this swing, the coin only shows a trivial doubling on the word LIBERTY near the pivot point, but a fairly strong doubling almost due north and south at the base of the 1. There is a similar doubling under the upper curve of the 9 and along the right side of the leg of the 9.

Image 4: Complete obverse of the cent 1943/42-S. Photo courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Company and David Lange. Used with permission.

There is additional metal under the sharp left corner of the 4 which scales to the doubling of the 1 and the 9. Fairly rare early state coins will also show a similar doubling based on the 4, but this feature was apparently either worn or polished from the die early in its die life.

Elliott gets credit for first suggesting that the doubled die was in fact an outdated die, since he posed the question in July 2020 in a private online forum, “Lincoln Cent Errors and Varieties Only”, on Facebook. As he pointed out, “the extra metal to the top right of the 3 matches a 2”.

He provided an overlay to show how an underlying 2 could explain this extra metal. As my colleagues and I have confirmed, this extra metal does not line up with any part of the 3 if the entire 1943 date is doubled North-South, similar to the 1 and the 9 and the 4 are doubled.

Formerly known 1943-S Double Die Cent discovered to be outdated
Image 5: Photo overlay of a normal date of 1943 positioned slightly north of a normal date of 1942, created by Dr. James Wiles. Used with permission.

As seen in the attached overlay of a 1943 date and a 1942 date created by variety specialist Dr. James Wiles, owner of the Variety Vista website, the high arched curve of the top right of a 2 falls into the field to the right of the top of the 3. Study the overdate images and see that the raised drop of metal to the right of the top of the 3 does can line up with any part of a 3 that is doubled only North and South.

There is additional metal inside the top of the 3 that matches the upper left curve of the 2, although its similarity to the upper left curve of the 3 should be acknowledged. However, it seems to match the angle of the upper left curve of the 2 more than that of the 3. There is additional metal under the center “tooth” of the 3 which matches the lower left curve of the 2, above the base of 2 (which is not present).

If you’re wondering why there’s nothing else inside the bottom of the 3, look at the normal date images of 1942 and 1943 and see that the 2 is rather short, about the same height as the 4, while the 3 is much taller, the same height as the 9. Only a 3 could be there if the 3 was doubled, and there is nothing.

Why is the base of 2 missing and the upper right curve of 2 weak? This is a function of the hubbing process. Back in the day, blank dies were polished to a very shallow taper at the end to help the positive steel hub turn the negative steel die more efficiently. As the hub came into contact with the die blank, the center of the design formed first, then expanded outward as the hub sank deeper and deeper in the matrix.

Eventually, the die hardened from all that pressure, and so the hub stopped entering the tapered die blank before the design impression had reached the edge of the die. The matrix now had to be annealed or heated in a furnace to a certain temperature and left to cool slowly overnight. It softened the steel of the matrix. The next business day it was put back under a design hub for another print. Sometimes this process had to be repeated more than once, depending on the diameter and relief of the design, the skill of the annealing, the skill of the hubber, etc.

If the second (or third) hub print was from another hub with a different date, the result should be an overdate “IF” the earlier date was sufficiently formed in the previous print(s). Double-date hubing could have occurred near the end of any calendar year when the Mint Engraving Department was still producing dies for current use from the current year’s hub while simultaneously producing dies from the next year’s hub in order to have a few ready for use on January 2.

The same thing happened with the 1909/8 gold double eaglethe 1918/7-D nickelthe Quarter 1918/7-Sthe 1942/41-P&D Dimes, and nickel 1943/42-P. It has been speculated that it is no coincidence that six of the seven modern overdates occurred during wartime, when the Mint would be less inclined to remove a clumsy but perfectly usable die. It is also possible that one or more of the qualified hubbers served his country in the military.

Images 6 & 7: Close-ups of dates on normal 1942 and 1943 pennies. Photos courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Company and David Lange. Used with permission.

On this particular die, the outer parts of the design, such as IN GOD WE TRUST, were not formed by the first printing, and therefore could not be doubled by the second printing of the hub. In the word LIBERTY, the BERTY shows very trivial doubling (being close to the pivot point), while the LI shows no doubling at all because they did not exist before the second hubbing. The upper straight curve of the 2 was incompletely formed by the first hub, while the flat base of the 2 was not formed because it sits closer to the edge.

Something similar can be seen on the 1943/42-P nickel, on which the top of the date is closest to the edge. It shows a solid base of the 2 from the original hubbing, but not the middle or top of the 2. The result was a 3 over a partial 2. In contrast, if only the bases of LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST were formed by the 1942 hub printing, the letters were simply finished normally by the subsequent 1943 printing.

Images 8 and 9: Full obverse of 1942 and 1943 normal cents. Photos courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Company and David Lange. Used with permission.

Several specimens of the 1943/1942-S cent were examined. Only the early die states show a doubling at the bottom of the 4’s amount. The middle to late die states show strong vertical lines of die polish, as might have been caused by using an emery stick to clean the matrix, in the field above the date.

The matrix variety will continue to be listed in the Cherry Pickers Guide as FS-101, although a new description of it is forthcoming. The description in the Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC) Variety More the archives will also be modified.

Image 10: Close up of LIBERTY on the 1943/1942-S Lincoln cent, showing very minimal splitting on the BERTY as this area was so close to the pivot point. Photo courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Company’s Variety Plus Archive. Used with permission.

I want to thank James Elliott for having the wisdom to look at “what everyone knows to be so” and asking questions. I would also like to thank Bill Fivaz, David Lange, John Wexler, and Dr. James Wiles for their valuable contributions in adding yet another surdate to the canon of American matrix varieties. To those of you who were surprised when I released the 1943/42-P nickel some 35 years after it was first struck, all I can say 79 years after the 1943/1942-S was first struck, c is: ‘KEEP LOOKING!!! ”

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