The 1955 Double Die Cent is the most well known and popular of the Lincoln Wheat penny error coins. The 1955 error coin was released in numbers well above most other error coins. The estimated total of coins that slipped past U.S. Mint is around 24,000. The misalignment of a coin press created a doubled image, an effect easily seen with the naked eye or a magnifying glass. The 1955 Double Die Cent is one of the most worthwhile error coins to search for, because it is the statistically most likely error coin to find in lose change. Its a matter of odds, and the sheer number of coins yet to be found means that if you only look for one coin amongst the riffraff of your pocket, look for this one.
The double, or ghost, image is made during the striking of the coin. In a normal strike the first blow to the blank shapes the features of the surface of the coin. On the second blow the detail made clearer and more consistent. This process requires that no movement occur in relation between coin and striking element. When the double die coins were produced, the second blow was shifted slightly off-center, resulting in a clear second image. There is a similar effect created by the deterioration of the master die which is not nearly as prized or valuable, but also more common. The double die version can easily be identified, however, by its image duplication being heaviest along the outside details of the coin, around the lettering and date, but little around the bust or figure of Lincoln. The detail surface should be clearly doubled, or use a magnifying glass to make sure.
Coins like this survive in circulation because the difference between the valuable error coin and the regular mint issue is slight when most people just use pennies to count out change. There are some tips to improve your odds of finding error coins though, and the 1955 Double Die Cent is no exception. If you take care not to damage the coins, a gentle bath in warm water can loosen dirt and foreign matter obscuring old coin dates and mint marks. As all the 1955 error coins were released into circulation, and it is very unlikely that a ‘Mint State’ penny will be found in loose change. Don’t worry, even in rough condition, as long as the date and mint mark is legible, the coin will be worth a premium for collectors.
Collecting coins can be an rewarding venture, and also an investment for the future. Remember to store coins safely, and only handle the coins you mean to spend. Get coins graded for a small fee, and the resale increases greatly. An un-circulated, graded, 1955 Double Die Cent may be worth over $25,000. Even a heavily worn example would be a nice find, at around 300 dollars a pop!
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