Double-Die or Doubled-Die errors occur when a die moves between strikes by the hub. This means the second strike is slightly off-kilter, and this doubling error is then copied onto all coins struck by that die. They might make hundreds or even thousands before the mistake is fixed, and the 1955 DDO is pretty famous. So let’s dig into the 1955 Double Die Penny Value.
1955 Double Die Penny Value Chart
|Mint Mark||Good G 4||Fine
|Uncirculated MS 60||Low Mint State
|Mid Mint State MS 65|
|1955 (P) No Mint Mark FS-101 Double Die Penny Value||$784||$1,713||$2,278||$2,489||$4,261||$17,057||$52,650|
|1955 (P) No Mint Mark FS-102 Double Die Penny Value||–||–||–||–||$100||$175||$450|
|1955-D Double Die Penny Value||–||–||–||$55||–||$100||$200|
History of the 1955 Double Die Penny
Augustus Saint-Gaudens is generally associated with the eagle and double eagle coins. But did you know he was initially hired to work on the penny? As a well-known artist and close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, he was the first choice for the coin beautification project that began in 1904. The President wanted him to redesign the penny and gold coins.
His brief was to produce five new coins, namely the copper 1c and the gold $2.50, $5, $10, and $20. Oddly, the sketches that ended up on the $10 and $20 were intended for the penny, but they couldn’t be used because they both had eagles. By American law, eagles can only be used on coin denominations larger than the dime i.e. the quarter, half dollar, dollar, etc.
When Saint-Gaudens died of cancer in 1907 without completing this task, his assistant took over and designed the Lincoln Cent. His name was Victor David Brenner. As directed by the mint, his coin had Abraham Lincoln on the front and two wheat stalks on the back, so it was known as the Wheat Penny or the Wheat Cent. This coin was minted from 1909 to 1958.
The Final Years of Wheat Cents
In 1959, the back was changed to celebrate 150 years since Lincoln’s birth. The new tails side showed the Lincoln Memorial building as depicted by Frank Gasparro when he was still the assistant mint engraver. He was later promoted to Chief Mint Engraver. But let’s go back a few years to 1955. Generally speaking, mint workers check random coins for mint errors.
These flawed coins will usually be picked out and melted down to avoid creating rarities that may be hoarded. But only a few coins are inspected from every batch, so error coins often slip through. In the case of the 1955 Double Die Penny, workers spotted a few and reported them. But the mint decided it wasn’t worth recalling the coin so they were mixed into bags.
Although the error wasn’t widely known for a few years, it was listed as FS-101 and FS-102, meaning it’s an official First Strike error. These are mint mistakes discovered within the first 30 days of the coin’s original release. FS-101 is instantly recognizable but FS-102 is subtle and you need a coin microscope or jeweler’s loupe to spot it, so keep an eye out just in case!
Features of the 1955 Double Die Penny
As you study the 1955 Double Die Penny, particularly if you’re new to the coin world, you may not understand all the technical terms, so let’s start by defining the primary jargon. Coins are struck on blank discs called planchets, and striking is the process of hitting metal blanks to imprint the design. Coins start as hubs which make dies and later strike planchets.
The front or heads side of a coin is called the obverse and the back or tails side is called the reverse. The thin sides are called edges and the raised border is called the rim or collar. It keeps the coin round, ensuring it has a consistent diameter and thickness. The words on a coin are mottos or legends and the images are devices. The backdrop is known as the field.
The Obverse of the 1955 Double Die Penny
The obverse (heads side) of the 1955 Double Die Penny shows a profile of Abraham Lincoln facing right. By 1955, the VDB controversy was long resolved, so the designer’s initials are on Lincoln’s shoulder cut-off. The motto In God We Trust is above his head. The legend Liberty is on the left, behind his back. The mint date and mint mark are on the right, near his chest.
The Reverse of the 1955 Double Die Penny
The reverse (tails side) of the 1955 Double Die Penny features two ears of durum wheat. They lie near the sides of the coin, framing the wording on the coin. E Pluribus Unum is between the top tips of the wheat with two dots flanking Pluribus. It’s followed by the denomination, One Cent, occupying the upper half of the coin. That’s followed by United States of America.
Other Features of the 1955 Double Die Penny
The 1955 Double Die Penny is a Wheat Cent, so it’s 95% copper and 5% zinc or tin. On some coins, both these metals are used. The penny is 19.05mm in diameter (0.75 inches) and has a smooth edge. It weighs 3.11g and since it’s a copper coin, it has color grades, namely RD for red, RB for reddish-brown, or BN for brown. Red coins are the most valuable and expensive.
Related Post: 16 Most Valuable Wheat Penny Errors In Circulation
1955 Double Die Penny Value Guide
The 1955 Double Die Penny is a mint error variety that shows doubling on the obverse. It’s unclear how many were minted, but it’s one of the best-known and most expensive mint errors. When people mention the 1955 Penny DDO, they usually mean the Philadelphia coin, since it had no mint mark. But there’s a lesser-known DDO on the 1955-D, and we’ll discuss that too.
As we said before, the 1955 Double Die Penny has two varieties, namely FS-101 and FS-102. The FS-101 fetches far better prices so it’s harder to find one. But the FS-102 can still resell for a thousand dollars in high mint states, so don’t dismiss it. The difference is the position of the doubling. FS-101 shows on the words and numbers while FS-102 only shows on the date.
Neither of these 1955 doubled-die errors appeared on proof coins, so we’re only going to look at circulation coins, also known as regular strikes or business strikes. These are coins made for everyday use, as opposed to collector’s coins like proofs or special strikes. In theory, some proof-like 1955 Penny DDOs might exist, but none have been discovered or graded just yet.
1955 (P) No Mint Mark Double Die Penny Value (FS-101)
The first 1955 Double Die variety is far more blatant. You can spot doubling on the date, motto, and legend, with a very clear spread. And since it’s so obvious, it’s way more valuable. Allegedly, the working die and working hub were misaligned. Between 20,000 and 25,000 of these dramatic DDOs were minted. The backstory gets even better, and it involves nicotine!
Pennies were commonly used in vending machines, where cigarettes were 23 cents. But the slot could only accept quarters (25c). Cigarette companies pre-emptively sealed two pennies into every vending machine pack. And many of these cellophane-wrapped cents were DDOs! The coin gets faked a lot though, so have it professionally graded to guarantee authenticity.
In September 2016, an MS 66 BN sold for $30,550, and with only one MS 66 BN graded, its price estimate in 2023 is $30,500. Meanwhile, an MS 65 RB was $32,400 in March 2020, but by November, that was down to $16,800. With 11 coins graded, the estimate for 2023 is $11,000. But the highest known coin, an NGC-graded MS 66, was $17,625 in February 2004.
As for red coins, PCGS estimates the value of an MS 65 at $52,650 in 2023, and a sample sold for $26,400 in January 2019. Half a step up, an MS 65+ RD sold for $114,000 in March 2018. PCGS has only graded two and places their 2023 value at $288,000. Meanwhile, NGC has graded a few MS 66 coins. The most recent recorded sale was $50,019 in August 2006.
1955 (P) No Mint Mark Double Die Penny Value (FS-102)
The Philadelphia Mint produced 33,058,000 Wheat Pennies in 1955. None of them had mint marks and as we just said, there’s no record of how many FS-102s were struck that year. This coin is sometimes called the Poor Man’s DDO because it was caused by a deteriorated die rather than a true die-doubling or hub-doubling error, so it doesn’t sell as high as the FS-101.
In February 2019, an MS 62 BN was $1,875 and an AU 53 RB was $1,250 on eBay. A few years earlier, an NGC-graded MS 62 BN was just $112 in August 2012 and $67 in September 2004. But an MS 64 RB was $168 in June 2021. In MS 60 RD, the Poor Man’s Doubled Die is estimated at $100 in 2023. PCGS has graded six MS 63 RD coins, estimated at $135 in 2023.
And in March 2019, an NGC-graded MS 64 RD was $1,200. The same grade was $170 for a PCGS coin in October 2022. One step up, an MS 65 was $660 in February 2022, up from $85 in May 2017. With almost 40 graded, their 2023 value is $200. The highest known grade for the FS-102 is an MS 66. PCGS has received four and estimates their value at $1,000 in 2023.
1955-D Double Die Penny Value
In 1955, the Denver Mint made 563,257,500 Wheat Pennies with the D Mint Mark. Again, the number of doubled-die Denver Pennies are unknown. It’s not as valuable as the 1955 (P) DDO though. In July 2013, an AU 58 BN was $119, down to $30 by November. In 2014, an MS 64 RD was $165 in May, down to $83 by November. MS 65 RD was $253 in September.
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1955 Double Die Penny Errors
Mint mistakes can increase the value of a coin, and as we said earlier, the double-die or doubled-die is an error variety in itself. On Lincoln Cents, it’s sometimes referred to as a doubled-eye (pun intended) or doubled-ear, because you can see doubling on the eye and/or ear of the portrait. The 1955 (P) double die comes in two main varieties: FS-101 and FS-102.
1955 (P) Double Die Penny FS-101 Error
The 1955 FS-101 DDO Penny is what most people have in mind when they talk about the 1955 Double Die Penny. You can see a very distinct left-right or east-west spread on Liberty, In God We Trust, and 1955, with the earlier impression of the date being slightly lower. This mint mistake sells for $1,300 in XF 40; $3,500 in MS 63 BN; and $35,000 in MS 65 RD.
1955 (P) Double Die Penny FS-102 Error
As we mentioned before, the FS-102 Error is occasionally referred to as the Poor Man’s Double Die and it’s the one you’re most likely to find in coin rolls so don’t skip past it! These were the closing years of the 1955 Wheat Cent so dies were stretching longer. An older die is probably what caused this error. It’s worth $50 in AU 55; $175 in MS 63; and $450 in MS 65.
1955 (P) Double Die Glue Residue + Whizz Damage
Since the 1955 DDO is already a valuable mint error, additional flaws are bonuses, even in poor condition! These two damaged coins are both graded AU Details, which means they would be AU 50, AU 53, AU 55, or AU 58 if they were flawless. One coin has glue damage and the other has a whizz error. But due to their DDOs, they still sold for $660 and $1,200.
1955-D Double Die Penny Error
The 1955 Denver Penny has several notable errors including several RPM varieties. That means re-punched mint mark, and one of them is horizontal! But right now, we’re looking at the Denver DDO. It’s far more subtle than the Philadelphia one so you need a jeweler’s loupe or coin microscope to spot it. It’s worth $55 in AU 50; $100 in MS 63; and $200 in MS 65.
FAQs About the 1955 Double Die Penny
How Can You Tell if a 1955 Penny is a Double Die?
Check the coin with a coin microscope or a jeweler’s loupe. 1955 Double Die Pennies will generally show doubling on the date, the legend Liberty, and the motto In God We Trust.
Why is the 1955 Penny Worth So Much?
The 1955 Penny FS-101 DDO is worth a lot because the doubling error is so visible that even coin-collecting newbies can spot it. This creates demand for the coin and people pay a lot to get one! Due to this interest, FS-102 DDOs aka the Poor Man’s Double Die are targeted too.
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