High mintage figures often imply common coins, but also provide the opportunity for some highly collectable varieties!
Lyman L. Allen literally wrote the book on U.S. Philippine Coinage. Entitled "U.S./Philippine Coins," it is now in it's 7th edition. It is a guide book to the entire series and major die varieties as well as a price guide. Mr. Allen self published his book every other year to keep the prices and population reports relatively fresh. My earliest copy is an autographed 4th Edition (2004-2005) published in late 2003. I don't know exactly what year he published the first edition, but if I extrapolate, it would have been roughly 1998. Mr. Allen sold the rights to his book in 2010, and the bi-annual publication schedule was interrupted. The book was updated and edited by Tom Culhane and the 7th edition was finally released in 2012.
An important part of this book is the definition of the major die varieties and as you might imagine, they are identified by their ALLEN number. The early editions contain detailed descriptions and pictures of most of these varieties. Unfortunately, none of these pictures are present in the 7th edition. Hopefully they will be restored when the 8th edition is printed. Until then, a copy of both the 6th and 7th editions are necessary to properly identify die varieties.
Mr. Allen numbered every regular issue with a two part number. The major number identifies the denomination/design, while the minor number is a sequentially assigned integer representing the date. Varieties for a date are identified by one or more trailing letters. For example, the 1908-S One Centavo is also known as ALLEN-2.06, and the 1908-S/S variety is identified as ALLEN-2.06a.
Both PCGS and NGC recognize some, but not all of the 64 varieties currently listed in the 7th edition. Both services now identify the variety on their label using the ALLEN number. NGC includes this service as part of their "Variety Plus" program. The list of varieties recognized by NGC can be found at: ( http://www.ngccoin.com/VPSubCategory.aspx?subid=67&category=american-overseas-territories&cointype=philippines-under-u.s.-sovereignty ). PCGS changed their policy recently, and now recognizes nearly all of the current Allen varieties. They've even created a complete registry set which includes the varieties at ( http://www.pcgs.com/SetRegistry/SetComposition.aspx?c=5099 ).
I have nearly all of the Allen varieties, but many are in low grades and don't warrant submission to NGC or PCGS. I do however have 13 certified varieties which I've placed into a custom set ( http://coins.www.collectors-society.com/wcm/CoinCustomSetView.aspx?s=12256 ).
The picture below is of my complete set of certified ALLEN-9.05, 1945-D 10 Centavo varieties. With 137,208,000 minted by the US Mint in Denver, it's not surprising that there are a number of die varieties. Pictured are:
9.05 - Normal date
9.05a - Repunched mint mark D/D Even within this variety, at least 4 sub-types exist with various orientations of the initial and secondary mint mark punches. Over the years, I have acquired examples of North-South (near), South-North (far), South-North (near), and Northwest-Southeast orientations. This particular coin is a toned gem with a South-North (far) orientation doubled mint mark. The toning is a subtle and even combination of electric blue with orange and gold highlights. The toning is much more dramatic than the scanned images can convey.
9.05b - Doubled Die Obverse type 1. This variety is easily identified by the dramatic doubling of "UNITED", "STATES", all four digits of the date, and the bottom tip of the shield. This particular coin was graded before NGC began placing the Allen number on the label. It is one of the three finest known, and is currently the only uncirculated specimen graded by NGC. (A second coin, which was graded later, is identified as ALLEN-9.05b on the label and is included in my custom set.)
9.05c - Doubled Die Obverse type 2. This doubled die variety is not nearly as dramatic as 9.05b, but can still be identified with minimal magnification. There is a very slight doubling of "45" in the date, doubling of all of the letters in "UNITED", doubling of the letters "STAT" in STATES, and slight doubling of the letters "MER" in AMERICA. This particular coin exhibits a typical soft strike although the dies were not heavily eroded due to extended use that is typical of the 1945 D issue. This coin is currently the only specimen to have been graded by either NGC or PCGS.
In addition to the three varieties that have been cataloged, there is at least one other significant obverse doubled die variety in which the the text "Commonwealth of the Philippines" is noticeably doubled.
I hope to continue growing my set of certified Allen varieties as time and resources (i.e. money) permit.
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