1898 $2 1/2 Liberty
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I was looking at a very sharply struck 1898 $2 1/2 Liberty. If I look from the base of the nose to the top of the forehead, there is, what looks like, a very thin line of metal between the main device and the flat surface of the coin. In that area alone, it looks as if the coin was double struck or the die slipped, etc.. What is this, and what causes it? Is it a normal? How does this effect the ultimate value of a coin within its grade?

 

This seems to vary by date (many don't have this) and I notice the same type of situation in some Morgan dollars. This is an MS-64 NGC graded coin.

 

Thank You

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This is known as strike doubling or mechanical doubling. Current theory holds one of the following explanations:

 

1) The die bounces back against the coin before retracting, causing a second, slightly mis-aligned and shallow strike.

 

2) The die shifts laterally at the moment of striking, dragging the raised image of the coin and leaving a sheared-off ghost image.

 

I believe #2 is more likely the cause of strike doubling, since it better explains to me what my eyes are seeing. Strike doubling is very common and carries no premium. It is seen more often on some coins than others: Buffalo Nickels from the teens (on the Indian's profile), Mercury Dimes of all years (mostly on the lower third of the obverse, such as the date and motto), Lincoln Cents from the late 1960s and early '70s (particularly S-Mint cents, which are frequently mistaken for doubled dies).

 

Remember, until very recently mintmarks were applied after the die was otherwise completed, so doubling on a mintmark before 1991 indicates strike doubling rather than die doubling.

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