Rewarding Proof Set Find: 1990 S Doubled Die Obverse Jefferson Nickel

Posted on 9/11/2008

This month’s Modern coin is one of the most noteworthy of the 1990 Proof Set, sure to capture the attention of any eagle-eyed variety hunter.

Modern coin variety hunters love nothing more than to discover a sought-after rarity in an original US Mint packaged set. For that reason, one of the most compelling sets around is the 1990 Proof Set. Three different noteworthy varieties can be found within it.

First the hunter will look at the Lincoln Cent to make sure it has a mintmark. The 1990
“No S” Lincoln Cent, which lacks the “S” mintmark, is a very rare coin among advanced collectors. All Proof Lincoln Cents issued since 1968 were made at San Francisco and have an S mintmark, except in the case of this scarce variety. Find a 1990 Proof Cent without a mintmark, and you’ve won a small lottery.

But the variety hunter doesn’t stop there. Next, he’ll examine the quarter to look for a doubled obverse die. A doubled die is a type of coin variety. It occurs when the die that strikes a coin receives a duplicate impression of the coin’s design details during manufacture. All the coins struck from this doubled die will show doubling in the same exact way, and these distinct diagnostic features are used to identify the variety. When doubling occurs on the obverse of a coin, the coin is referred to as a doubled die obverse (abbreviated DDO).

The 1990 S DDO Quarter has a boldly doubled mintmark, and shows clear separation on the designer’s initials and the date. But it’s also very scarce. NGC has only certified three examples to date.

But this isn’t the only DDO to be found. In fact, the 1990 Proof Set offers one more opportunity for the eagle-eyed variety hunter. A 1990 S Nickel with doubled die obverse can also be found. This coin, the 1990 S Doubled Die Obverse Jefferson Nickel, VP-001, is our Modern Coin of the Month.

According to the online VarietyPlus™ guide, the diagnostics of the 1990 S DDO Nickel are as follows: “Moderate doubling on IN GOD WE TRUST to east. Stronger doubling is evident on designer’s initials to northwest, showing near complete separation. Light doubling on portrait, most readily visible on Jefferson’s top eyelid.” The online VarietyPlus catalog also includes six images to aid proper identification.

VarietyPlus coin details:
[Dealers, Collectors Society or FREE Pass Key Account Required]

While first reported to CONECA by collector Charles Clark III more than a decade ago, submissions of the 1990 S DDO Nickel have only trickled in. It is designated by CONECA as DDO-001, and VP-001 in VarietyPlus. To date, NGC has certified just nine examples in all grades, but certainly many more are waiting to be discovered in original proof sets.

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