Counterfeit Detection: Altered 1955 Doubled Die Obverse Cent

Posted on 8/13/2019

An attempt to create the illusion of a famous variety was sorely lacking in subtlety.

NGC graders recently saw a peculiar alteration on a 1955 Lincoln Wheat Cent. As most US collectors know, the 1955 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent is one the most famous varieties in all of numismatics. The extreme doubling seen on the reverse is unparalleled on any other US coin.

Of course, this extreme doubling has made the 1955 DDO a must-have for many collectors, making it a very expensive coin. For example, the genuine example pictured here, which graded NGC MS 63 BN, is worth around $2,000.

Genuine 1955 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent.
Click images to enlarge.

As you can see from the photos above, a genuine 1955 DDO Lincoln Cent has an extremely wide doubling evident on all text on the obverse. Because the doubling was in the die (as opposed to as one-off double struck coin) every example will show the same doubling.

Counterfeit 1955 Doubled Die Obverse Lincoln Cent.
Click images to enlarge.

As you can see, the coin above looks very different from the genuine 1955 DDO. It appears as if a counterfeiter, instead of faking a whole die, decided they could just create a stamp that has the look of doubling, and stamp it over the existing date and mintmark. This created odd dark, depressed areas around the lettering and it doesn’t look at all like a genuine example. Also note that the counterfeiter didn’t even bother to attempt to replicate the doubling on IN GOD WE TRUST.

Close-up of Altered 1955 DDO Lincoln Cent.
Click image to enlarge.

When looking closer at this coin, it is even more obvious that the piece is altered. Note the original L in LIBERTY still clearly visible near the rim of the coin. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll notice that you can read almost all of the original letters in LIBERTY. They are still visible on the tops of the counterfeiter’s letters.

If you have what you believe to be a genuine 1955 DDO Lincoln Cent, one of the best things to looks for is a die marker on the reverse that is found on all examples in high enough grade. There are two thin, horizontal lines emerging from the left side of the crossbar of the T in CENTS. These are the marker for the only reverse die paired with the doubled obverse die.

Two parallel vertical die scratches help identify this as a genuine 1955 DDO Lincoln Cent.
Click image to enlarge.

Due to the popularity and rarity of this piece, it is important to be very confident in your authentication skills before buying a raw example. It is far wiser to purchase a coin already graded by NGC, which is of course guaranteed to be authentic.

Did you know? NGC has created a comprehensive Counterfeit Detection resource to help collectors and dealers identify counterfeit and altered coins. Visit

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