Counterfeit Detection: 1955 Doubled-Die Obverse Cent

Posted on 9/26/2020

This off-center coin proved too good to be true.

By Numismatic Guaranty Corporation®

Mint errors and varieties are very popular in the numismatic community. To find both on one coin is exceptionally rare, and examples command a large premium. When the variety is the “King of Doubled Dies,” that premium skyrockets even higher.

Recently, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) graders encountered this 1955 doubled-die obverse Lincoln cent.

Counterfeit Off-Center 1955 DDO Lincoln Cent.
Click images to enlarge.

As you can see from the photos, this coin is clearly struck off-center and has the telltale doubling for which this variety is known. It also appears to be slightly worn, as if it saw some time in circulation. Unfortunately, the coin is not genuine and the supposed wear has been artificially applied to a modern replica of the fabled rarity.

Genuine 1955 DDO Lincoln Cent
Click images to enlarge.

When compared to a genuine example like, numerous issues with the fake become apparent. Not only are the details mushy and the date slanted, but the counterfeiter also utilized the wrong reverse die. Note the prominent VDB at the bottom of the reverse. These initials stand for Victor David Brenner, the designer of the Lincoln Cent. His initials only appear in this location on 1909-dated examples. It is likely that this same reverse die has been used to strike counterfeit 1909-S VDB Lincolns.

Close-up of the V.D.B. initials at the bottom of the reverse of the counterfeit.
Click image to enlarge.

The counterfeit has the correct weight of 3.1g. However, after it was analyzed using an X-ray fluorescent scanner, NGC graders determined it was actually struck in 100-percent pure copper. A genuine example comprises 95-percent copper, 2.5-percent tin and 2.5-percent zinc.

Whenever you are looking to purchase a coin (especially a key date or variety), it is essential to closely examine the piece and compare it to genuine examples. In this case, an experienced numismatist would immediately be suspicious of such a rare Lincoln cent, especially one with notably odd surfaces and mushy details. As always, any coin purchased in an NGC holder is guaranteed to be authentic.

Reproduced with permission from the June 2020 edition of The Numismatist, official publication of the American Numismatic Association.

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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