The 1969-S Doubled Die cent is one of the classic modern U.S. Mint rarities, indeed among the rarest of all 20th century U.S. coins. It created huge waves in the numismatic marketplace, when in 1970, two examples were discovered independently of each other by Cecil Moorhouse and Bill Hudson and were reported on the cover of the July 8, 1970 Coin World. This issue gained early notoriety, as many counterfeits created by Roy Gray and Morton Goodman were struck and caught the attention of the Secret Service. In the course of their investigation into the Gray/Goodman counterfeits, Moorhouse’s coin was confiscated, but was returned once it was declared genuine. Goodman and Gray were finally arrested and put in jail for counterfeiting federal coinage. Dave Bowers writes in his Official Red Book Guide to Lincoln Cents that by the time the feds realized that there were genuine doubled die obverse coins of this date, five genuine coins had been destroyed.
In the 44 years since their discovery, there have been varying estimates of the number known — our catalogers note that based on the combined certified populations there are 40 to 50 examples (which might represent some duplication due to resubmissions, upgrades, crossovers). This may be too many, as PCGS believes there are about 30, and variety experts Bill Fivaz and J.T. Stanton estimate 17 to 32 examples known. No matter the number, it is probably safe to say that less than one coin per year has appeared on the market. Current PCGS Population data reveals that a baker’s dozen examples have been certified in Mint State. The MS-62RB (PCGS) specimen in our upcoming November Baltimore sale is a lovely example with much mint red luster radiating on both sides. There are a few minor ticks and a single reverse mark that account for the grade level. This is a very important opportunity for the advanced numismatist, as examples of this popular variety appear very infrequently, especially in the quality offered here. Low-grade Mint State coins have been selling for well over $40,000. The last public sale of an example was in early 2013. If you are building a Registry Collection of Lincoln cents, and you still have this hole to fill, be sure to review this coin in hand and prepare to participate in our sale. We wish you the best of luck!