Wrong Design
& Transitional Reverses:

Close AMs and Wide AMs
(CAMs & WAMs)

Through the years both the obverse and reverse of the Lincoln cent has been modified or changed altogether numerous times. The most obvious switch to the reverse was in 1959 when the Mint introduced the new memorial design and said goodbye to the wheat reverse.

Over time the memorial reverse has been adjusted and fine-tuned; James Wiles, PH.D., chief variety attributer for CONECA has attempted to document the various design alterations and has assigned them numbers (J. Wiles: www.varietyvista.com). Dr. Wiles has now documented eight design changes to just the Lincoln memorial reverse and labeled them RDVs 001-008 (Wiles).

With so many changes comes an increased chance that occurrences of one design being incorrectly used. These make for the way for a new category of variety being refereed to as Wrong Design (WD) varieties (J. Wexler: http://doubleddie.com). When one design meant for one year is erroneously used on another year, they are being called a Transitional Reverses (TR) (Wexler).

These new varieties have been popular and in some cases are being traded at an extraordinary premium. This demand is spreading; old and new collectors alike are now scouring for both known Wrong Design varieties and potential new ones. For anyone that has not spent time studying methods of variety identification using the appropriate equipment, identification can be difficult. There are numerous and reliable resources available to aid collectors, here are a few: (Wiles: www.varietyvista.com), (B. Podraza: www.lincolncentresource.com), (K. Potter: http://koinpro.tripod.com) and (B. Crawford: Die Variety News Vol. 1, No. 2, July 2006, pg. 10).

The following information is not meant to substitute for any known resources, simply aid them. Known Transitional Reveres include: 1988P & D both with RDV-006 (1988 Reverse of ‘89); and 1992P & D both with RDV-007 (called Close AMs or CAMs in reference to the close AM). All four examples have the design for the following year (1989 and 1993, respectively). The ‘88P TR has been found in large numbers while the ‘88D TR and ‘92D CAM have been very rare with numbers in the teens; the 92P CAM has only seen two examples surface.

Wrong Design varieties have been plentiful. For unknown reasons, reverse dies (RDV-006) meant for proof coinage ended up paired with business strike obverses: 1998P, 1999P & 2000P (all called Wide AMs or WAMs in reference to the wide AM). And in two cases, the opposite has occurred, with proofs. Business strike reverses (RDV-007) matched with proof obverses: seen on the 1998S & 1999S (called Close AMs or CAMs). There has been only a small number of the ‘98S CAM proofs. Both the ‘99S CAM as well as the ’99 WAM are considered rare. The ’98 WAM and ’00 WAM have been found in large enough numbers to keep premiums relatively low in context of the other varieties mentioned. It is unknown if at other times from 1993 to 2008 if there were any other examples of dies being mixed up. It is advised to be on the lookout as the potential , while small, does exist.

The changes in design are hard to detect in full. They all involve either a modification in the font used in the designer’s initials (FG) or the spacing between the AM in AMERICA. If searching with just a loupe, be advised that a cheap pocket scope would be a good purchase; these can be found at an electronics store. Also be forewarned that there are numerous forces, whether through the minting process or from contact from consumers (Post Mint Damage or PMD) that can alter these details thereby causing them to erroneously being misidentified as a particular variety. (Inspect both the FG and AM and always keep an example of each reverse handy for comparison purposes.)

RDV-005 exhibits a shallow and delicate FG (which is often polished with a reduction in detail); and has a wide spaced AM. Used on P, D & S from 1986-1988

RDV-006 displays a more robust FG with a hooked G, (note, the FG is close to the memorial); and has a wide spaced AM. Used from 1989 – 1992 on P & D business strikes, and on S proofs from 1989 – 1992, and again from 1994 – 2008. Incorrectly found on ‘88P & D (called 1988 Reverse of ‘89); ‘96P, ‘98P, 99P & ‘00P (called WAM, sometimes called a type II reverse).

RDV-007 shows a low relief FG that almost appears flat on the face. The FG has been moved further from the memorial and the hook on the G has been removed again. The AM is spaced close to the point where they are almost touching. Used from 1993 – 2008 on P & D business strikes and the 1993S proof. Incorrectly found on the ‘92P & D; and the ‘98S & ‘99S proofs (called CAM).
Images © Jason Cuvelier 2009: www.cuvelier.org