Littleton Coin Company

Something to chew on…
What are coin “cuds” and die crack errors – and how do they form?

1980 Lincoln Cent, die break example - Littleton Coin Blog
This 1980 Lincoln cent is a great example of a die break – note the excess metal below Lincoln’s portrait at the bottom center of the obverse.

Have you ever come across a coin with what looks to be an extra line or “blob” of metal on its surface? They’re not seen often, but these are known as marginal die breaks, or “cuds”. This is a coinage error that’s created when a die (used to strike a coin) is missing a piece near the rim. Given the immense pressure used to strike coins, the metal from the planchet (or coin blank) flows into the negative area left by the missing piece of the die.

Given the strict quality control measures in place at the U.S. Mint (read more about how modern coins are made here), it’s no surprise that errors like these aren’t found often on modern coins. If they do occur, most times they’re caught and destroyed before ever having a chance to make it into the hands of collectors.

But still…

Last summer, it was reported that a 10-year-old collector was lucky enough to find several 2022-P Wilma Mankiller quarters with a retained cud on the obverse.1 What a great discovery!

Die Crack Errors

While we do have the Wilma Mankiller quarters available, we haven’t yet come across any examples of these coins with a retained cud. Have you found any?

A close relative of the marginal die break is the die crack error. Instead of a piece of metal breaking away from a die completely, this error results when a die simply splits (or cracks). Instead of a “blob” of metal, these will show as a raised line on the coin.

There are a number of historic VAM Morgan dollars that are identified as die breaks. Some even have fun nicknames, like “Scarface” (on 1888-O Morgans) and “Wounded Eagle” (on the 1881-S coins). VAMs are considered varieties, not errors, and are named for researchers and silver dollar enthusiasts Leroy Van Allen and A. George Mallis. In 1971, the two published their research, listing each variety by date and mint mark in their book, The Comprehensive Catalog and Encyclopedia of Morgan and Peace Dollars.

No matter your interests, there’s no doubt that error coins like die breaks and cuds can add depth and dimension to any collection. Beyond the die breaks and die cracks covered here, there are many other types of error coins that are sought after by collectors. Do you collect error coins? If so, what’s your favorite piece?

This article was written by Kierstin S.

Since 2000, Kierstin has enjoyed sharing her love of collecting with folks like you.


1 Gilkes, Paul, “Ten-year-old finds cud error Mankiller quarters” (Coin World), July 28, 2022. Accessed January 26, 2023.

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