Trail Dies and Wavy Step Lincoln Cents
When the MINT began using the single squeeze process, it was thought that the doubled die would be
a thing of the past. This was not the case and this type hubbing system has introduced us to another
form of variety die, trails / wavy steps.
This type of variety is not a doubled die, since it does not double a design element, however, it is
considered a design extension or a continuation of the design affected.
The first wavy step, which is a trail die, was discovered in the early part of 1995 on the reverse of a
1994P Lincoln cent. After that initial discovery, over 500 other dies have been found with this type
anomaly, ranging in date from 1982 to 2007 and from all three MINTS.
The above picture is typical wavy step, so named for the way the steps are bent or deviated by the
extension of the columns. This affect can be seen under columns 1 through 12, however, like the
example above, is most commonly found under columns 5 through 8. Wavy steps occur only on the
reverse die of the Lincoln Memorial building and the only under the columns, affecting the stairs and
The picture below is the strongest wavy step Lincoln cent known to date, it even affects the lowest step.
From 1999, this is listed as die # 15.
Trails on the other hand, can occur on both the obverse and reverse dies, in any location except the
stylobate and stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. In the below picture, we can see trails from the tops of
the letters in EPU, with an offset direction of 060º.
The above picture shows trails from the letters of LIBERTY in an example of this type of anomaly.
These types of anomalies are newly discovered, relatively speaking, so a search of circulated rolls
of Lincoln cents will uncover more than a few of these fascinating anomalies and at times, a new
discovery piece. Just recently, a 1982 (LDZ) and a 1983-D Lincoln cent have been discovered with
trails. Also, do not restrict yourself to just searching Lincoln cents; other denominational coins have
been found with trails.
Article by BJ Neff 1/26/08