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How To Identify A 1920 Dot Above Top Scroll Penny

The dot above top scroll is by far the scarcest of the 1920 dot variety pennies and possibly second scarcest of the eight 1920 die combination varieties. The true mintage is difficult to ascertain but it appears that just one die was used and given how often they are found, a figure in the region of 20,000 seems reasonable.

Even on a sizable image, the dot above top scroll is difficult to pick. The two images directly below were kindly provided by David Guy and relate to his ebay listing during February 2008. As you can see the dot above the top scroll cannot be clearly seen in the image of the full reverse. Note also that this is also an exceptionally clear example of the dot above top scroll penny.

Now compare with the 1920 double dot penny. The dot above the top scroll is much easier to see.

Unfortunately as the lower dot of the much more common 1920 double dot penny is subject to die fill, some care is required for correct identification.
There are however some definite die characteristics that enable us to clearly differentiate between the double dot and dot above top pennies. In the tables below, we compare some key areas of the coins. (In all, the top two images are of different dot above top scroll pennies and the bottom one is of a double dot penny).

The dot above the top scroll is much more clearly defined on the double dot penny. There is a definite "moat" around the double dot and the dot above top appears quite weak (and is hard to see with the naked eye and difficult to scan).

There are some raised lines due to die damage above the W of COMMONWEALTH on the double dot pennies. These do not appear on the dot above top. This is the clearest means of identification.

On the dot above top there is a very faint line extending out from near the base of the final A in AUSTRALIA. This is absent on the double dot penny. Unfortunately this can be difficult to see; indeed while it is visible on the first of the two specimens pictured it cannot be readily seen on the second.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Dr Paul Holland who first described the differing die charactersitics of the double dot and dot above top pennies to me and also to David Guy for allowing the use of his dot above top penny images.

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