by Frank M. Zapushek,

The best know error or variety for the Franklin half dollar series is the “Bugs Bunny”. Some collectors believe it was the result of a die clash. The striking of the dies without a planchet between them. Some say it is just die deterioration.

Let’s examine how a researcher determines what could have caused the resulting error.

With the age of computers and professional graphic programs, we can make overlays of coins to determine what would be the result of a die clash. First let’s take an obverse image of the 1955 P Franklin and then the reverse image of the same coin.

First we must take photographs of a 1955 P “Bugs Bunny”, both the obverse and the reverse. The macro photographs must be taken with the same lens, with the same focal setting. This will give you two images that are the same size.

Then we scan the photographs into the computer. We must check to make sure the images or both correctly positioned. Now it starts getting a little tricky. The obverse must show the top if the head pointing north. But the top of the bell on the reverse must be pointing south. Remember that the reverse of a coin is rotated at a 180 turn from the obverse.

We are not done yet, because as you look down on the reverse die, the image is also flipped. Because when the die strikes the planchet, it makes the correct reverse. So know we must horizontally flip the reverse image. What we have is shown below.

Now we can start our little experiment. We must copy the obverse image and paste it on top of the reverse image.

Once the obverse image is pasted on top of the reverse image, we reduce the opaque value of the obverse to about 50%. This makes the reverse image show through the obverse image. What we have in effect is a die clash on our screen.

The image on the left is the actual overlay, while the image on the right has had the letters and date removed from the obverse image. This makes the image on the right easier to examine.

Now we are ready to examine what would be the effect of a die clash. First we check Franklin’s upper lip. Then we check out the over polished area in front of the eye. Now we check other areas that might still show signs of a die clash.

Below are enlargements of the lip and the eye area from the overlay.

The enlargement on the left shows that the feather ribs at the end of the wing line up exactly with the teeth on the upper lip. The enlargement on the right shows the bell lines across the eye area. There is heavy polishing in the area around the eye. Most likely to remove traces of the bell.

While hecking the coin over, I noticed another sign of a die clash that is not talked about. The back of the head. To be more precise, the third curl up from the bottom of the hair. The three white arrows show the vertical bar of the “B” in “PLURIBUS”.

The black arrow shows the die polishing to remove the “E” above “PLURIBUS”.

The wing feathers match the teeth, the bell lines match the area of the eye, the “B” lines up with the extra metal in the hair, and the “E” matches the polished area that removed the hair detail.

Is the story that the teeth are the result of a die clash a myth or fact? You decide…

Have a question, need an answer, drop me a line. Frank M. Zapushek PO Box 1993, Bloomington, IL. 61702. If writing, please include a SASE. Or email me at No charge for authentication or questions.