“It wasn’t until Del Ford published his ‘United States Major and Minor Mint Errors’, that the term ‘cud’ was first used to describe this error.”
In his explanation he stated that old time collectors referred to it as a ‘cud’ because of its similarity to a ‘chew’ or ‘cud’ of tobacco. Since that time we have heard of other quite graphic descriptions of it, (and some not so graphic), as the rolled fold, blob, and extra metal, but the term ‘cud’ has stuck, and that is what the error is known as – a ‘cud’. The name has nothing to do with nor derives its name from (cud) chewing animals.”
– Marvin & Margolis (1979)
Cuds are relatively easy to define, but often difficult to tell apart from a die crack. A cud is formed when an area on a die breaks and becomes independent. When the broken piece of die falls out of the press, it creates a full cud. When the broken die piece stays in place, it is called a retained cud. For it to be a cud, there must be horizontal and/or vertical displacement. Sometimes this can be seen with the naked eye, and other times a microscope or loop must be used for the displacement to be seen.
A full cud will not exhibit any design elements from the die, as the broken portion of the die has fallen out of the press. Further, the opposite side of the planchet will not exhibit a full strike from the die that is fully intact. This effect occurs because the missing piece of the die creates a void in the press when the planchet is struck. For example, the Lincoln cent below exhibits a full cud on the obverse – the die cracked nearly in half. Although the reverse die is fully intact, the missing metal from the obverse die provided no resistance to that side of the coin when it was struck. Thus, design elements are missing from both sides of the coin.
A retained cud is formed when the die breaks, but the broken piece remains in the press. Retained cuds will show a vertical and/or horizontal shift from movement of the die. This creates a step-like appearance on the planchet, and makes the coin appear as though it were ‘broken’. Coins exhibiting a retained cud on one side should have full-strike characteristics on the opposite side, unlike a true cud where the design elements are lost because the die fragment has fallen out of the press.
Rim cuds occur only on the outermost periphery of the die and do not warrant attribution by itself. They are relatively common and are often spotted.
To the left is an 1859 Indian Head Cent with a rim cud on the obverse. It runs from about 12:00 to 1:00 and does extend into the denticles. Cuds that include the denticles, but do not extend into the field or other devices, are also commonly called rim cuds.
At center is a rim cud on the reverse of an Indian Head Cent that is nearly limited to the rim. At right is an example of a rim cud on the reverse of an 1864 Copper Nickel Indian Cent. The rim cud on this specimen can be seen at roughly 3:00.
If you have an example of cuds on a Flying Eagle Cent, let us know! We would like to get additional pictures!
Last, collar cuds are created when the collar die breaks. The collar dies retains the coin’s shape when it is pressed. These types of cuds are very difficult to find for several reasons. First, no one ever looks at the edge of a coin! Second, they are difficult to see. Last, they are likely occurred only very rarely. I’ve only seen two examples, and both were from the same die and collar combination.