Retained Cuds


Definition; A retained cud is a marginal die break that that has not fallen out.  In other words, the die fragment, though completely detached from the intact portion of the die, is held in place.  Retained cuds involving the anvil die are held in place by the collar.  A retained cud may progress to a fully-fledged cud.

The image to the lower left shows an 1892 Indian cent with a rim-to-rim die crack constituting a retained CUD.  Several other die cracks connect up with it.

The image to the lower right shows a 1945-(P) Lincoln cent with retained cud involving the upper portion of the right wheat ear.

Hammer Die

Definition: A retained cud is a fragment that breaks off the edge of the die but is nevertheless held in place.  Retained cuds are rarely found in connection with the hammer die.  That’s because gravity usually insures that the fragment falls out and is lost.  It’s been said that the fragment is held in place by the bolts or clamp that secure the hammer die in its recess within the die assembly.  But this cannot be the case because the die neck (where retained cuds form) is free.  It is the die shaft and base that are tightened down.  There must therefore be another mechanism responsible for retained cuds of the hammer die.

The vast majority of claimed retained cuds of the hammer die are probably invalid.  Most of these alleged retained cuds were probably still connected to the rest of the die neck.  Slight to moderate displacement is likely due to subsurface deformation beneath a cracked die face.

In cases of severe horizontal displacement, it’s possible that the die fragment breaks free, shifts position, and then fuses to the roof of the void during the next strike.


This 1943-S Lincoln cent shown above represents a reasonably good candidate for a retained cud of the hammer die (in this case the obverse die).  The island of design at the base of Lincoln’s bust shows a great deal of lateral spread and horizontal offset.  The amount of vertical displacement is slight, however.  If this is a true retained cud, it’s likely that the die fragment fused to the roof of the void after breaking free and shifting position.  If not, then we can assign the movement to subsurface deformation. 


By using the simplest degree or basis of what constitutes a retained cud is the most logical approach to the question “what is or what is not”. While it is true that some rim to rim die cracks do not have that encompassed piece yet dislodged from the main portion of the die, it is an almost impossible task to establish that fact. A degree of vertical or latitude displacement of that area inside the rim to rim die crack is a confident sign that the portion is no longer attached and necessary to be called a retained cud

It can also be said that a rim to rim die crack may not be a retained cud at one certain time, but it can form into a retained cud at a later time and further form into a cud. 

So, we use the simplest form of what a retained cud is; a die crack that is from rim to rim and has a portion of either the field or a portion of a design element(s) contained within and has a lateral or vertical displacement.