Retained Interior Die Breaks

Connected to die crack or split

Definition: A retained interior die break occurs when a flake detaches from the die face but, instead of falling off, it sinks into the surrounding metal.

Depicted below is a large, retained interior die break straddling a split die in an uncirculated 1973-D nickel. Part of Monticello (the building, not the motto) is raised up on a pedestal, and there is an abrupt step-down to the rest of the design. Essentially, the split diverged around the flake at one end, and reunited at the other end. Of course, deep to the flake, the split would have to have been continuous. The flake would probably have been somewhat wedge-shaped if sectioned vertically from north to south. After breaking free, the flake sank into softer surrounding metal, leaving a corresponding raised area on the coin.


Definition: It’s a rare event when a die chip is so large that it warrants being designated an interior die break. Interior die breaks should not be confused with “cuds”. By definition, a cud is a die break that includes the rim and at least a little bit of the field.

Interior die breaks have no direct connection to the rim. They may have an indirect connection via a die crack or split die.

Since voids left in the die face by natural fractures span an unbroken size continuum, there is no clear boundary between a “die chip” and an “interior die break”.

Any void encompassing an area of 4 square millimeters or more qualifies as an interior die break. Any void that covers less than 1 square millimeter is a die chip. In between is a gray area. Die chips are commonly encountered in all denominations. In Lincoln cents they include “BIE” errors, “plugged” 5’s and 9’s, and “bugs in the wheat ear”.

Lincoln cent dies of the middle through late 1950’s were prone to cracking around the top of Lincoln’s head.

In the specimen below, there are a number of die cracks that extend from the raised island of metal and end blindly. Since none of the cracks reach the rim, the island of metal they radiate from is considered a freestanding retained interior die break. Another retained interior die break is forming to the southeast, creating an elevation that resembles a loose skin flap.