Attributing United States Coin Die Varieties

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Areas of Variety Attribution, There are two basic disciplines of variety attribution with respect to US coins. Each requires a somewhat different set of skills, The first area pertains to dies produced using extensive hand punching of. the lesser design elements These include all of the Liberty Bust types. coined from 1793 until the mid to late 1830s The presses of this period. simply were not powerful enough to transmit the entire design in the die. making process, The second area concerns dies in which nearly the entire design was. hubbed leaving only the date and mintmark to be hand punched Such. coins were made from the late 1830s until fairly recently but since 1990 91. all features of the die have been fully hubbed with almost no variation. beyond that caused by the occasional double hubbed die. Attributing Varieties on Hand Punched Dies, On early US coins only the central devices were impressed into the die using a. hub These typically included the bust of Liberty and the figure of an eagle. Liberty s hair and the eagle s feathers were often touched up afterward with a. graving tool to bring them out more fully Small elements such as the leaves. and stems of the wreath were then added with individual punches. The placement of stars legends the denomination and the date was also done. with hand punches The engraver used a compass to inscribe a circle for. arranging these elements as neatly as possible but their relative positions. always varied enough that a numismatist may distinguish one die from another. Die Marriages, These early coins are attributed by each known combination of obverse and.
reverse die For example Overton variety 101 of the 1803 half dollar combined. Obverse 1 with Reverse A while O 102 used that same obverse die with. Reverse B This durable obverse was paired yet again with Reverse C to. create O 103, Such combinations of dies are known as die marriages and each marriage is. assigned a unique number for that date, When a variation occurs within a particular die marriage it is assigned a sub. letter For example O 102 is also known with a die crack on the reverse and. this is labeled O 102a,Examples of Wreath Cent Varieties. Shown are two 1793 Flowing Hair Wreath Cents that seem to be very similar. Closer examination reveals that only the portrait of Liberty is essentially. identical with just minor retouching by hand The sprig of leaves and the date. however were clearly punched separately of the main device and show. differences in their relative shapes and positions The coins are Sheldon variety. 9 left and S 10 right,Reverses of S 9 and S 10, The reverse dies for Wreath Cents were very complex and required extensive hand. punching of the small elements Even the bow securing the wreath was hand. punched and differs from one die to the other This design was greatly simplified later. in 1793 to eliminate so much post hubbing work, Sheldon varieties are sequential for the entire series and do not revert to the first.
number for each successive date Other attribution systems such as Overton s for. early half dollars begin anew with each date so different dates will each have. variety O 101,Differing Die Elements, These two 1799 Eagles provide another instance in which the coins initially look. identical but closer inspection reveals that the coin on the left had its 13 stars applied. with a larger punch than the one used for the coin on the right As a result the Large. Stars variety has overlapping star points while the Small Stars variety has its stars. lined up point to point, The punches used for the letters and numerals were the same for each die though. their relative positions vary a bit,Die Marriages,Overton varieties O 104a and O. 105 for 1826 half dollars used a,single obverse die but different. reverse dies Each Overton,number identifies a separate die.
Good Books Are Essential, Having the right book and learning how to use it is essential in attributing varieties. This is particularly true of early US coins as very little of this information is available. Though some of these books are out of print and may be costly a professional. attributor has no choice but to mark them up with his notes These make the. attribution process far easier and it s the only practical way to identify large numbers. of coins quickly,Attributing Varieties on Fully Hubbed Dies. By 1837 only the punching of dates and mintmarks was performed by hand Even. these features eventually became a part of the hub The new coins series introduced. starting in 1907 all included a date as part of the hub and thus the position and style. of the date never varied This date was altered as needed each year by hand. engraving into the master die for that year, Starting in 1909 existing coin designs of older types had their dates punched fully. into the master die So while they might vary a bit from year to year there would be. no variations within a single year This signaled the end of Repunched Dates and. Misplaced Dates, Mintmarks too became a feature of the hub starting in 1985 with proofs and. extending to currency coinage during 1990 91 Today s coins vary only by accident a. goal that took 200 years to achieve,Types of Varieties Found on Dies That.
Were Almost Fully Hubbed, Perhaps the most popular varieties are those concerning date placement These. occur when the date is punched two or more times If punches bearing the same. date were used the resulting doubling is called a Repunched Date RPD. Repunched Dates, 1857 57 Eagle Cent 1866 1866 Shield Nickel 1849 1849 Gold Eagle. FS 103 FS 302 Breen 6888, When a Repunched Date results from the use of different dates it. is known as an Overdate OVD, 1858 7 Flying Eagle Cent 1883 1882 Shield Nickel 1880 CC 8 7 Morgan Dollar. FS 301 FS 301 VAM 6 Low 7 Overdate,1881 1880 Coronet Half Eagle.
1887 6 Morgan Dollar 1862 1 Coronet Quarter Eagle,VAM 2 FS 301. Misplaced Dates, When date numerals miss the target zone altogether they are. known as Misplaced Dates MPD,1897 Indian Head Cent FS 401. 1872 Seated Liberty Dollar Breen 5491,1847 Coronet Half Eagle FS 302. 1866 S Motto Double Eagle FS 1301,Repunched Mintmarks.
Mintmarks continued to be punched into each working die with hand tools until late in the 20th. century Like dates these were often punched two or more times until the die sinker was. satisfied with both their placement and depth Below are several Repunched Mintmarks RPM. and one Over Mintmark OMM, 1956 D D 1c FS 501 1936 S S 5c FS 501 1959 D Inv D 10c FS 501 1877 S Hor S 25c FS 501. 1900 O CC 1 VAM 12 1856 S S 1 FS 501 1846 D D 5 1915 S S Panama Pacific 50c FS 502. Doubled Dies, This is a catch all term for any variety resulting from multiple hubbings of a die that. do not match completely Until the 1990s the US Mint required two or more. impressions from a hub to create a die If the impressions were misaligned with one. another or the hubs were not identical the result was a doubled image that. transferred to each coin Multiple images may appear with as many as six being. observed for some dies These can be quite collectable. With coin types introduced in 1907 and later Overdates OVD sometimes resulted. when the successive hub impressions carried different dates This is because the. dates were included in the hub and not punched into the die Examples of this type. of OVD include the 1918 7 D nickel the 1942 41 dime and the 1909 8 Double. Collectors of Buffalo Nickels seek coins that have had the Indian s shallow small feather polished away and collectors of Morgan and Peace Dollars have a particular fascination with Clashed Dies even to the point of writing specialized books about them Clashed Die and Abraded Die Varieties

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