Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

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messydesk
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Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by messydesk » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:14 pm

I just got another e-mail from Roger Burdette, this time with a letter giving insight into the 79-S Rev. of '78.
Feb'y. 27, 1879

Hon. Jas. Pollock
Supt. U. S. Mint
Philadelphia

Sir:

I have to request that you will cause to be prepared and transmitted to the Mint at San Francisco the following dies, viz.:

Standard dollar dies 20 obverses
" " reverses

The Superintendent of that Mint requests that these dies be made from the same hub used in 1878, prior to his requisition for dies for the calendar year, 1879.

Very respectfully,
R. E. Preston
Act'g Director
It would seem that the 79-S Rev. '78 was intentional, and I'm a bit surprise that such a request would have been granted.
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by DHalladay » Sat Nov 02, 2019 3:24 pm

John: That does seem very unusual. My immediate reaction is there may have more to the story, perhaps in earlier or later correspondence.
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by messydesk » Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:57 pm

More of the story, from later correspondence forwarded to me today by Roger:
March 10, 1879

H. T. Dodge, Esq.
Supt. Mint, San Francisco

Sir:

I have to advise you of the shipment to your mint by Adams Express Co. on the 8th inst. [March 8] of twenty (20) obverse and twenty (20) reverse standard dollar dies, called for by your letter of the 19th ultº [Feb. 19].

These dies have been prepared from hubs approved in June 1878, which have been the only ones used since that time.

Express receipt is herewith enclosed.

Very respectfully,
Horatio C Burchard
Director.
So they're getting III2 obverses and C3 reverses in this batch, as those were approved on June 28, 1878. Since SF only had the B reverses in 1878, it would seem that they were requesting B reverses, but were told to expect C reverses instead.
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by DHalladay » Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:04 pm

Thanks for the extra insight into a great family of VAMs.
I feel like teasing Todd about this (not giving him any credit), and accusing him of having some responsibility via heredity. :lol:
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by Unc90o » Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:04 pm

So have anyone link or research which of the obverse 78 that was used for 79s? And how did the S mint able removed the 8 and punched the 9 so nicely, unlike to what happened the year after (79/80 overdate)?

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by shortnock » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:25 am

Wow. More great research by Roger.
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by RogerB » Mon Nov 04, 2019 5:16 pm

To "Unc90o"
All dies were prepared in the Engraving Department of the Philadelphia Mint. No individual mint was authorized to make changes.

To VAM collectors:
Regarding 1879-S dollars using hubs from 1878.
I am working on a little article on this subject and invite participation and suggestions from members. This includes high quality detail photos of Rev 78 and Rev 79 showing major differences, observations comparing 1878 and 1879 obverse detail in Liberty's hair, especially over the ear, and other interesting points. All material used in the article will be fully attributed.

As other interesting information comes to light during research, I will likely post it here for members to consider.

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by collectinsince65 » Mon Nov 04, 2019 5:26 pm

Awesome.
Simply a great variety 79 s rev of 78
Look forward to your research results Roger!
Mike

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by Unc90o » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:29 pm

I read below but didn't comprehend it the 1st time.
"These dies have been prepared from hubs approved in June 1878, which have been the only ones used since that time."
Thanks again Roger.

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by RogerB » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:15 am

The 1878 reverse referred to (I think VAM specialists call it Reverse #2) was tested in April and approved about May 5.

The reverse commonly called "Rev of 1879" was created in May 1878, but ordered withheld from use until mid-October. Correspondence suggests, but is not explicit, that Director Linderman wanted to get production stabilized before introducing yet another design modification.

(On the technical side - a very minor change, at least to us regular folks, can have a major impact on coin quality, stacking height, die life and other factors. In the 1870s the only way to find out if a change was useful was to strike a lot of test pieces. The same was used in the 1930s during attempts to improve die life and consistency while maintaining good quality. Notebooks for some of the 1930s Engraving Department work exist,)

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by messydesk » Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:19 am

RogerB wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:15 am
The 1878 reverse referred to (I think VAM specialists call it Reverse #2) was tested in April and approved about May 5.

The reverse commonly called "Rev of 1879" was created in May 1878, but ordered withheld from use until mid-October. Correspondence suggests, but is not explicit, that Director Linderman wanted to get production stabilized before introducing yet another design modification.
So now the statement, "These dies have been prepared from hubs approved in June 1878, which have been the only ones used since that time," seems ambiguous. The reverse of 79 was approved on June 28, 1878, but didn't go into use until late in the year (proofs were made in November). The letters above are from early 1879, indicating that only one hub design has been used since June. Were rev. of 79 dies already being made and stockpiled in June once the design was approved, even though they weren't being used, making Burchard correct with respect to die manufacturing, but not coinage?
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by RogerB » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:01 pm

One thought is that the 7-TF reverse was used from about May 5 forward until Linderman was satisfied with its production stability. That also alleviated pressure on the mints to make 2 million+ dollars a month by extending die life. This makes sense given Linderman's order not to use the 3rd version (with wider rims and slanted arrow).

This Rev of -79 was evidently used to fill all requisitions for 1879 dollars dies, with the dies going into a more-or-less trial use at Philadelphia only.

There are obvious gaps in documents we have, but more items might turn up. Some of the difficulty in documenting US Mint activities from later 1878 and January 1879 results from Linderman's illness. He had liver cancer and that left most of the director's duties to Robert Preston (Mint Examiner). Preston was a capable career employee, but like most "Acting" administrators, his focus was on keeping things running until a permanent replacement was available.

Linderman died in January 1879 and was replaced by Horatio Burchard. The tone, content and "authority" changes dramatically versus Preston's once he was in office.

PS: I suspect the "1878" dies would not have been sent if Burchard had been in office. Preston was Acting Director when the dies from an old hub were shipped.

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by RogerB » Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:40 pm

Does anyone have high quality images of 1879-S 7TF rev'79 and 1878-S details showing key differences between the two hubs? I would like to use a collector's photos in an article. Full credit line will be provided.

Thanks!

Roger B

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by messydesk » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:00 pm

I can get you some tonight.
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by RogerB » Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:44 am

Thanks!

There are gaps in correspondence caused by missing letters, or absence of internal Philadelphia Mint information.

The idea of stockpiling unhardened 1879 dies is reasonable, especially when we recall that a great many 1880 dies for all mints were actually re-dated dies from 1879. It will have to be up to VAM specialists to connect the dots - or maybe add some more dots - the the outline.

(I've come across nothing mentioning 1880 overdates - but W. Barber died Sept 1, 1879. That left "Special Engraver" Morgan technically in charge with C. Barber and William Key as assistant engravers. Linderman, Morgan's sponsor was already dead and Director Burchard was an ex-Congressman with no coin minting experience. Interestingly, Burchard might have been instrumental in supporting Rep Stevens in the Goloid/Stella/Metric dollar nonsense.)

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by vampicker » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:17 pm

I'd think it would be worth getting feedback from Brian Raines on the actual die progressions involved with the early 79-S Rev of 79 and the Rev of 78 marriages. I am fairly certain that now every 79-S Rev of 78 marriage has had its obverse traced to an earlier use with a Rev of 79 mate. Further, at least some of the Rev of 78 reverse dies are also known from 1878 marriages. And the crazy ground down and then acid treated Rev of 79 dies also fit into this story.
I sound like a broken record citing the Nov 1964 Neil Shafer article from Whitman Numismatic Journal, but he notes mint correspondence from the National Archives discussing the difference in thickness between the 1878 coins and the 1879 coins. It's stated to be nearly a full coin off in a stack of twenty.
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by RogerB » Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:36 pm

Brian and I have discussed the data, and will likely continue this.

The piling height is something of confusion. In one letter Spt. Dodge points out a height difference of one coin between 1878-S and 1879-S. Yet is own measurements are within 1/32-inch of those provided by Mint HQ including a comprehensive table made for the New Orleans Mint. Lastly, Dodge closes his part of the correspondence by saying, "...relative to the trouble with our Standard Dollar dies, I beg to state that we have no serious difficulty with them, that is to say, our coins pile correctly...." [Mar 19, 1879]

We do not have San Francisco Coining Department data or internal correspondence. Maybe it is is San Bruno NARA...? We also lack statements by W. Barber and the Coiner at Philadelphia that were copied and sent to Dodge.

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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by vampicker » Fri Nov 08, 2019 6:36 pm

I think Shafer did his archival research in DC. He's still around the industry. He's the same Neil Shafer that has built a lifetime of work writing and editing works on paper money.
With Brian's involvement, you already have a solid body of work on the coins themselves. Now I'm even more interested in seeing the finished project.
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by shortnock » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:10 pm

Yeah! Shortnock would like to see that, too. Love Roger's work.
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Re: Mint Correspondence regarding 79-S Rev. of 78

Post by RogerB » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:54 am

RE: "We do not have San Francisco Coining Department data or internal correspondence. Maybe it is is San Bruno NARA...? We also lack statements by W. Barber and the Coiner at Philadelphia that were copied and sent to Dodge."

I've asked a collector/author in that area to check NARA at San Bruno. no guarantee of what, if anything, will be found.

The detailed VAM-related results are in Brian's very capable and experienced hands. I'm sure he will produce a product that meets the needs and expectations of VAM specialists. My interest is on a more general level. A draft article on the subject is in preparation, and it will be offered to publications catering to a wide numismatic audience.

Roger

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