Why does the obverse have more scrapes and marks than the reverse?

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RogerB
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Why does the obverse have more scrapes and marks than the reverse?

Post by RogerB » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:32 pm

A common observation among Morgan dollar collectors is that the coin’s obverse often seems to have more marks than the reverse. The photo below is a typical example ––
morgansforever.jpg
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[Posted Feb.1, 2020 by morgansforever in PCGS thread “It’s SNOWING hard right now. Post a frosty coin!”]

The coin shows no circulation abrasion, but the obverse is severely scraped, while the reverse is nearly free of such marks. The unanswered question is “Why did this happen?”

Press operation was the principle cause. Toggle presses used for striking Morgan dollars normally had the obverse die in the upper (“hammer”) position. This meant that all coins were struck with the obverse facing up. After a coin was struck, the planchet feeding mechanism swept a completed coin (obverse up) to a steep chute that directed coins into a catch-bin (or “trolley box”).

The chute was short and steep to prevent coins from backing up into the press. Further, the lower end of the chute was placed high above the catch-bin to avoid coins piling, and allow as many pieces as possible to be kept in the bin until it had to be replaced.

Combination of a silver dollar’s mass, steep slope, and vertical drop of from one to three feet gave Morgan dollars considerable kinetic energy. All coins were face-up, and in falling the sharp reeded edge was more likely to make first contact with coins in the bin. Coins already in the bin had, like all the others, mostly fallen with the obverse upward. The result was that sharp reeds and raised edge nicked and scraped the obverse of other coins they hit. The severity of damage depended largely on drop height and angle of the blow. Coins falling into a nearly empty catch-bin were more likely to be damaged than those falling into a full bin.

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CascadeChris
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Re: Why does the obverse have more scrapes and marks than the reverse?

Post by CascadeChris » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:55 pm

Yup. Good cursory info of the Morgan coining process for those who dont know Roger. It's amazing we have a relatively robust population of 68's, not to mention the relative handful of 69's in existence today which most definitely would have been contemporaneously higher.

Whenever I see a massively hard bag mark I always assume, and correctly I again assume, that it was from the cute slide into the bin due to what you just laid out. Meaning that those hammered "bag" hits were most likely the very first post mint damage of any significance the coin received. Love this stuff 🥰

...Now go into the next step, the chicks at the table tapping away 😃
Alonzi VW 2.0!

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Longstrider
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Re: Why does the obverse have more scrapes and marks than the reverse?

Post by Longstrider » Sat Feb 01, 2020 6:13 pm

Great explanation. Seems like 'bag marks" may be another term ready for a re-do in the new glossary of terms. Thanks.🐍

pete$298
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Re: Why does the obverse have more scrapes and marks than the reverse?

Post by pete$298 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 12:11 am

Thanks RogerB. As you say, it is a common observation and being sort of new at this, it helps to answer one more of my Morgan questions.

RogerB
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Re: Why does the obverse have more scrapes and marks than the reverse?

Post by RogerB » Sun Feb 02, 2020 5:03 pm

A similar explanation applies to double eagles; however, the gold DE bins were smaller than those used for silver dollars, and might have been placed closer to the end of the chute. It was normal for fresh DE from San Francisco to grade by modern standards MS-65 or better. (Shipwreck coin data, Saddle Ridge hoard, etc.)

The Mints were very careful to avoid abrasion with gold coins - literally worth their weight in gold - and the larger denominations were handled gingerly. DE were also individually weighed before bagging, and there was a strict bag tolerance in addition to an individual coin tolerance.

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