Die Studies

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LateDateMorganGuy
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Die Studies

Post by LateDateMorganGuy » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:49 am

I have a continuum of a rant about doing die studies.

I am currently working on the 1888-S series, thanks to Big John (BJV).

Here is a conundrum for you to think about. The series has a listed mintage of 657K coins. But there are 16 base VAMs listed. This would make an average of 41K average coins per die minted if every listed VAM had a different obverse and reverse die. Given that conventional wisdom is that maybe 100K to 150K average coins were minted per die, what is wrong with this picture? Conventional wisdom would suggest that only 4 to 5 obverse and reverse dies were used by the SF Mint in 1888, not 16.

Think before you leap.

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alefzero
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Re: Die Studies

Post by alefzero » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:14 am

Not addressing the post exactly, but here is an 88-S that has a reverse that is not listed. S is set and tilted left, a reverse die class that is not represented in the listings.

https://coins.ha.com/itm/morgan-dollars ... 234-8409.s

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LateDateMorganGuy
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Re: Die Studies

Post by LateDateMorganGuy » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:56 am

John, that would seem to be a VAM-5/5A. Apparently Leroy saw it as a C3a reverse. Go figure. Your observation is what makes VAM listing tuff and die studies imperative. What is one man's left mint mark is another man's centered & upright.

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Re: Die Studies

Post by alefzero » Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:47 am

I think someone identified it as a 7. All the more reason to do a die study. I started one years back and got distracted. Only contributions I made to the listings, I believe, is 6, 6A, 6B, 6C, 6D. I seem to recall seeing an obverse that appeared to match that used also on the 13 or possibly a different state without the gouges. Foggy memories.

That S is significantly closer to the left ribbon than the right.

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Re: Die Studies

Post by bigjayvee » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:12 pm

Alan, Sorry for getting you into this 1888-S die study,but you know you love it!!! Those figures you pointed out are quite amazing and show that this date and mint are understudied. Maybe because of the cost of this date & mint and low mintage. Kind of like the 1884-S. I have no doubt that the 88's that I showed on VW is a new vam ,might have to send to LVA after March to find out. Seeing JC commenting shows there is interest. Great work as usual, Alan

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HawkeEye
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Re: Die Studies

Post by HawkeEye » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:02 pm

Well you also have die reuse, clashing, touch ups, pitting, repaired dies, repunching, gouges, and reuse of dies from prior years. Short of someone like Roger finding the documentation showing actual die usage I have not been able to make the averages work out. He often finds notes where the Mint employees found dies to be unsatisfactory from bad tempering or other errors and they were never put into production.

I don't know this series specifically, but the way we classify VAM's on characteristics makes conclusions about actual coins minted per die very difficult.
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Re: Die Studies

Post by RogerB » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:24 pm

I'll add the 1888-S die summary to my list of things to look for.

Meanwhile, NNP has Entry-1 (General Correspondence) for 1888 digitized. Here is a link to box 155. This covers Dec 1888 and Jan 1889 - which is where the calendar year die summary should appear. But, there is no assurance it is in this archive entry. The link goes directly to the file - you don;t have to search.

https://ia601408.us.archive.org/13/item ... 55pana.pdf

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Re: Die Studies

Post by HawkeEye » Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:04 pm

Wow, at over 1000 pages you will need your specks on.
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Re: Die Studies

Post by TheYokel » Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:49 pm

LateDateMorganGuy wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:49 am
I have a continuum of a rant about doing die studies.

I am currently working on the 1888-S series, thanks to Big John (BJV).

Here is a conundrum for you to think about. The series has a listed mintage of 657K coins. But there are 16 base VAMs listed. This would make an average of 41K average coins per die minted if every listed VAM had a different obverse and reverse die. Given that conventional wisdom is that maybe 100K to 150K average coins were minted per die, what is wrong with this picture? Conventional wisdom would suggest that only 4 to 5 obverse and reverse dies were used by the SF Mint in 1888, not 16.

Think before you leap.
Carson City used 20 pairs to mint 670k in 1893. And they took really good care of their dies.

The VAMs given to those dies would depend on the hubbing of the die itself, not the number of pairs used. 10 obverse dies could all be VAM-1 if they were made from the same hub that didn't show any unique doubling etc. Correct?
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Re: Die Studies

Post by messydesk » Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:39 pm

TheYokel wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:49 pm

Carson City used 20 pairs to mint 670k in 1893. And they took really good care of their dies.

The VAMs given to those dies would depend on the hubbing of the die itself, not the number of pairs used. 10 obverse dies could all be VAM-1 if they were made from the same hub that didn't show any unique doubling etc. Correct?
Correct. Your example of 93-CC is an interesting choice, since not long ago there was a letter to CC from 1893 shown here that scolded them for ordering so many dies.
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Re: Die Studies

Post by TheYokel » Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:47 pm

messydesk wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:39 pm
TheYokel wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:49 pm

Carson City used 20 pairs to mint 670k in 1893. And they took really good care of their dies.

The VAMs given to those dies would depend on the hubbing of the die itself, not the number of pairs used. 10 obverse dies could all be VAM-1 if they were made from the same hub that didn't show any unique doubling etc. Correct?
Correct. Your example of 93-CC is an interesting choice, since not long ago there was a letter to CC from 1893 shown here that scolded them for ordering so many dies.
They used 30 pairs for 1892 and minted 1.3mil.

Using his 16 pairs figure for 650k and 30 for 1.3mil keeps in line. Just used numbers from the other thread as they were comvenient.

The interesting one would be how 8 pairs were used to mint 1.7mil coins in 87 in SF...
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Re: Die Studies

Post by RogerB » Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:07 pm

1. The quantities of dies ordered by other mints is almost irrelevant - only those used in production are important.
2. Reverse dies from the previous year could be reissued by the Engraver.
3. All dies made from the same hub were probably not identical - that is the basis of "die varieties." Every die responded differently to repeated heat treatment and impression from the hub. Sometimes these differences required surface alteration (re-basining) at Philadelphia or another mint. Sometimes heat treatment also resulted in a working die with minute doubling in some spots as a result of repeated blows from the hub.

Anyone who works with steel or other metals understands heat-related expansion and contraction.

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Re: Die Studies

Post by TheYokel » Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:59 pm

RogerB wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:07 pm
3. All dies made from the same hub were probably not identical - that is the basis of "die varieties." Every die responded differently to repeated heat treatment and impression from the hub. Sometimes these differences required surface alteration (re-basining) at Philadelphia or another mint. Sometimes heat treatment also resulted in a working die with minute doubling in some spots as a result of repeated blows from the hub.

Anyone who works with steel or other metals understands heat-related expansion and contraction.

1. The quantities of dies ordered by other mints is almost irrelevant - only those used in production are important.
You are combining/confusing identical dies with identical VAMs. Dies can be slightly different and still constitute the the same Variety. The age-ol' multiple dies may exist.

Edit: to answer #1) Not entirely. All dies* were issued through Philly and an over-all uptick in die usage could show a defect in a metal process at the main mint. If every single mint started using twice as many dies, it could corroborate a main cause...
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Re: Die Studies

Post by RogerB » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:41 pm

RE: #1 I refer to orders not "used." If the steel were deficient, or there were some other systemic defect, use would increase - not just orders. The Engraver's complaint is that Carson and New Orleans (and sometimes San Francisco) ordered more dies than they needed, then returned many unused. This wasted Engraving Dept. time and money. The Engraver assumed a die cost of about $25.

RE: Metal. I refer only to dies, not to "VAMs" "HAMs" "SPAMs' or Buffalo chicken wings. [To my feeble brain, a die pair is a unique variety and all later modifications of the same pair are sub-varieties with or without cute hypocorisms. But, that presumes there is good data on dies used at each mint.]

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Re: Die Studies

Post by RogerB » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:45 pm

Also, I checked my database but I do not have the 1888 die usage/life for San Francisco for 1888. Mint Reports for 1888 and 1889 show dies manufactured only by FY. For SF 1888 80 dies (40 pair) and 1889 20 dies (10 pair). Without the year-end 1888 summary, and accepting the OP's comment about 1 die pair creating more than one VAM variety, the report data are of little help.

:)

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Re: Die Studies

Post by vampicker » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:08 pm

And that reinforces a central point about die studies. There's a lot of erroneous information out there as listings have changed over the years and we've had layers of speculation from people that read a passage of text and pass it off as gospel fact.
What actually exists? What do the coins themselves tell us about what should exist?
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Re: Die Studies

Post by vampicker » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:16 pm

A good example is the aforementioned 93-CC. There are five listed marriages and seriously, it's probably already one too many. They may have ordered 20 pairs of dies, but they damn sure didn't use them. There were more dies used to coin the 89-CC issue and with that one marriage accounts for nearly half the total. Don't guess, study....
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Re: Die Studies

Post by TheYokel » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:23 pm

RogerB wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:41 pm
RE: #1 I refer to orders not "used." If the steel were deficient, or there were some other systemic defect, use would increase - not just orders. The Engraver's complaint is that Carson and New Orleans (and sometimes San Francisco) ordered more dies than they needed, then returned many unused. This wasted Engraving Dept. time and money. The Engraver assumed a die cost of about $25.

RE: Metal. I refer only to dies, not to "VAMs" "HAMs" "SPAMs' or Buffalo chicken wings. [To my feeble brain, a die pair is a unique variety and all later modifications of the same pair are sub-varieties with or without cute hypocorisms. But, that presumes there is good data on dies used at each mint.]
OP was talking about the number of individual Varieties. That's why I'm saying you're talking apples and oranges.
vampicker wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:08 pm
And that reinforces a central point about die studies. There's a lot of erroneous information out there as listings have changed over the years and we've had layers of speculation from people that read a passage of text and pass it off as gospel fact.
What actually exists? What do the coins themselves tell us about what should exist?
That we'll never have a full answer (which is half the fun).

You have series like the 84-S where 13 VAMs covers over 3 million minted coins. By OP's logic that would mean close to 300k strikes per pair. The dies would have been noticeably deteriorating by then... But we dont see it... (Or see the VAM-13 at all... Pics?...)

We'll never know what all has been seen and lumped together as VAM-1, et al, without always looking with fresh eyes to see what may have been missed earlier.

We have waaaaaay more examples and combined knowledge to help with die lineage these days than they did in the 60-70's.

If we didn't challenge conventional thinking once in a while, the earth would still be seen as flat...
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Re: Die Studies

Post by TheYokel » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:28 pm

vampicker wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:16 pm
A good example is the aforementioned 93-CC. There are five listed marriages and seriously, it's probably already one too many. They may have ordered 20 pairs of dies, but they damn sure didn't use them. There were more dies used to coin the 89-CC issue and with that one marriage accounts for nearly half the total. Don't guess, study....
Agreed. Conversely, we have no idea how many different dies were labeled VAM-1. There could have been 10 pairs and 5 VAMs... With multiple VAM-1s assigned... We have no idea...
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Re: Die Studies

Post by LateDateMorganGuy » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:34 pm

I think JR hit the nail on the head. I only used average number of coins per die as an example. I think the 1900-S die useage table showed a few dies close to 500K per die?

But my point is that "new" VAMs get listed when many, many times they are just different die stages or states of previously listed marriages. These become the red-haired step-children listings.

The only way to avoid this is to do die studies, not "VAM discoveries". But I know I am pissing in the wind on this.

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