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A cause of off-center (misaligned) Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 7:44 am
by RogerB
This 1893 letter from Philadelphia Mint Coiner William Steele provides specific insight into one cause of off-center (misaligned) strikes. The press in question, made by Ferracute Company (Oberlin Smith), was used for striking Morgan dollars and double eagles.

Following Mr. Steele's letter is the response from Ferracute.

Mint of the United States at Philadelphia
Coiner’s Office

May 11, 1893
Hon. O. C. Bosbyshell,
Superintendent

Sir:
The thread in the holes in the cast iron head of the Ferracute coining press, where the long bolts run through the arch to hold the upper die, has torn out – this permits the die holder to move about and consequently the die does not strike the center of the planchet. The thread seems to have been too short in length to hold. A new head will have to be furnished and the Ferracute Company had better send here and see what is needed.
Very Respectfully
William Steele,
Coiner


18930513 Ferracute sending longer bold and tap set.jpg
18930513 Ferracute sending longer bold and tap set.jpg (240.68 KiB) Viewed 743 times

Detailed illustrations and information on Ferracute's coinage press are available in Journal of Numismatic Research (JNR), Issue #1 available from Wizard Coin Supply.

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:05 am
by HawkeEye
As always interesting on the workings of the mint. One thing that fascinates me is that they ask him to return a tap and other tools. Either tools were really expensive, transportation cheap, or it required an Act of Congress to requisition additional implements. Or I guess some combination of all this was at play.

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:17 pm
by raynat3
The correspondence appears was between the coiner and the mfg company. The company provided a solution that was different and appears to be less expensive than the request. There was no need for the tools to implement the solution to stay at the mint once the solution was implemented. Suggesting otherwise would be like asking a company representative to leave their tools at the job site once they completed a repair.

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:47 pm
by vampicker
Fascinating exchange. Have to smile at the Victorian era snark in the response, politely coupled with an actual solution

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:27 pm
by vamnuke
:o

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 2:56 pm
by messydesk
"We're busy. Fix it your damn self. It's not like you don't know how. You can borrow our tools. You got a problem wit dat?" (Ferracute was in NJ, after all.)

Of course, there was undoubtedly someone at the mint well-qualified to make the repair. The whole communication timeline is interesting. On the 5/12 Ferracute sent both a letter and an express package to the Mint in response to their letter (cable?) of 5/11. I wonder which arrived first. Today, it looks like it would take just under an hour without traffic to make the 45 mile trip from Bridgeton, NJ, to the Mint. How long in 1893?

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 4:24 pm
by RogerB
Ferracute and other machine manufacturers occasionally made their own custom tools, screw taps and other items. These helped them meet design specifications and discouraged copy-cat manufacturers. The Philadelphia Mint had a very robust machine department. Re-boring and taping a screw (actually two - one on each side of the arch) would have been a quick and simple matter. (There might be more follow-up on this in files I have yet to examine.)

While the press was being produced, Ferracute had a hard time meeting the Mint's requirements. Mint machinists visited several times and each time returned with a list of defects and design flaws.

The JNR issue is about the original Janvier patents (with the complete filing in French and English translation) and Oberlin Smith's Ferracute coin presses, also with the complete patent.

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 5:27 pm
by Longstrider
Very interesting. I love the history I learn here. I also love the English translation @messydesk provides. Thanks all.🐍

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 9:54 pm
by vamsterdam
as usual, someone in government has a screw loose.

Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:05 pm
by RogerB
The press was made by Ferracute Company who were responsible for the "loose screw."

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Re: A cause of off-center Morgan dollars

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2020 2:21 am
by bobbyjenkins
Very interesting. I always enjoyed the history. Thanks.