1879-S Rev of 1878

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RogerB
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1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by RogerB » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:53 pm

The following letter might help explain the differences between early and later 1879-S Morgan dollars, especially in thickness.

January 17, 1879
Hon. James Pollock
Superintendent
U.S. Mint
Philadelphia

Sir:
Of your order of January 17 for 24 obverse and 24 reverse standard dollar dies, the 24 reverse most wanted shall be shipped to San Francisco tomorrow the 18th.

On the subject of their complaint of the higher of the pile of 20 coins, I would observe that there has been no alteration in the dies since they were approved of, and we have tried this morning coins of 1878 and of 1879, in piles of 20, and they were quite equal, in height; and if they will use any dies sent them in response to their order of October 25 for the year 1879 they will find the same result.

I respectfully suggest, it is possible they may have used some reverse die sent in the early part of the year 1878, before the coin was finally approved of, and working this paired with an obverse sent for 1879 may have caused the difference.
Very respectfully yours,
William Barber, Engraver


[RG104 E-1 Box 115]

vamnuke
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by vamnuke » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:58 pm

Neat letter. Thanks for sharing. B reverse dollar design has always been my favorite.

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messydesk
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by messydesk » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:40 pm

Cool letter. We know that there are some dies from 1878 that they kept using in 1879, because there are coins bearing each date that share a reverse die. Do we know what they were instructed to do with reverse dies on hand, if anything, after receiving those requested on October 25?
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RogerB
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by RogerB » Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:25 am

I will continue checking for follow-up. My suspicion is that on receipt of this letter, the SF Mint pulled all reverse dies received in 1878. If correct, that places the Rev 78 coins within the first 3 weeks of January 1879.

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messydesk
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by messydesk » Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:48 am

RogerB wrote:
Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:25 am
I will continue checking for follow-up. My suspicion is that on receipt of this letter, the SF Mint pulled all reverse dies received in 1878. If correct, that places the Rev 78 coins within the first 3 weeks of January 1879.
That adds up about right. 6 reverse dies used with 12 (?) obverse dies, some of which were used with Rev. of 79 dies. 9 die pairs (using the mint's accounting for dies) worth of coins at a wet-finger estimate of 130,000 coins per die pair would be 1,170,000 coins, or about 3 weeks of production assuming they were constantly making dollars in January.
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RogerB
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by RogerB » Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:03 am

Here is San Francisco's coin production by day for January 1879. The column labeled "Trade Dollars" (right page) shows the quantities of Standard Silver Dollars delivered, not Trade dollars. "Trade" is crossed out on later months. Gold coins are on the left, silver on the right.
1879-S January.jpg
1879-S January.jpg (93.39 KiB) Viewed 571 times
January's Morgan dollar production (deliveries) was 922,000 SSD for Jan. 2 - 20, inclusive. No more were made until Feb. 2 when 60,000 were delivered. Manufacture was paused until the 6th. By the end of Feb. 958,000 SSD had been delivered. This agrees with messydesk's "3 week" production time for 1878 reverse dies and is pretty good for his ballpark quantity.

Going by previous reporting routine, all of the coins reported for January were made and delivered that month with limited carry-forward to Feb. 2 (i.e.: less than 1,000 pieces).

vamnuke
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by vamnuke » Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:59 am

Good stuff!

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impairedsquirrel
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by impairedsquirrel » Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:58 pm

I wonder if the stop/start between Jan.-Feb. was someone, on one end or the other, saying don't make any more dollars until the new dies arrive? I think it's interesting that, as far as I know, none of the rev. 78 VAMs have die breaks... does that mean they were all still "viable" dies when they were taken out of service?
I go totally NUTS for WOW! VAMs!! Or is that from WOW! VAMs?

RogerB
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by RogerB » Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:57 pm

impairedsquirrel wrote:
Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:58 pm
I wonder if the stop/start between Jan.-Feb. was someone, on one end or the other, saying don't make any more dollars until the new dies arrive? I think it's interesting that, as far as I know, none of the rev. 78 VAMs have die breaks... does that mean they were all still "viable" dies when they were taken out of service?
Very likely. The same kind of production "gap" occurs in 1909 VDB cents and other denominations where significant die changes were made.

Stack height was very important in an age when manual counting was universal: Count 10 dollars, stack them, then make piles the same height (don't count coins)....much faster than counting each pile.

vamsterdam
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by vamsterdam » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:59 pm

so, is this letter of barber's saying the idea of different heights in stacks of r78 vs r79 is a myth?

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vampicker
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by vampicker » Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:54 pm

Didn't have 20 raw 79-S Rev of 78 pieces in AU/MS condition laying around but here is a side by side of stacks of twenty. An assortment of dollars with the Rev of 78 is on the left. As you can see the difference is slight.
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78-sLongnock
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by 78-sLongnock » Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:07 pm

Do you have access for the SF mint for the following Days and months April, May & June in 1878?
Please target the morgan Dollar for those months
Thanks

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vampicker
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by vampicker » Tue Oct 13, 2020 5:35 pm

Here's the volume I think you're looking for

https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/542182
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vamsterdam
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by vamsterdam » Wed Oct 14, 2020 4:50 pm

i'd love to see stacks of bu 1879s r78 and r79 side by side. i would bet there is a more notable difference.

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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by vamsterdam » Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:43 pm

the basis for the book that i have been working on for eons is based on the research that i have done, which shows quite a few dies that were severely overpolished(for no apparent reason until JR found the article in the whitman journal from 1964 saying they were having problems with the relief of the new dies). some dies were polished(ground down) again and again with no evidence of clashes, cracks, chips, or gouges. and multiple dies were "retouched" using an apparent acidic compound(i challenge anyone to disprove this). look at the evidence and tell me how it happened, and what was used to create these effects. see 1879s v16a, v1e, v80, v95, v68, or 1878s v49, 50, 76, 81 just to name a few.

vamsterdam
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by vamsterdam » Fri Oct 16, 2020 3:48 pm

and quite a few of these show being struck before be mated with reverse of 1878 dies. vam 104, and vam 110 were struck before vam 66. i forgot where bam 86 was in the sequence. same for vam 16a, v83, and v57, being mated with vam 34b, v77, v77a, and the other one that Leroy won't list until i find a higher grade. there are others that raise lots of questions.

RogerB
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by RogerB » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:25 pm

vamsterdam wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:59 pm
so, is this letter of barber's saying the idea of different heights in stacks of r78 vs r79 is a myth?
No. Barber was suggesting that SF had been using the older dies in early 1879, and that accounted for a nearly 1-coin height difference.

A small difference in piling height was important. Coins were counted by making one stack of known content - say 20 pieces - then making other piles the same height. The wooden counting boards used by the Mint and Treasury worked on the same principle.

If coins of different mints or different years stacked to unequal heights, then every stack had to be physically counted. The results of uneven stacking are occasionally seen in complaints to the Mints. Bags of 1,000 silver dollars might be over or under by one or two coins, and that created an exchange of letters and minor investigations to correct the shipment. Smaller denomination coins had less tolerance for height error. The early 1916 Mercury dimes had a slight fin, and this caused major problems when counting coins of mixed years. AT&T had to separate Barber and Mercury dimes to get reliable counts.

RogerB
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Re: 1879-S Rev of 1878

Post by RogerB » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:34 pm

vampicker wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:54 pm
Didn't have 20 raw 79-S Rev of 78 pieces in AU/MS condition laying around but here is a side by side of stacks of twenty. An assortment of dollars with the Rev of 78 is on the left. As you can see the difference is slight.
The height difference seems slight, maybe 1/3-of a coin, but as mentioned above, it was important. Here is a letter from the same train of correspondence that helps illustrate piling height. I should add that the mints nearly always worked with new coins.
18790128 P Sends height of coin piles_Page_1.jpg
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