Making early Morgan proof coins

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RogerB
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Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by RogerB » Thu Feb 24, 2022 10:45 pm

This will be a quick and painless vaccination against numismatic bologna.

The Philadelphia Mint had a large screw-type (“lever”) press used to strike medals and proof coins. “We use a screw press which strikes medals from 10/16-inch to 4-inch in diameter, which has 3 threads with a pitch of 1-5/16-inch; 6-1/2 inch diameter of screw, and length of lever 15 feet with 300 lb balls on each end [1886].” No other mint had screw presses and no branch mint had ever had them. This press was used to make Master coins and proofs from the 1840s to 1893.

The press took three men to operate. One placed the planchet on the lower (fixed) die and the other two swung the 15-foot lever, attempting to use the same strength each time. Striking pressure was varied by reducing the weights, or positioning them further toward the central screw, or adding/removing a spacer below the lower die to change the distance the upper die moved.

After each strike, the operator who placed the planchet removed the coin and added it to a flat tray lined with paper or sometimes cotton-lined paper. This was periodically collected by the Medal Clerk or an assistant, for inspection and sorting.

Coins which were deficient in polish or included minor blemishes were put aside and later mixed with normal toggle press pieces. Defective coins, i.e., ones that would be rejected during normal circulation coinage, were delivered back to the M&R. Good proofs were placed on trays and packaged just before delivery. Packaging was similar to medals: cotton-lined envelopes, when available.

Most proofs were sold at the Philadelphia Mint by the Treasurer or later the Cashier, who received them from the Chief Coiner or Medal Clerk.

Finis.

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HawkeEye
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by HawkeEye » Fri Feb 25, 2022 10:18 pm

Interesting as always
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shortnock
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by shortnock » Fri Feb 25, 2022 11:05 pm

Thanks for your dedication to the studies.
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Tekkie1
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by Tekkie1 » Fri Feb 25, 2022 11:27 pm

Nice Read, thanks.

blh74
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by blh74 » Sat Feb 26, 2022 12:47 am

Thanks Roger for your research.

RogerB
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by RogerB » Sat Feb 26, 2022 1:21 am

I hope this will give collectors a practical perspective of proof coin production beyond the usual superficial comments about "polishing dies."

There is a two-part article scheduled for The Numismatist NEXT January-February describing the different ways Master and proof coins were made in the US. This breaks down the processes by coinage era, methodology and technology. The article will help collectors and dealers use the correct names for coins of various eras and better comprehend what was intended at the time they were produced -- not by today's very different standards.

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SilverToken
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by SilverToken » Sat Feb 26, 2022 1:09 pm

I wonder how much the 3 men were paid per hour, to make a dollar, not to mention there had to be a trained grader!
When it's no longer fun, I think I'm done!

RogerB
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by RogerB » Sat Feb 26, 2022 4:36 pm

During the latter 19th century pay for unskilled workmen was $2.25 to $3.25 per day but most were on the low end. Six work days in a week, but Saturday afternoon was called a "holiday," and the workers paid for a full day. The female employees were paid $1.75 even when they did identical work as men, such as counting. Here's a sample page from the 1879 Register of the United States.
Pages from 1879 Mint Employees Register.jpg
Pages from 1879 Mint Employees Register.jpg (254.78 KiB) Viewed 902 times

RogerB
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by RogerB » Sun Feb 27, 2022 6:27 pm

Here's an example of a hiring notice from December 29, 1880. Notice the pay of $1.90 per diem.
Pages from 18801229 P Transfers and pay changes.jpg
Pages from 18801229 P Transfers and pay changes.jpg (144.26 KiB) Viewed 883 times
Last edited by RogerB on Mon Feb 28, 2022 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PacificWR
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by PacificWR » Sun Feb 27, 2022 10:35 pm

Good info.

PickNGrin
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Re: Making early Morgan proof coins

Post by PickNGrin » Mon Feb 28, 2022 11:31 am

Interesting Details.

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