1900 O/CC Speculation

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RogerB
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1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by RogerB » Sat Dec 21, 2019 7:34 pm

Rapid cracking of silver dollars dies had been a problem at the New Orleans Mint for several years. This letter, from January 1900, led to temporary assignment of Albert W. Downing from Philadelphia. Downing, Foreman of the Philadelphia Mint Coining Room and an experienced machinist, was given the task of finding out why New Orleans had persistently poor die life.

After investigation and tests, Downing determined that the New Orleans Mint annealing furnace could not properly soften the quantity of planchets required to meet production quotas. The hard planchets required excessive pressure to bring up the design, and that cracked dies prematurely.

Die cracks are common on Morgan dollars, so why is this of interest? Downing’s visit is unusual and there exists the possibility that he brought with him silver dollars dies prepared and intended for experimentation – possibly the O/CC reverse dies. For now, this is speculation – a theory if you wish – but more information might be discovered as digitization progresses.
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DHalladay
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by DHalladay » Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:29 pm

This is great stuff Roger! Learning well over a century afterward, how some of our VAMs may have come into existence is tremendously fun.
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colwillys
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by colwillys » Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:53 pm

Great recourse work Roger .I for one would like more and some reports on the Peace dollars.. 1925-S .
This is way more way Vamming becomes more Fun . My old computer does not bring up the reports were I can
read them.. Thank-You Roger you SICK .. Outstanding love it.

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TheYokel
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by TheYokel » Sat Dec 21, 2019 9:02 pm

Carson City was officially closed in June of 1899. They stopped producing coins in 93, but didn't lose the official designation until 99. Makes sense they had a few CC reverses laying around in the interim in case the mint was needed for production.

After CC closed on July 1 of 1899, they re-purposed the reverse dies to meet demand for the failing NO dies.

No super secret experimentation needed to explain it, really...
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messydesk
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by messydesk » Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:15 pm

It's always neat when you can match up documentation with coins referred to. The first one that came to mind was the 1900-O VAM 25B, because I see it a lot. Cracks around the tops of the letters, lots of die erosion from planchets that were too hard and dies run too long.
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vampicker
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by vampicker » Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:46 pm

It's highly likely that this is exactly the reason the 'leftovers' found in Carson City ended up in New Orleans. Doesn't even require any sort of experimentation, just an almost instantly available supply to meet the greatest demand. Cool back story...
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RogerB
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by RogerB » Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:48 am

If die records for the Engraving Department existed, it might be possible to match left-over CC dies to those sent to New Orleans - every die was tracked even when it was renumbered. But those records seem to be missing. We have to work with what is available, and do what is possible to gradually increase the quantity and access to original documents. (This is only about 1/3 of the potential sources within US Mint archives.)

Letters listing the first 1900-O dies shipped are among the files in boxes 106-108. Those are probably the ones referred to by Boothby.

I am slowly - very slowly - digitizing the boxes of letters received for late 1899 and all of 1900 into early 1901. We know nothing about the contents of these boxes except the most general information. For example, I learned yesterday that the US Mint was actively considering a formal apprentice program for future Mint employees. When this idea started and its outcome are presently unknown.

The huge volume of material available means that collectors will have to do their own searching via NNP. I can provide guidance, but not direct research.

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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by RogerB » Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:52 am

RE: "Carson City was officially closed in June of 1899. They stopped producing coins in 93, but didn't lose the official designation until 99. Makes sense they had a few CC reverses laying around in the interim in case the mint was needed for production."

Once the Carson Mint was decommissioned in 1893 it was never intended to produce coins again, and some equipment was shipped out within weeks. An inventory was offered to the other mints so they could reserve machinery and materials. However, it was officially referred to as "mint" for many years, which likely made the good citizens of Carson, Nevada feel better.

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TheYokel
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by TheYokel » Sun Dec 22, 2019 1:49 am

RogerB wrote:
Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:52 am
RE: "Carson City was officially closed in June of 1899. They stopped producing coins in 93, but didn't lose the official designation until 99. Makes sense they had a few CC reverses laying around in the interim in case the mint was needed for production."

Once the Carson Mint was decommissioned in 1893 it was never intended to produce coins again, and some equipment was shipped out within weeks. An inventory was offered to the other mints so they could reserve machinery and materials. However, it was officially referred to as "mint" for many years, which likely made the good citizens of Carson, Nevada feel better.
Yes, but they still retained some equipment and such until it officially closed. The #1 press is still in the building now...

And the dies weren't methodically catalogued and accounted for after it closed. Very few, if any, were. Morgans may have been the exception. Heck they were legit digging dies out of the ground back in 2016... They just X'd out the face and trash binned and buried most of the stuff from the mint. They only kept what was needed elsewhere.

Only what... 6 O/CC die pairs are known? Just as likely, they saved a few dies in case of commemorative minting or emergency purposes, same reason they saved Press #1. The place was still open, officially, after-all.

When it officially closed in 1899, they knew they'd never use em and just re-punched them for service elsewhere. Occums Razor for this one...
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alefzero
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by alefzero » Sun Dec 22, 2019 2:00 am

One invetigation I have wanted to undertake for years, but will likely never have the time is whether the O/CC reverse dies were, in fact, previously used to strike CC dollars. Once would need each well struck, early strike O/CC VAM reverse in hand in high grade and as many possible high grade CC dollars of every VAM possible. While the dies were likely repolished, finding good markers in hidden areas might correlate to the same that survived to O/CC strikes. 1893-CC is naturally the first to investigate, but not necessarily the only year. The Panic of 1893, the low mintage and incomplete minting year make it a prime target for barely used dies to ship years later. CC, being so remote and a third thought at best for Philadelphia, is also a prime candidate for die reuse over different years.

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TheYokel
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by TheYokel » Sun Dec 22, 2019 2:14 am

alefzero wrote:
Sun Dec 22, 2019 2:00 am
One invetigation I have wanted to undertake for years, but will likely never have the time is whether the O/CC reverse dies were, in fact, previously used to strike CC dollars. Once would need each well struck, early strike O/CC VAM reverse in hand in high grade and as many possible high grade CC dollars of every VAM possible. While the dies were likely repolished, finding good markers in hidden areas might correlate to the same that survived to O/CC strikes. 1893-CC is naturally the first to investigate, but not necessarily the only year. The Panic of 1893, the low mintage and incomplete minting year make it a prime target for barely used dies to ship years later. CC, being so remote and a third thought at best for Philadelphia, is also a prime candidate for die reuse over different years.
Oddly enough, CC produced almost as many Morgans as every other mint combined in 1893. The fact they only used 5 pairs is a testament to how much better they treated their dies than others. I would guess they were unused altogether before being repunched.

The really weird orientation punched on some of the CC mint marks seen on the O/CC may be the reason they didn't want to use them unless necessary originally.
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TheYokel
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by TheYokel » Sun Dec 22, 2019 2:20 am

RogerB wrote:
Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:48 am
If die records for the Engraving Department existed, it might be possible to match left-over CC dies to those sent to New Orleans - every die was tracked even when it was renumbered. But those records seem to be missing. We have to work with what is available, and do what is possible to gradually increase the quantity and access to original documents. (This is only about 1/3 of the potential sources within US Mint archives.)

Letters listing the first 1900-O dies shipped are among the files in boxes 106-108. Those are probably the ones referred to by Boothby.

I am slowly - very slowly - digitizing the boxes of letters received for late 1899 and all of 1900 into early 1901. We know nothing about the contents of these boxes except the most general information. For example, I learned yesterday that the US Mint was actively considering a formal apprentice program for future Mint employees. When this idea started and its outcome are presently unknown.

The huge volume of material available means that collectors will have to do their own searching via NNP. I can provide guidance, but not direct research.
https://mcindependentnews.com/2016/12/c ... uncovered/

They uncovered more than 500 working dies, including silver dollars. Knowing the scarce amount of dies used by the CC Mint, I'm doubting you ever find those shipping records.

They got buried. :(
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RogerB
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by RogerB » Sun Dec 22, 2019 7:43 pm

The US Mint Engraving Department kept meticulous die records. Calendar year closeout and annual settlement at the end of the FY were definitive accounting processes. That used dies did not have to be sent back to Philadelphia in every year, or that some were buried near the Carson Mint does not mean they had not been accounted for and tracked as condemned dies.

RE: "And the dies weren't methodically catalogued and accounted for after it closed."
Incorrect. Working dies for 1893 were among the first items shipped back to Philadelphia, along with gold to San Francisco and minting tools. Die records would show if there were new or used dies, when they were used, and when they were re-purposed ( if that happened). There are also extensive inventories from 1893 and several later years detailing property of the Carson Mint - right down to pencils and spittoons. Much ordinary material was scrapped locally due to the high cost of transportation, but excess equipment and supplies were offered to the other Mints and Assay Offices.

All the presses, including the large Ajax, were sent to New Orleans, which was expected to absorb any possible Carson coinage deficit. The press currently in the Carson museum was not the first press used for coinage - it was simply arbitrarily designated "Press No. 1." Other mints did similar things and the press numbers changed when they were moved or converted from belt to motor drive. Numbering equipment (press No. 1, lathe No.4, etc.) made tracking maintenance easier, that is all.

For the information of members, all Mints and Assay Offices maintained a detailed inventory of furniture and fixtures, in addition to inventories for equipment, supplies and miscellaneous items, plus the rolling inventory of dies, collars, basins, knurls and other items supplied from Philadelphia. (See NARA RG10-4 Entry 211-E, etc.)

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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by RogerB » Sun Dec 22, 2019 7:45 pm

As for Carson's handling of dies and efficiency in use, it varied with the attention and knowledge of Mint personnel. The letter below is typical of complaints in the latter years of coinage operation.
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vampicker
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by vampicker » Sun Dec 22, 2019 7:54 pm

Sounds like a Victorian era mike drop
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TheYokel
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by TheYokel » Sun Dec 22, 2019 9:12 pm

The letter actually agrees with what I said about CC's die usage. They only used 10 pairs in 1892. There are 5 VAMs from 1893-CC and 6 from the 1900 O/CC series. Your math is adding up to exactly what I'm speculating... The 5 working dies that had already been put into use in 1893 were destroyed and buried. The other 6 were kept in Philly as "just in case" reverses until the mint officially closed in 1899. Then they were repurposed.

I never said you wouldn't find accounting records for what was used, I'm saying you probably won't find the shipping records from CC to NO with any Morgan dies. New Orleans dies that were stored usually pitted very quickly. Many dies from the year they were received already rusted in the first year. If New Orleans sat on the six CC dies for 7 years until they were allowed to use them in 1900... Those things wouldn't be recognizable... I'm betting they were held in Philly and sent out in 1900...

And as an aside, accounting records doesn't mean you're getting an accurate number. Horatio sent many many letters about missing dies. It was already known many discrepancies in the die accountings were off. I think Messy posted a letter about die numbers not adding up a few months ago.

Your original speculation was that experimental dies were taken to New Orleans in 1900. Mine was that the six unused CC reverses were stored in Philly until 1899...

Oh, and CC would keep sending gold out to SF for the next 40 years... I'm not sure what that has to do with shipping records? Carson City remained an assay office for gold and silver coming out of nevada/cali until 1933... And it still has Press #1... Nomenclature is irrelevant.
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shortnock
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by shortnock » Sun Dec 22, 2019 9:15 pm

Roger B. You are the man. Your findings are enjoyable to read. You are sick.
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by shortnock » Sun Dec 22, 2019 9:16 pm

Roger B. That is to say...you do sick.
Refrain from computing the total number of poultry... before the process of incubation has fully materialized.

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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by messydesk » Sun Dec 22, 2019 9:34 pm

vampicker wrote:
Sun Dec 22, 2019 7:54 pm
Sounds like a Victorian era mike drop
A respectfully submitted smackdown.
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alefzero
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Re: 1900 O/CC Speculation

Post by alefzero » Sun Dec 22, 2019 10:21 pm

Very cool that they were so meticulous. Leaves no stone unturned.

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