This month we take a look at an 1853 Seated Liberty, With Arrows
half dime variety that has proven elusive since the time it was first
publicized in 1999. It is owned by Linda Hagopian of Michigan who
apparently first reported the variety.
I hadn’t seen the coin since 1995 and was pleased to see it
reappear while I was shooting photos at the 51st Suburban Detroit Coin
Show held Jan. 27 to 29 in Livonia, Mich. While the coin sports an
insignificant 8/8 in the date, its most enigmatic feature is a very
clear “dot” below the 5 of the date.
At first glance, one might just write it off as being an unusually
placed random die chip, but under microscopic examination it can
clearly be seen to be an intentionally punched dot; it is circular and
more or less flat-topped as many dots go.
I sent a photo of the coin out to the Al Blythe (now deceased),
author of The Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Half Dimes,
and learned in a May 5, 1996, letter from him that he also had a coin
of the same date and type with a dot that he felt sure was not a
random die chip but an intentional “dot.”
The difference was that the dot on his coin was in the center of
the lower loop of the 8! The mystery grew.
Later I wrote an article on the coin for the April 1999 issue of
the American Numismatist Association’s journal, The
Numismatist, to which Joseph E. Dinardo, New York sculptor,
engraver and minter, responded in a letter and explained his logic for
“As a die engraver it is routine practice to locate specific
positions of numbers or letters on a die. At the mint during the
1840’s and 50’s, a logo type (3 digit punch) was used for the first 3
digits of the date. The last digit was placed singularly as the year
changed. It is my belief that the punching of the last digit in the
year date was placed ‘first’, then the logotype ‘185’ was punched
last. Therefore it was extremely important that the ‘3’ be correctly
placed first,” Dinardo said.
Dinardo went on to describe how by using the stationary point of
the dot with a compass, he arrived at the conclusion that “the ‘dot’
is definitely a point used by the engraver to position the ‘3’ ”
stating further that it (the dot) was deeper than it should have been
and as such was not “stoned or buffed out prior to die hardening.”
But with all that said, it does not explain why no other examples
have been found in the dozen years since I last wrote about this 1853 variety.
Does anybody else have an example or have any theories to add to
this continuing mystery? Dinardo’s complete letter and sketch can be
seen here: http://koinpro.tripod.com/Articles/DinardoLetter.pdf.
Ken Potter attributes U.S. and world doubled dies. He can be
contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit his Educational Image Gallery located at www.koinpro.com.