As a coin is struck, its expansion is abruptly halted by the
When the collar fails to deploy, a coin expands in all directions.
As a result, all off-center strikes and broadstrikes are wider than a
normal coin, to varying degrees.
On some occasions a coin’s expansion is impeded, and the edge
damaged, by machine parts positioned above the collar plate.
The most familiar obstacle to unfettered expansion is the neck of
an adjacent hammer die. In a dual or quad Bliss press (the last of
which was retired in 2005), the close proximity of adjacent die pairs
results in the occasional production of a “sideneck strike,” also
referred to as an “almost saddle strike” or a “one-die saddle strike.”
A typical example is shown here in an off-center Lincoln cent. At
the pole opposite the 1 o’clock position of the obverse face, we see a
deep, concave notch and an associated pressure ridge. The planchet
represented by this coin lay partly within one striking chamber and
almost managed to encroach on the adjacent striking chamber. In other
words, the coin fell just short of becoming a “saddle strike.” When
struck, the expanding die-struck area pushed the unstruck portion
toward the adjacent striking chamber. It collided with the side of the
hammer (obverse) die neck as the latter was striking its own coin.
Sideneck strikes are always concave and always closest to the
adjacent striking chamber. In most years, this chamber would lie along
a line drawn from the 1 o’clock position in Lincoln cents, or the 11
o’clock position in Jefferson 5-cent coins and Roosevelt dimes.
Strike-related edge damage of another kind is seen in an undated
Jefferson 5-cent coin. The pole opposite the off-center strike has a
flat, vertically oriented contact facet. It appears that the facet was
produced when the unstruck portion of the planchet was pushed south by
the expanding die-struck area and collided with a machine part.
Another possibility is that the coin was hit while momentarily
immobilized by the two dies.
In either case, we can’t be sure what machine part was
responsible, although I suspect a feeder finger. I’ve encountered
these flat facets on quite a few off-center and double-struck cents
and 5-cent coins. In each case, the strike is about 70 percent
off-center and the contact facet lies opposite the base of the bust.
The introduction of the Schuler press introduced new types of
strike-related edge damage. This press uses a single die pair, with
the reverse die operating as the hammer die. The damage is primarily
associated with multi-struck coins. A representative example is
provided by a quadruple-struck 5-cent coin. The first strike was
normal. The other strikes were delivered about 20 percent off-center
and are closely spaced. Edge damage is present on both the right and
left sides. The contact facet on the right side is convex, slightly
beveled, and extends from 12 o’clock to 2:30.
The dies evidently struck whatever machine part rested against the
coin. On the left side the coin buckled when it collided with a hard
object. The contact facet here is quite compact and lies next to the w
of we. It’s possible that the coin was pushed laterally into an
obstruction by expansion produced by the off-center strikes. It’s also
possible that an object hit the coin as the latter was temporarily
immobilized between the dies.
This type of edge damage can be found on numerous multi-struck
cents, 5-cent coins, and Washington quarter dollars struck by Schuler
presses. The pattern is consistent, although the long facet and the
short facet can be located on either the right or the left side.
The affected coins all show a sequence of strikes involving a
normal (or at least centered) first strike, and one or more closely
spaced off-center strikes. Coins in which the off-center strikes are
widely spaced or erratically positioned typically do not show this
edge damage. The long facet that hugs the edge of the off-center
strikes is almost certainly caused by contact with a feeder finger.
I’m not sure about the short facet.
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