I received a roll of dimes and noticed the placement of the Mint
marks varies. All of the dimes are from 1946 and 1947.
Some of the Mint marks are up against the torch handle and others
a millimeter or so away. What is the significance of this shift?
sent via email
The effect you noticed on the dimes well illustrates the differing
locations of Mint marks normally found on all circulating coins struck
Show above are close-up photographs courtesy of Coin World
columnist Mike Diamond that demonstrate the moving Mint mark on
Jefferson 5-cent coins. The same concept applies to the dimes you
found. Three different positions that are high, intermediate and low
Mint marks were punched into working dies by hand up until 1990.
For any given series and date, a collector could track down any number
of minutely different Mint mark locations.
In the mid-1980s, Mint officials changed the procedure for placing
the Mint mark on all Proof and commemorative coins. In 1990, the
procedure changed for the circulating cent and 5-cent coin. In 1991,
the changes were implemented for the circulating dime, quarter dollar
and half dollar.
The changes were prompted in part by the discovery of a rash of
Mint mark varieties and errors that proved embarrassing for the U.S.
Mint. From the late 1960s to the 1980s, the Mint produced a number of
Proof error coins, plus a 1982 dime struck for circulation, when dies
lacking a Mint mark were used for production.
To prevent such errors from occurring, Mint marks were added at
earlier design stages rather than as one of the final steps involving
the working die.
The changes to when Mint marks became a part of the design
occurred in stages. Mint marks are now added at the initial model
stage, meaning that a Mint mark is present at every stage of modeling
and die production.
The changes in techniques also resulted in cost and time savings
since thousands of working dies no longer have to be individually
stamped with a Mint mark.
It is not unusual for U.S. coins struck before the 1990s to show
slight differences in Mint mark locations. It is more unusual to find
a coin on which the Mint mark is touching another design element. Mint
engravers normally reject such dies as unacceptable.
Remember, however, that tens of thousands, even hundreds of
thousand of coins can be struck from a single die pair, so such
varieties are not considered rare.
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