Third misalignment pattern emerges from Virginia quarter dollar series run

Collector's Clearinghouse column from the May, 18, 2015, issue of Coin World
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 04/30/15
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Twice previously in this column, I’ve discussed a highly productive run of 2000-P Virginia quarter dollars noteworthy for the variety and severity of its die alignment errors and off-center strikes.

Three major patterns were identified. Each pattern is well-represented within the total output (probably hundreds of coins) and my personal sample of 13. These errors are distributed among six die stages (A to F), each of which is defined by a steadily growing roster of die scratches and tiny die dents. The abundance of die stages indicates that debris continued to infiltrate the striking chamber throughout this press run.

Pattern 1 is a fairly severe horizontal misalignment of the reverse (hammer) die. The direction of the misalignment varies slightly, shifting between 6:30 and 7:00. In all examples, including my sample of three, the magnitude of the misalignment hovers around 10 percent. None of these coins was struck completely within the collar. Some feature a full, 360 degree partial collar, while in others collar contact isn’t quite as complete. Pattern 1 coins occur in die stages E and F, although I suspect they’re more broadly distributed.

Pattern 2 is a horizontal misalignment of the obverse (anvil) die (see photo). The direction of the misalignment also varies slightly, fluctuating between 5:00 and 6:00. Since the clock positions on both faces line up fairly well in vertical space, it’s evident that the opposing misalignments are oriented along a common axis. The magnitude of the anvil die misalignment ranges from slight to an impressive 10 percent.

Coins struck by a horizontally misaligned anvil die must be broadstruck, as the surrounding collar must also be misaligned. Such is the case for Pattern 2 coins, although small areas of collar contact appear at roughly 2:30 and 8:30. Pattern 2 coins appear in die stages A, B, C, D, and F (sample size totals six).

Pattern 3 is a conventional off-center strike, with the planchet misfeed pointing toward 1:00, which places it along the same axis as the obverse and reverse misalignments. These off-center strikes often show a slight horizontal misalignment of the hammer die toward the southwest (the Pattern 1 clock position). Pattern 3 coins occur in die stages A, E, and F, and probably every intervening die stage (sample size totals three).

It’s significant that both dies show the serrated collar clash characteristic of reeded issues, with the collar clash strongest on the anvil die. Collar clash is seldom found on the anvil die, and strong examples are extremely rare. It requires the anvil die neck to either grind steadily against the collar’s ridges or smash violently against the collar’s working face. I suspect the latter occurred, since such an impact can cause the collar to break free of its moorings, producing the observed horizontal misalignment.

A few months ago I came across a fourth error pattern in a broadstruck example. It displays a horizontal misalignment on both faces, with each misalignment pointing in a different direction. This coin also documents a seventh die stage (Stage G), and was therefore produced at the very end of the press run.

On the reverse face, a moderately strong misalignment points toward 4:30. On the obverse face, an equally strong misalignment points toward 4:00. In vertical space the two axes are nearly at right angles to each other and both deviate significantly from the axis that defines the Pattern 1 and 2 misalignments.

Three moving components must be considered in evaluating this error — an unstable hammer die, an unstable anvil die (and collar), and an unconfined planchet. The relative contributions of the three components cannot be isolated, but it appears that the out-of-control press had abandoned the axis of motion that had previously characterized the three shifting componentsTwice previously in this column, I’ve discussed a highly productive run of 2000-P Virginia quarter dollars noteworthy for the variety and severity of its die alignment errors and off-center strikes.

Three major patterns were identified. Each pattern is well-represented within the total output (probably hundreds of coins) and my personal sample of 13. These errors are distributed among six die stages (A to F), each of which is defined by a steadily growing roster of die scratches and tiny die dents. The abundance of die stages indicates that debris continued to infiltrate the striking chamber throughout this press run.

Pattern 1 is a fairly severe horizontal misalignment of the reverse (hammer) die. The direction of the misalignment varies slightly, shifting between 6:30 and 7:00. In all examples, including my sample of three, the magnitude of the misalignment hovers around 10 percent. None of these coins was struck completely within the collar. Some feature a full, 360 degree partial collar, while in others collar contact isn’t quite as complete. Pattern 1 coins occur in die stages E and F, although I suspect they’re more broadly distributed.

Pattern 2 is a horizontal misalignment of the obverse (anvil) die (see photo). The direction of the misalignment also varies slightly, fluctuating between 5:00 and 6:00. Since the clock positions on both faces line up fairly well in vertical space, it’s evident that the opposing misalignments are oriented along a common axis. The magnitude of the anvil die misalignment ranges from slight to an impressive 10 percent.

Coins struck by a horizontally misaligned anvil die must be broadstruck, as the surrounding collar must also be misaligned. Such is the case for Pattern 2 coins, although small areas of collar contact appear at roughly 2:30 and 8:30. Pattern 2 coins appear in die stages A, B, C, D, and F (sample size totals six).

Pattern 3 is a conventional off-center strike, with the planchet misfeed pointing toward 1:00, which places it along the same axis as the obverse and reverse misalignments. These off-center strikes often show a slight horizontal misalignment of the hammer die toward the southwest (the Pattern 1 clock position). Pattern 3 coins occur in die stages A, E, and F, and probably every intervening die stage (sample size totals three).

It’s significant that both dies show the serrated collar clash characteristic of reeded issues, with the collar clash strongest on the anvil die. Collar clash is seldom found on the anvil die, and strong examples are extremely rare. It requires the anvil die neck to either grind steadily against the collar’s ridges or smash violently against the collar’s working face. I suspect the latter occurred, since such an impact can cause the collar to break free of its moorings, producing the observed horizontal misalignment.

A few months ago I came across a fourth error pattern in a broadstruck example. It displays a horizontal misalignment on both faces, with each misalignment pointing in a different direction. This coin also documents a seventh die stage (Stage G), and was therefore produced at the very end of the press run.

On the reverse face, a moderately strong misalignment points toward 4:30. On the obverse face, an equally strong misalignment points toward 4:00. In vertical space the two axes are nearly at right angles to each other and both deviate significantly from the axis that defines the Pattern 1 and 2 misalignments.

Three moving components must be considered in evaluating this error — an unstable hammer die, an unstable anvil die (and collar), and an unconfined planchet. The relative contributions of the three components cannot be isolated, but it appears that the out-of-control press had abandoned the axis of motion that had previously characterized the three shifting components.

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