In the March 19 Collectors’ Clearinghouse column, I reported on a
deeply cupped 1978 Canadian cent allegedly struck by two reverse dies.
Considered unique at the time, it now has a companion.
After my column came out, I was contacted by Jeff Chapman who sent
me photos of a nearly identical example that was struck in 1968.
The presence of this second specimen further undermines the idea
that either cent represents a two-tailed mule. Chapman’s cent is
almost certainly a pseudo-mule that was produced under one of three
scenarios described in my earlier column.
1. A cent is struck normally, flips over, and lands on top of
another planchet, with the Maple Leaf design facing the planchet. A
second strike flattens the original maple leaf design but does not
erase it, while the hammer die obliterates the queen’s bust and
simultaneously imparts the second Maple Leaf design.
2. Two planchets are struck together within the collar, creating
two in-collar uniface strikes. The top coin flips over and comes to
rest on the same blank surface or on top of a fresh planchet. The next
strike flattens the original Maple Leaf design, while the original
featureless surface is struck by the hammer die, which imparts the
second Maple Leaf design.
3. A cent sporting an in-collar first-strike brockage of the Maple
Leaf design on its bottom face flips over and comes to rest on the
anvil die. Another planchet is inserted on top of the brockaged coin
and is struck into it. The bottom face of that newly-struck coin
carries a first-strike counterbrockage of the Maple Leaf design.
The second scenario would seem to be the most likely explanation
for both the 1968 and 1978 cents.
Interestingly, when the 1968 cent was encapsulated by Professional
Coin Grading Service, it was provided with a diagnosis entirely
different from the 1978 cent. Instead of claiming it was a “die cap
struck by two reverse dies,” PCGS described it as an “obverse die cap
with reverse counterbrockage.”
It seems PCGS may have entertained a pseudo-mule hypothesis of its
own, similar to the third scenario. It’s hard to say for sure, as the
description is rather muddled. Chapman’s coin obviously cannot be an
obverse die cap, since it is the reverse design that decorates the
inside of the cup.
Perhaps PCGS meant to call it a reverse die cap. Maybe the grading
service was confused in thinking that the Maple Leaf design is on the
obverse face. Or perhaps PCGS conflated the hammer die with the
obverse die for the cent.
Identifying it as a die cap is easier to understand, but even this
claim can be disputed. Effective striking pressure is greatly
increased when two discs are stacked on top of each other. If both
discs are struck out-of-collar, the top coin will curl up to surround
the neck of the hammer die (see the Dec. 7, 2009, Collectors’
Clearinghouse). Only one strike is needed to form an impressive cup.
While the third scenario requires only one strike, scenarios 1 and
2 require two. But since the coin has to flip over between strikes, we
still can’t consider the resulting coin a die cap. By definition, a
die cap has to be affixed to the same die face through both strikes.
It seems unlikely that the flattened Maple Leaf design on either
cent is a flipover, first-strike counterbrockage. Even under carefully
managed conditions, the peripheral portions of any first-strike
counterbrockage should be closer to the coin’s edge, and might even
run off the edge of the coin.
While I haven’t encountered any cupped pseudo-mules among U.S.
coins, I have seen coins that were almost certainly struck by them.
Shown here is a Lincoln cent with a perfectly centered, mid-stage
flipover brockage of the obverse design on the obverse face. Struck
in-collar, it was generated by a “two-headed” pseudo-mule most likely
produced under the first scenario. In this case the pseudo-mule
definitely became a die cap.
The next specimen is a massively expanded, broadstruck 5-cent coin
with an almost perfectly centered flipover brockage of the obverse
design on the obverse face. Although faint, the incuse design is
complete, establishing it as a first-strike brockage. The strike that
generated the brockage also undoubtedly converted the overlying 5-cent
coin into a two-headed pseudo-mule (scenario No. 1).
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