Canadian cent combines tilted die with multiple brockages

Published : 06/08/13
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This week’s column dissects a Canadian cent that combines two unusual striking errors, a tilted die error (vertical misalignment) on the reverse face and multiple overlapping brockages on the obverse face.

Slightly out-of-round, this cent was apparently struck out of collar and carries no date. However, its weight (2.5 grams) matches the 12-sided copper-alloy cents produced from 1982 to 1996. The coin shows moderate wear consistent with prolonged circulation or use as a pocket piece.

As is true of all Canadian coins produced since the early part of the 20th century, the reverse face (carrying the Maple Leaf design) was struck by the hammer die. On this piece, only about one-third of the reverse design is present. It occupies a die-struck oval on the upper right side and includes the right maple leaf, the ENT of CENT and the designer’s initials (KG).

The design is incomplete because the reverse (hammer) die struck the planchet at an angle of perhaps 10 degrees. The die’s downward-tilted pole was located at approximately 2:00 (reverse clock position). This tilt may reflect the presence of a loose die, a loose or tilted die assembly, or a die neck or die shaft that had snapped in two.

Instability in the strike is further documented by very strong machine doubling (push doubling subtype) on the right side of the maple leaf. After reaching the lowest point of its downstroke, the hammer die bounced up shifted to the right, and landed lightly on the newly struck design, flattening its margins.

Tilted die errors of this magnitude are always accompanied by a horizontal misalignment. As a die tilts down at one pole it will also swing inward at the same pole, unless there is compensatory lateral movement of the die or die assembly. In this example the design rim is shifted medially toward the southwest and lies about 2 millimeters from the planchet’s proto-rim. This is consistent with a horizontal misalignment, but proving such a misalignment was present or establishing its extent is problematical. Without evidence of collar contact or die-struck design elements on the opposite face we cannot establish whether the planchet itself was centered or off-center.

The obverse face (struck by the anvil die) carries three or more overlapping brockages of the reverse design. The clearest, most extensive brockage consists of an incuse, mirror-image version of CENT and the adjacent row of beads. The incuse CENT is not aligned with the die-struck CENT on the opposite face. A second brockage consists of the stem of the maple branch and the adjacent lower right lobe of the maple leaf. These elements show close doubling. Additional scattered incuse elements appear to include the denomination’s numeral 1 and irregular leaf-like features.

I’m not entirely sure that the brockages were generated by a multistruck cent planchet. It’s conceivable that a multistruck machine part or piece of hardware, like a feeder finger, functioned as the brockage-maker. I cannot readily reconstruct the sequence of strikes delivered to the brockage-maker nor can I determine whether any of those strikes were delivered at an angle.

The brockages show no expansion, which points to yet another malfunction. Assuming normal ram pressure and normal minimum die clearance, a tilted die will deliver an exceptionally powerful impact at its downward-tilted pole because the striking pressure would be concentrated there. This would leave any brockage (and brockage-maker) locally flattened and expanded. The absence of any flattening or distortion of the brockage would indicate that the overall strike was weaker than normal.

Is it genuine?

Due to its outlandish appearance, readers can be forgiven for questioning the coin’s authenticity. Given the limited amount of die-struck design there is to study, I can’t say in complete confidence that the coin is genuine. However, I see nothing that would indicate that the reverse face was struck by a counterfeit die. The microscopic appearance of the design and field are identical to a comparison 1983 cent. The machine doubling is sharply defined and classic in appearance. The vertical misalignment resembles several others in my collection gathered from various parts of the world.

While the jumble of brockaged design elements is very odd-looking, there’s nothing in its appearance that would preclude its being the product of a coinage press. Therefore, the totality of the evidence seems to point toward a genuine mint product.

Coin World’s Collectors’ Clearinghouse department does not accept coins or other items for examination without prior permission from News Editor William T. Gibbs. Materials sent to Clearinghouse without prior permission will be returned unexamined. Please address all Clearinghouse inquiries to or to 800-673-8311, Ext. 172.

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