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
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.
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