World Coins

What caused weak hubbing on this doubled die coin?

Many countries farm out their coining operations to foreign mints. Outsourcing makes sense if you lack a mint of your own or if the demands of commerce outstrip domestic coining capabilities.

One denomination whose production was periodically outsourced is the ringed-bimetallic 1-peso coin used in Argentina from 1994 to 2010. The actual dates found on these coins have a more restricted range (1994 to 1996 and 2006 to 2010). According to Numista's website, five foreign mints were used to produce these coins at various times. For any particular coin, the production facility is indicated by a tiny capital letter (A to E) found on each of the two circular dots that separate REPUBLICA ARGENTINA from PRIMERA MONEDA PATRIA. These letters are quickly worn off or battered into an unrecognizable smudge as the coin circulates.

Outsourcing Production

For the years 1994 to 1996, these 1-peso coins were minted in Seoul, South Korea (A), at Britain’s Royal Mint (B), and in Paris (C). In 2009 and 2010, they were minted in Mexico (D) and Italy (E). They were produced exclusively in-house in the years 2006 to 2008, with production split between Buenos Aires and Italy in 2009. Coins made in Argentina carry no letter.

The government of Argentina was probably comfortable outsourcing the job to South Korea, a nation known for precision, high-tech manufacturing. This confidence turned out to be somewhat misplaced, at least for those coins produced in 1995. An Argentinean colleague, Sergio Cocciarini, informs me that at least four significant doubled die varieties are known that carry the “A” insignia. The most dramatic of these features a Class I doubled die (rotated hub doubling) on its obverse face with an astonishing amount of rotation between the second and third of three visible hubbings.

The first two hubbings were relatively weak, peripherally incomplete, and rather close together. The final, definitive hubbing was rotated 25 degrees clockwise relative to the earlier attempts.

The lack of peripheral doubling is presumably related to the cone-shaped face of the blank working die. As the working hub is squeezed into the working die, it steadily flattens the cone. As the cone gets flatter, more and more of the hub’s raised design is transferred to the working die in the form of an incuse impression. It’s only when the cone is completely flattened that the full design is transferred.

The presence of a second, identical weak hubbing is more difficult to explain. It implies that the hub failed to flatten the cone beyond what the first hubbing had already accomplished.

It’s also worth pondering why the earlier hubbings are weak, even toward the center of the coin. One would think that the pressure in the center would be strong enough to generate a strong incuse design on the face of the working die. But perhaps not.

Perhaps the pressure was strong enough to flatten the apex of the cone, but not strong enough for the raised devices on the working hub to fully penetrate the die steel.

An alternative hypothesis has the final hubbing depressing the field around the earlier impressions, leaving only the deepest, narrowest remnants.

A third scenario explains the weak accessory elements as having survived an attempt to grind off the earlier impressions prior to the final hubbing.

Many other centrally located doubled dies also feature weak, incomplete, and attenuated remnants, like the numerous Minnesota quarter dollar reverse doubled dies, which number well over a hundred.

The two earlier hubbings are best seen on the right side where we see two pairs of accessory flagpoles (a total of four), with the members of each pair lying close together. On the left side we see only one set of accessory flagpoles. This numerical discrepancy may reflect a tilted hubbing, uneven die hardness, uneven die abrasion, or some other factor.

On the right side we see other accessory elements that include the rear of the right cannon (located just beneath the normal drapery) and the tension ropes surrounding the snare drum (located below the rear of the normal right cannon). Scattered folds of drapery appear in the field on both left and right sides, alongside and below the normal drapery.

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