A wise old aphorism from the realm of science declares that
“fortune favors the prepared mind.”
Marilyn Keeney’s mind was certainly prepared when she stumbled
across a second example of abnormal reeding in a State quarter dollar.
The first example — also discovered by Keeney — was reported in
the Jan. 25, 2010, Collectors’ Clearinghouse. Back then she
encountered a group of 2008-P New Mexico quarter dollars struck within
a single damaged collar. As shown in the accompanying photo, the reeds
(vertical ridges) on the edge of each affected coin are unusually low
and narrow and are separated from each other by abnormally wide, flat
valleys. This appearance reflects damage to the sharp tips of the
corresponding ridges on the working face of the collar. The apex of
each ridge was removed by abrasion or machining. Horizontal scratches
in the valley floors seem to point to the use of some kind of
rotating, cylindrical device.
The original discussion also included a much earlier case
involving a 1964-D Washington quarter dollar. That example showed a
similar, but somewhat less uniform pattern of low, narrow reeds and
broad, flat valleys.
The same sort of collar damage has now been found on the edge of
some 2009-P Wyoming quarter dollars. Here the damage is not nearly as
severe as that seen in the earlier examples. The damage also affects
only about half the edge. The edge exhibits a gradual transition from
normal reeding to abnormal reeding, with the widest valleys seen at
around 8:00 (obverse clock position).
At least three die pairs are represented within a group of five
quarter dollars that were found by Keeney. This is not particularly
surprising, as the same collar is often used through several die changes.
Keeney’s two finds leave little doubt that many other cases of
similar damage are yet to be discovered. In fact, I stumbled across
another example while rummaging through my modest collection of coins
with odd-looking reeding. This time the collar damage was detected on
a 1967 quarter dollar that combines a tilted partial collar with an
uncentered broadstrike. In other words, the collar was strongly tilted
and a portion of it was positioned beneath the plane of the anvil
(reverse) die face. The reeds are low, narrow and widely spaced (see photos).
A particularly interesting feature is seen at 2:30. Here the reeds
taper strongly as they approach the top of the collar. The same
phenomenon is seen on the 1964-D Washington quarter dollar. This
provides a clue as to the likely cause of the damage in all these examples.
In many collars the entrance is beveled. Judging from a large
sample of partial collar errors, the length of this beveled transition
zone between the top of the collar and its working face is highly
variable. A sloping entrance deflects the impact of a misaligned
hammer die, helping to prevent damage to both the die and the working
face of the collar. It also probably makes for more reliable insertion
of the planchet.
The sloping entrance is often coarsely machined and bears
horizontal scratches that are somewhat reminiscent of those seen
between the reeds in the New Mexico quarter dollars. It’s possible
that the machine tool that grinds out or carves out the bevel
sometimes slips into the interior of the collar, damaging the tips of
the ridges on the collar’s working face. A related scenario has the
damage being caused by a finishing tool that is used to removed burrs
and smooth out the bevel.
In either case, the damage would be expected to occur most
frequently, and achieve its greatest severity, along the upper portion
of the collar’s working face. This neatly explains why the reeds
sometimes taper toward the obverse face and the top of the collar.
Coin World’s Collectors’ Clearinghouse department does
not accept coins or other items for examination without prior
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Clearinghouse without prior permission will be returned unexamined.
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