On Jan. 30 of this year a complex error I’ve tangled with in the
past appeared on the message board of the Error Coin Information Exchange.
The coin is an off-center, weakly struck Roosevelt dime with an
early-stage brockage that occupies the entire obverse face. The
brockage was generated by a die cap, which in this case started out as
a newly-struck dime that attached itself to the obverse die.
The die cap proceeded to strike a succession of planchets, leaving
each with an incuse, mirror-image version of the reverse design on the
obverse face. This coin is one of a series of dimes produced by the
same malfunctioning press and is identical in appearance to the second
example portrayed in this column.
I first encountered these dimes in the January 1983 issue of
Error-Variety News. Four of the dimes were featured in that issue, but
no conclusion was reached at the time as to their authenticity or
their precise nature and origin.
It’s possible that the dime that surfaced last January belonged to
this original quartet since they were all examined by “Lonesome” John
Devine, who was editing EVN during the 1980s.
Some time later I discovered that error dealer Fred Weinberg had
three of the dimes in his vault. He generously allowed me to study and
ultimately purchase them. I suspect that these three dimes belong to
the original quartet reported in EVN, although Weinberg isn’t as sure.
This leaves the total number of known examples produced by this
malfunctioning press at between four and eight.
The reverse face of each dime shows three cuds (marginal die
breaks) with surrounding die damage. The two larger cuds are quite
tall and were originally even taller. However in every example the
apex of each cud has been scraped off. All three cuds were clearly
caused by an impact.
When these dimes were struck, the objects responsible for the
impacts were still present, sandwiched between the obverse die and the
die cap. Although the die cap prevented the objects from leaving a
direct impression on the dimes, their continued presence behind the
die cap is readily apparent. On the obverse face of each dime,
opposite the two larger cuds, the brockaged surface has been
dramatically pushed in by a corresponding bulge on the working face of
the die cap. Each bulge was, in turn, pushed up by the protrusion
At least two scenarios could account for the hidden protrusions on
the obverse die face. It’s possible that three tall pressure ridges or
burrs were pushed up by severe blows to the side of the obverse die
neck at its junction with the die face. A second possibility involves
three hard foreign objects falling into the striking chamber and
settling against the collar. When the two dies came together (in the
absence of a planchet), the foreign objects chipped the reverse die
and simultaneously embedded themselves in the obverse die face. This
left the two dies with a peg-and-socket arrangement that was ideal for
impaling the next planchet to be fed into the press. That planchet
became the die cap responsible for the brockages.
The dimes can be arranged in logical sequence that likely
represents a true progression. The sequence is characterized by three
trends: (1) the strike, along with the brockage, becomes increasingly
weak; (2) the strike becomes increasingly off-center toward the
southwest (reverse perspective); (3) indifferent to the movement of
the planchet, the brockage instead drifts slightly northward, perhaps
pointing to a growing misalignment of the obverse (hammer) die.
No expansion of the brockage is seen through this short series;
evidently the light impacts were not great enough to flatten and
distort the raised design on the working face of the die cap.
All but the first coin of the progression show a thin groove that
arcs across the brockage. It would appear to be some sort of
struck-through error, perhaps the impression of a thin metal shaving.
More can be found in the January/February 2004 Errorscope.
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