Pre-strike planchet damage is infinitely variable in its severity,
extent, location, and appearance. Yet, from time to time, consistent
patterns do emerge. When similar-looking damage is found repeatedly in
the same area, it stands to reason that the same machine part is
responsible and that the damage was probably inflicted within the
press and immediately before the strike.
An example of such damage is seen on two 1999 cents, one of which
was struck in-collar and the other struck off-center. The left side of
the planchet was pinched and sheared off, exposing the zinc core along
the edge of the deficit and on the adjacent obverse surface.
While the two cents were struck by different die pairs, it doesn’t
necessarily mean that they were struck in two different presses,
however, as dies are replaced at least once a day in a typical press.
I have seen at least half a dozen additional 1999 cents bearing the
same type of pre-strike planchet damage in the same location. It’s
important to understand that a planchet that is damaged before it
arrives in the press will enter the striking chamber in a random
orientation. This pertains to both its clock position and which
surface faces the hammer die. Consistent positioning of pre-strike
damage can presumably only occur within the coinage press, while the
planchet is being cradled in the feeder and presented to whatever is
generating the damage. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that both
cents show die damage on the reverse face. Whatever was damaging these
planchets also probably scarred the die face.
A third off-center 1999 cent shows a different form of pre-strike
planchet damage. In this case the edge of the planchet was neatly
carved away by some machine part. The zinc core is completely exposed
along the edge of the deficit. I’ve seen other 1999 cents with the
exact same damage, although the positioning isn’t quite as consistent
as the cents whose perimeter was pinched off. Still, the location of
the damage is far from random, as it mostly occurs on the upper right
side, as seen here.
That being the case, I’m pretty sure the damage was inflicted just
before the strike, near or within the striking chamber. Prosaic forms
of pre-strike damage also support the idea of a last-second mishap.
The illustrated 1972 half dollar displays a struck-in rim burr on the
obverse face at 5:00. It was long argued that rim burrs — especially
the classic, fang-like form shown here — were generated in the upset
mill. But this hypothesis is undermined by the fact that the vast
majority of rim burrs appear on the face struck by the hammer die,
instead of being evenly distributed between hammer and anvil die.
The nonrandom positioning of rim burrs was reinforced for me several
years ago when error dealer Fred Weinberg sent me a large group of
Anthony dollars, each of which had an atypical, symmetrical rim burr
in the same clock position on the obverse face. All of the coins were
struck by the same die pair. This pattern could only have emerged at
the last possible moment before the strike.
More from CoinWorld.com:
Newman Collection Indian Head cent sold for only $42?
reimagines Lincoln cent with portrait of Ronald Reagan
drops maximum edition on four-coin silver Kennedy half dollar sets
Langbord family present oral arguments as Philadelphia Court of
Appeals hears 1933 $20 case
First Spouse gold coin sales well below maximum authorized mintages
Keep up with all of CoinWorld.com's news and insights by signing
up for our free eNewsletters, liking
us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. We're also on Instagram!