US Coins

Curious collector finds new 20-cent coin die variety

A previously unknown obverse die struck 1875 Seated Liberty 20-cent coins at the Philadelphia Mint in a newly identified die marriage, reports 20-cent coin specialist and author John Frost.

The discovery brings to just three the number of known die marriages for the 1875 Seated Liberty 20-cent coin. The marriages were executed with three obverse dies and two reverse dies.

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The new discovery is attributed as Brunner-Frost 3 according to the cataloging system established in Double Dimes: The United States Twenty-cent Piece by Lane Brunner and John Frost.

Surprise find

Frost reports the likelihood of such a discovery was small, as the entire production of 1875 20-cent coins at the Philadelphia Mint for general circulation was just 37,000 coins.

During the Garden State Numismatic Association convention in New Jersey in May, a collector and recent member of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club brought a number of 20-cent coins to the LSCC bourse table manned by Frost.

The collector had purchased the Brunner-Frost reference on 20-cent coins in 2016 and wanted Frost’s confirmation that he had attributed the die marriages of his coins correctly.

The collector asked Frost if one of his coins was the scarce BF-2 1875 20-cent piece. The coin in question was graded and encapsulated About Uncirculated 58 prooflike by ANACS, though not attributed by die marriage.

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Frost said that, after examining the date position on the obverse, he was ready to confirm the collector’s suspicions for a BF-2 attribution, but then he flipped the coin over to examine the reverse. Frost informed the collector that what he had likely was, not a BF-2, but a BF-3, which did not exist until Frost made the assertion.

Even though the date position on the BF-3 obverse is nearly identical to that of the BF-2 marriage’s obverse, “the BF-2 die has a slightly recut 18 in the date, and the new obverse date is not recut and slightly right of the BF-2 date,” according to Frost.

“Due to the length and strength of the two reverse die lines, it is our opinion that it is likely that this BF-3 coin was struck prior to BF-1 in the emission sequence,” according to Frost.

The new emission sequence is identified as:

??BF-3: Obverse 3, Reverse A

??BF-1: Obverse 1, Reverse A

??BF-2: Obverse 2, Reverse B

Frost said he documented the discovery piece and examined the results against his own 1875 BF-2, providing his findings to Brunner who confirmed Frost’s BF-3 determination for the collector’s 1875 Seated Liberty 20-cent coin. 

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