US Coins

Unravel the mystery that surrounds die trails

Researcher Will Brooks has long been interested in die trails, and he’s explaining them to our readers in the latest print issue of Coin World.

Original images by Ray Parkhurst.

The latest Coin World  issue, dated July 17, 2017, has been sent to the presses, and we have a quick preview of some of the Coin World exclusives found in our latest digital edition.

Unraveling the mystery of die trails

Researcher Will Brooks has long been interested in die trails, which he describes as “(usually) raised tapered ridges resembling streaks that extend away from a coin’s devices.” Numismatists have long asked what could cause these odd ridges. Brooks now has an explanation, based on four observations.

“When I put these four observations together, I was able to think of only one cause that explained the ‘why’ of all of them, as well as resolved every single one of my previously unresolved questions!” he writes. “The culprit is one of the usual suspects and one that has been found guilty before: die abrasion. While I am not the first to suggest die abrasion as the cause of trails, my collaborators and I have now finally caught it red-handed.”


Two different kinds of errors

A half-piastre coin of Lebanon from World War II is no one’s idea of a beautiful coin, but the piece profiled by Mike Diamond in his “Collectors’ Clearinghouse” column is nonetheless deserving of close attention. Diamond notes, “The brass half piastre shown here displays the typically sloppy nature of both the design and the strike.”

The coin exhibits two different forms of error, one on each side. The obverse shows some odd die damage that manifests as a raised, curved plateau; Diamond is unsure of the exact cause. The reverse is multi-struck, but as Diamond notes, “One-sided multi-strikes are ordinarily quite rare. However, they are exceedingly common among these wartime Lebanese coins. …”


A Proof 1895 Morgan dollar for $4?

A 1934 B. Max Mehl fixed-price list features coins at prices that seem incredible today, writes Gerald Tebben in his “Coin Lore” column. For example, “Mehl offered 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain cents, variety not stated, for $14 in Good condition,” he writes. How about an Uncirculated 1914-D Lincoln cent for $1.25?

And then there were the Proof Morgan dollars. “Mehl offered Proof Morgan dollars for $2.25 apiece, date of your choice except 1895, 1904 and 1921.” As for the 1895, Mehl wanted $4 for one; today, you’d pay $50,000 and up to buy one.


‘Heavy hitter’ doubled die discoveries

“Two ‘heavy hitter’ doubled dies in the Lincoln cent series highlight the die varieties from Coin World readers this month,” writes John Wexler in his monthly “Varieties Notebook” column. “Both are worthy enough to have been included in The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties.

One is on a Proof 1951 Lincoln cent. The other is on a bronze 1982 Lincoln, Large Date cent. Do you know what to look for on either of these coins if you have them in your collection?

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