Many countries farm out their coining operations to foreign mints.
Outsourcing makes sense if you lack a mint of your own or if the
demands of commerce outstrip domestic coining capabilities.
One denomination whose production was periodically outsourced is the
ringed-bimetallic 1-peso coin used in Argentina from 1994 to 2010. The
actual dates found on these coins have a more restricted range (1994
to 1996 and 2006 to 2010). According to Numista's website, five foreign mints were used
to produce these coins at various times. For any particular coin, the
production facility is indicated by a tiny capital letter (A to E)
found on each of the two circular dots that separate REPUBLICA
ARGENTINA from PRIMERA MONEDA PATRIA. These letters are quickly worn
off or battered into an unrecognizable smudge as the coin circulates.
For the years 1994 to 1996, these 1-peso coins were minted in Seoul,
South Korea (A), at Britain’s Royal Mint (B), and in Paris (C). In
2009 and 2010, they were minted in Mexico (D) and Italy (E). They were
produced exclusively in-house in the years 2006 to 2008, with
production split between Buenos Aires and Italy in 2009. Coins made in
Argentina carry no letter.
The government of Argentina was probably comfortable outsourcing the
job to South Korea, a nation known for precision, high-tech
manufacturing. This confidence turned out to be somewhat misplaced, at
least for those coins produced in 1995. An Argentinean colleague,
Sergio Cocciarini, informs me that at least four significant doubled
die varieties are known that carry the “A” insignia. The most dramatic
of these features a Class I doubled die (rotated hub doubling) on its
obverse face with an astonishing amount of rotation between the second
and third of three visible hubbings.
The first two hubbings were relatively weak, peripherally
incomplete, and rather close together. The final, definitive hubbing
was rotated 25 degrees clockwise relative to the earlier attempts.
The lack of peripheral doubling is presumably related to the
cone-shaped face of the blank working die. As the working hub is
squeezed into the working die, it steadily flattens the cone. As the
cone gets flatter, more and more of the hub’s raised design is
transferred to the working die in the form of an incuse impression.
It’s only when the cone is completely flattened that the full design
The presence of a second, identical weak hubbing is more difficult
to explain. It implies that the hub failed to flatten the cone beyond
what the first hubbing had already accomplished.
It’s also worth pondering why the earlier hubbings are weak, even
toward the center of the coin. One would think that the pressure in
the center would be strong enough to generate a strong incuse design
on the face of the working die. But perhaps not.
Perhaps the pressure was strong enough to flatten the apex of the
cone, but not strong enough for the raised devices on the working hub
to fully penetrate the die steel.
An alternative hypothesis has the final hubbing depressing the field
around the earlier impressions, leaving only the deepest, narrowest remnants.
A third scenario explains the weak accessory elements as having
survived an attempt to grind off the earlier impressions prior to the
Many other centrally located doubled dies also feature weak,
incomplete, and attenuated remnants, like the numerous Minnesota
quarter dollar reverse doubled dies, which number well over a hundred.
The two earlier hubbings are best seen on the right side where we
see two pairs of accessory flagpoles (a total of four), with the
members of each pair lying close together. On the left side we see
only one set of accessory flagpoles. This numerical discrepancy may
reflect a tilted hubbing, uneven die hardness, uneven die abrasion, or
some other factor.
On the right side we see other accessory elements that include the
rear of the right cannon (located just beneath the normal drapery) and
the tension ropes surrounding the snare drum (located below the rear
of the normal right cannon). Scattered folds of drapery appear in the
field on both left and right sides, alongside and below the normal drapery.