Edge Lettering on US coins (historically and today)
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I have a question, for which I'm sure someone here will have the answer.

 

During the mint process of recent USA coins, my understanding of how/when the edge lettering is applied to coins happens via one of the two processes below (source here):

 

Process 1:

A) Blank punched from sheet of metal

B) Edge of the blank upset to create rims (now called a planchet instead of a blank)

C) Planchet struck by obverse/reverse dies in collar

D) Edge lettering applied to coin (random orientation of edge inscription)

 

Coins minted in this way:

Presidential dollars, business strikes (for circulation 2007-2013)

Presidential dollars, satin finish (mint set) strikes (2007-2010)

Native American dollars, business strikes (for circulation 2009-2013)

Native American dollars, satin finish (mint set) strikes (2009-2010)

 

 

Process 2:

A) Blank punched from sheet of metal

B) Edge of the blank upset to create rims (now called a planchet instead of a blank)

C) Planchet struck by obverse/reverse dies in collar. The collar is made up of three interlocking pieces that have the edge inscription, and the edge inscription is applied at the same time as the obverse and reverse are struck. Thus, the edge inscription is consistently oriented in one direction and consistently in the same location with respect to the obverse and reverse images.

 

Coins minted in this way:

Presidential dollars, proof strikes (2007-2013)

Native American dollars, proof strikes (2009-2013)

 

 

==========================================================

 

SO now for my questions:

 

How were other USA coins minted with edge lettering? Specifically:

 

1) Was the edge lettering (or design) for USA coins ever applied at the same time that the rims of the coin are "upset"? In other words, before the minting process? Or, would the pressure from the strike (even for an incuse edge design) destroy the edge lettering when the obverse and reverse were struck.

 

2) Is the edge lettering of CBH dollars done essentially the same way as Process 1 above? Or was the process substantially different back then? If the CBH edges are "random orientation", I'm surprised I haven't seen PCGS assigning the "edge orientation" types to those coins to boost the number of coins one needs for a set. ;)

 

3) How about the lettered edge Large Cents. Were they created similarly?

 

Sorry if these questions are answered somewhere clearly or are silly -- I was just curious.

 

Thanks,

 

-Brandon

 

 

EDIT: I had incorrectly stated that the Presidential/Native American satin finish coins had edge lettering applied at the same time as being struck (by a multi-piece edge collar). This was incorrect. Only the proof issues of these had edge lettering applied at the time of being struck. All others had edge lettering applied in a separate process resulting in a random orientation of the lettering.

 

Edited by brg5658

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1. From I've understood the process of upsetting rims involves rotating the planchet several times in a circular device to push up the edges. I can't see how edger lettering and upsetting the rims could be done at the same time. At any rate the collar on the upset machine, if you could call it a collar, would have to retract as it does on the modern edge lettered coins, including the Indian $10 gold and $20 St. Gaudens, or the collar and the planchet would be bonded together.

 

2. The Lettered Edge bust half dollars were done the same way as the early Lettered Edge half cents and large cents. It was a separate operation where the blank planchet was placed between two straight dies that had half of the lettering on each of them. The edge letting discouraged people from shaving the edges on silver coins, and put up one more barrier for counterfeiters on the copper pieces.

 

3. Answered in #2. The technology was the same.

 

I do not think that the rims were upset on the U.S. early coins. That was one of the reasons why they wore out faster than the later pieces did which had a protective rim.

 

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1. From I've understood the process of upsetting rims involves rotating the planchet several times in a circular device to push up the edges. I can't see how edger lettering and upsetting the rims could be done at the same time. At any rate the collar on the upset machine, if you could call it a collar, would have to retract as it does on the modern edge lettered coins, including the Indian $10 gold and $20 St. Gaudens, or the collar and the planchet would be bonded together.

 

2. The Lettered Edge bust half dollars were done the same way as the early Lettered Edge half cents and large cents. It was a separate operation where the blank planchet was placed between two straight dies that had half of the lettering on each of them. The edge letting discouraged people from shaving the edges on silver coins, and put up one more barrier for counterfeiters on the copper pieces.

 

3. Answered in #2. The technology was the same.

 

I do not think that the rims were upset on the U.S. early coins. That was one of the reasons why they wore out faster than the later pieces did which had a protective rim.

 

Fantastic explanation Bill.

 

Part of what prompted these questions was an old 8 Reales I have. I thought the edging happened before the coins were struck by Obverse and Reverse dies on these pieces. For example, on this example (below), the odd obverse rim (upper left) was (presumably) formed when the lip created from edging was folded over by the die. Thus, the edging would have happened first, creating a bit of an upset rim, and then that rim/lip was caught by the die and folded over on itself (see the clear die dentils pressed in the folded over part).

 

1806LIMA_PERU_8R_NGC_VF30_slab_compositejpg_zps242af9dc.jpg

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Buy a copy of "From Mine to Mint." That will answer your technology questions for the period from about 1833 to 1937, including older edge lettering.

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Buy a copy of "From Mine to Mint." That will answer your technology questions for the period from about 1833 to 1937, including older edge lettering.

 

Roger, thanks I already have a copy, but have only skimmed so far.

 

I'll hunt down that part of the book tonight and read it. I just had this thought at work today, with no resources at my fingertips except Google (which was of limited use).

 

Per chance, do you know how the old Spanish milled dollars (8Rs) were edge stamped, or all of the many Conders circa 1788-1800? Was just wondering if there was an exhaustive write-up on the edge lettering process over time.

 

-Brandon

 

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Use the CD provided with the book to find what you want. The small size file will print, the larger file has clearer illustrations but will not print.

 

Most conders = three or six part collar by Jean-Pierre Droz. (See book. Droz was inventor, Boulton hired him and copied/improved.)

Spanish = castaing-type before or after strike.

 

Lots of superficial contemporary articles. Most at the time were concerned with rolling bars or ingots into uniform thickness. I'll see if I have any 17th or 18th cent materials that might help you. Can you read French, old German and Latin?

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Use the CD provided with the book to find what you want. The small size file will print, the larger file has clearer illustrations but will not print.

 

Most conders = three or six part collar by Jean-Pierre Droz. (See book. Droz was inventor, Boulton hired him and copied/improved.)

Spanish = castaing-type before or after strike.

 

Lots of superficial contemporary articles. Most at the time were concerned with rolling bars or ingots into uniform thickness. I'll see if I have any 17th or 18th cent materials that might help you. Can you read French, old German and Latin?

 

I can read French and German pretty readily. I have 20 hours of college level Latin that will also probably make it possible for me to get through that. Latin is close enough to Italian (which I can speak semi-fluently) that I can usually figure it out.

 

Thanks Roger!

 

-Brandon

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Buy a copy of "From Mine to Mint." That will answer your technology questions for the period from about 1833 to 1937, including older edge lettering.

 

Roger, your write up on edge collars, reeding, and edge lettering on pages 410 through 422 is absolutely brilliant and fantastically clear! I should have known it would be in your new book! Thanks! (thumbs u

 

-Brandon

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Thank you! Your comment means a lot to me.

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The planchets for the early coins did have the edge upset. It was done using the Castaining machine and in the case of the early half cents, large cents, half dollars and dollars the edge was lettered at the same time. Plain edge coins simply used edge dies that had no lettering. The upsetting mill and the Castaining machine both operate on a similar principle the squeezing of the blank between two surfaces of dies as the blank rotates between them.

 

 

Roger, very few if any Conder tokens had their edges lettered using Droz's multi-part collar. Droz did demonstrate the principle and got several people, including Bolton, excited over it, but they were never able to develop it for mass production as far as I know. One identifying feature of a multi-part collar is the vertical line between segments that appears on the edge. I have never seen such dividing lines on the edge of a Conder token although I suppose the may exist on some of the rarer "private tokens". All I have ever seen on the regular production tokens have been edges made using the two die Castaining machine.

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Correction noted --- I was thinking of the later date tokens.

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