What does Zerbe Special Strike mean?
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I looked around at several different coins on Ebay, and noticed 1 seller's 1921 Morgan that has "So Called Zerbe" on SEGS insert. And then I start to digging a little deeper on PCGS, NGC, and Google. I still don't get it why is it an unique? I know that the 1921 Morgan PF is not existed, but why is it considering as special strike when between 20-200 have been polished and show a lot of hairlines on it? I just never seen or heard of 1921 Morgan Zerbe or so called zerbe.

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References to Farran Zerbe and Morgan dollars are meaningless. No coins were specially made for him. The so-called "Zerbe proofs" are simply lies.

 

(PS: The so-called "Chapman proofs" are real, intentionally made "almost proofs" and described by T. Louis Comparette in his correspondence for 1921.)

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The whole "Zerbe Coin" mystique stems from a misinterpretation of an actual event. Farran Zerbe did secure a quantity of 1921 Morgan Dollars at the time of their striking and brought them to a meeting of the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society in San Francisco for distribution to its members (the 1921-S dollars had not yet been coined).

 

These were carefully selected by him for quality, but there was nothing special about their striking. They were from fresh dies and relatively free of marks, but they were ordinary currency pieces nonetheless. Because this presentation was highly publicized at the time, many persons came to believe that they were proof or specimen strikings of some sort.

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The flat-relief 1921 Morgan dollars were produced from February 19 to November 17 in Philadelphia, May 5 to December 31 in Denver, and April 21 to November 14 in San Francisco.

 

What was the date of the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society meeting where this happened?

 

On March 7, 1921 T. Louis Comparette, curator of the mint collection wrote to George Godard at the Connecticut State library:

"We are coining silver dollars here now and I have tried, but in vain, to secure specimens for you and the Senator. They are not to be given out, at least not now."

[CSL, op. cit. Letter dated March 7, 1921 to Godard from Comparette]

 

It was not until May 7 that Comparette had 1921 Morgan dollars to distribute.

 

Given Zerbe's untrustworthy reputation with the Mint Bureau and Treasury Dept., It seems amazing that he could obtain 1921 Morgans when the Mint's own curator could not.....

 

See also: Silver Dollars Struck Under the Pittman Act of 1918. Seneca Mill Press, 2011. Complete, original manuscript daily journal entries of every date and mint of silver dollar struck from 1921 to 1928. Required reference for anyone involved with die varieties or coinage production. Includes a lengthy research essay on the Pittman Act. CD-ROM in jewel case.

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I have all of my PCNS history information at home and will respond tomorrow.

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What was the date of the Pacific Coast Numismatic Society meeting where this happened?

 

I checked my research notes, and the date of the PCNS meeting was May 17, 1921. The coins Zerbe distributed were 1921-S dollars. They were described as "specimen strikings," but it's not certain whether that term was used as it is today in reference to specially made coins or simply meant "examples" of ordinary strikings.

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Thanks! Great information!

 

OK. That all fits. Zerbe went to the SF mint or a local bank and bought some of the new dollars. This had to be sometime after release was authorized on May 7 and the PCNS meeting on May 17. He might have described them as "new specimens fresh from the Mint" or similar language; or others could have adopted such language or implication. Later, some tried to capitalize on the Zerbe name association.

 

Older correspondence uses the word "specimen" either as "an example or sample" and "a specially prepared piece" depending on context. In 20th century mint documents I've seen "specimen" only in the context of an example or sample. ("Here's a specimen of this year's coinage.")

 

Sounds like a good Numismatist column for you, David. That will get good information into print and might help end the rip-off of collectors by story-tellers.

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Late to the game here, but I'll chime in.

 

With regard to the Philadelphia "Zerbe Proof," "Zerbe Dies," and "So-called Zerbe Dies" designations, there is a lot of past confusion that led to designations on TPG slabs. In the late 90s, it was observed that the coins that were designated as "Zerbe Proofs" all had a couple die markers on them that were consistent. Unfortunately, the disseminated descriptions of these included a couple markers of the D1 reverse hub. What happened soon thereafter was the designation of many coins with the D1 reverse hub as "so-called Zerbe Dies" or "Zerbe Dies" coins, even if all the markers from the actual "Zerbe proofs" weren't present. This would include the aforementioned SEGS coin.

 

A bit later, specialists started looking at legitimate "Zerbe proofs" (yeah, an oxymoron, but bear with me) -- coins that were certified as Zerbe proofs, were clearly special looking coins, and weren't Chapman proofs. This time, more attention to specific markers was paid, and they were better documented. These coins consistently showed specific die scratches on both sides, including what are now known as "scribbling scratches," which show up as dense die fingerprint near the eagle's right (vewer's left) foot. These coins consistently bore the markings of what is now known as VAM 1AG, so whether or not Zerbe ever laid hands on these coins, there is a small batch from this die pair that was clearly cherrypicked very close to their manufacture. One such coin was found in the ANA collection a couple years ago in a 2x2 envelope simply marked 1921 Prooflike.

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So...Zerbe went to his local SF bank and got some shiny new 1921 silver dollars. Some or all were from the same die pair - as was common for dollar coins where only one or two presses were in use at any time. He distributed some at the PCNS meeting on May 17, 1921.

 

Nothing special and not "worth" more than any other 1921 Morgan in similar condition.

 

(As for scribbles, they are an indicator the die was not new, but had been lapped or resurfaced, then manually cleaned up.)

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So...Zerbe went to his local SF bank and got some shiny new 1921 silver dollars. Some or all were from the same die pair - as was common for dollar coins where only one or two presses were in use at any time. He distributed some at the PCNS meeting on May 17, 1921.

 

Nothing special and not "worth" more than any other 1921 Morgan in similar condition.

 

(As for scribbles, they are an indicator the die was not new, but had been lapped or resurfaced, then manually cleaned up.)

The puzzling thing about the distribution is that the "fabric" of these coins is clearly different from typical 1921-P Morgans. If pulled from a bag at a bank, they were definitely cherrypicked for quality, and rather expertly so.

 

I disagree with your assessment of the scribbles, as these are seen in similar patterns for all mints, are traceable to earliest die states and have not been observed to have been added to later die states. The scribbled area often (but not always) shows weak feather detail, so the assumption was that there were standing instructions in Philadelphia to put back some detail with a graver, even if there wasn't a problem.

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Virtually all of the comments from many about the "fabric" of one coin or another, are nothing more than normal variations in die manufacture. Possibly unique to a die, yes, but not specially made. Further, the SF Mint officers repeatedly expressed distrust of Zerbe as did Treasury officers.

 

I guess I don't understand use of the "scribbles" term. They appear to be nothing more than manual abrasion scratches left by grit that was too coarse or contaminated. How do they relate to restoring detail?

 

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I guess I don't understand use of the "scribbles" term. They appear to be nothing more than manual abrasion scratches left by grit that was too coarse or contaminated. How do they relate to restoring detail?

Not so much restoring detail, perhaps, as filling in part of the die that had an insufficient impression from the hub. They always end up in the same place mentioned earlier, and never anywhere else, unlike what is often seen in the fields of 1878 7TF reverses. There are also many coins that show small clusters of lines between some of the rows of feathers in the outer part of the wing that look to be manually filled in, as opposed to being long, straight (or gently curved) lines that would come from routine die polishing. There are some coins that show both types of lines.

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There are 1921 "zerbe proof" dollars out there slabbed by pcgs. i once owned this coin slabbed by them and graded PR-62 with the notation "Zerbe Proof". It had a dark spot on the reverse but was otherwise nice. Sure looked like a legit proof to me. I guess PCGS liked it too.

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No 1921 proof Morgan dollar coins were made by, for, or in any other manner relating to Zerbe. The authentication is obsolete - based on hearsay and not fact.

 

(The "Chapman" proofs are real almost-proofs - by the Curator's definition - but were not specifically made for Chapman, although he was the first to acquire some.)

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Images I found were Legend archives of 1921 Philly coins and not 1921-S.

Edited by numisport

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""No 1921 proof Morgan dollar coins were made by, for, or in any other manner relating to Zerbe. The authentication is obsolete - based on hearsay and not fact.""

 

There exist pcgs slabbed proof zerbe proof dollars according to pcgs. as i said i once owned a proof-62 slabbed by pcgs that was attributed as a zerbe proof. so its your opinion vs pcgs i guess.

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""No 1921 proof Morgan dollar coins were made by, for, or in any other manner relating to Zerbe. The authentication is obsolete - based on hearsay and not fact.""

 

There exist pcgs slabbed proof zerbe proof dollars according to pcgs. as i said i once owned a proof-62 slabbed by pcgs that was attributed as a zerbe proof. so its your opinion vs pcgs i guess.

 

Apparently, even PCGS has changed its tune on this subject and no longer recognizes the coins as Proof strikings. From Coinfacts:

 

See here

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""No 1921 proof Morgan dollar coins were made by, for, or in any other manner relating to Zerbe. The authentication is obsolete - based on hearsay and not fact.""

 

There exist pcgs slabbed proof zerbe proof dollars according to pcgs. as i said i once owned a proof-62 slabbed by pcgs that was attributed as a zerbe proof. so its your opinion vs pcgs i guess.

 

Apparently, even PCGS has changed its tune on this subject and no longer recognizes the coins as Proof strikings. From Coinfacts:

 

See here

 

...WOWZER at the plate coin...what a BEAUTY!

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As conditions and available information change, it would be expected that the authentication companies would modify their assessments. The insistence on facts and supporting documentation is comparatively recent, so I expect to see more revisions of authentications based on prior hearsay and "numismyths."

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