Sunday, June 28, 2015

JR Newsletter: 28 June 2015 (247)

The sole contribution this week comes from Dave Rutherford:

On my site, Draped and Capped Bust Half price information from over 962 auctions and over 59,655 transactions dating back to the late 1980s is available for $20 per year (a portion of the subscription price will be donated to the JRCS and the BHNC). 
This information can be sorted and limited in various ways. New information is added as it becomes available. The public part of the site has information such as “errata” for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions of the Overton half dollar reference.
Dave Rutherford

Sunday, June 21, 2015

JR Newsletter: 21 June 2015 (246)

We have two contributions this week.

First, David Finkelstein penned an original article, "The Workflow Of The First United States Mint – Part 3"


Second, Steve Herrman wrote:

Now Available! - Auction Prices Realized for Certified & Graded Bust Half Dollars 1794-1839 (Summer 2015 revision)

Distributed as a softbound copy or in PDF file format, the APRCG contains a listing of all certified and graded Bust half dollars sold in major auctions during the last three years (June 2012 through May 2015).

Softbound copy is $25.00 postpaid. Softbound copy plus PDF file is $30.00 postpaid. PDF file by itself is $20.00.
$1.00 shall be donated to both the BHNC and the JRCS for each copy sold.
Please contact Steve at

Note: This is an annual publication. PDF file requires Adobe Reader for Windows OS or Mac OS.

Still Available - Complete Edition of Auction & Mail Bid Prices Realized for Bust Half Dollars 1794-1839 (2015 revision)

Distributed as a searchable PDF format file on CD-ROM. The Complete Edition of the AMBPR includes two complete, sorted and formatted listings of the more than 51,700 records in the AMBPR database.

R3+ to R8 die varieties, overdates & other popular varieties, proofs, mint errors & patterns, countermarks, contemporary counterfeits, and condition census specimens are listed for most major auctions held since 1984!

  -- Full listing in order by Die Variety Number
  -- Full listing in order by Sale & Lot Number

Distributed via CD-ROM, 1,782 pages, $50.00 postpaid.
$5.00 shall be donated to the JRCS for each copy sold.
Please contact Steve at

Note: This is a once in every 5 years publication. Requires Adobe Reader for Windows OS or Mac OS.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

JR Newsletter: 14 June 2015 (245)

We have two contributions this week, with the first from Winston Zack:

Dear JR Newsletter readers,

Our great friend Kirk Gorman, noted researcher, author, dedicated contributor to the JRCS, and all around wonderful guy is not well. He was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. The most recent information from his oncologist is that it is no longer operable, although alternative treatments are being investigated. Rory Rea has been a wonderful friend helping out and looking after Kirk at this time.

In better news, we are happy to announce that Kirk's girlfriend Sophie gave birth to their first child this morning. Henry David Gorman was born early in the morning on June 14, weighing 7 lbs 1 oz, and 19 inches long.

At this point in time, Kirk is spending a lot of time with his family and is very thankful to have the love and support from his numismatic friends.

If you would like to send any "get well" or "congratulations on the birth of your son" messages or cards to Kirk and Sophie please feel free to contact me at my email address: stoneman101(at)


Alan V. Weinberg wrote about a recently closed eBay auction:

Go to eBay and check item 331568951596, a 1787 contemporary counterfeit half dollar at $1525.

Link to closed eBay auction:  LINK to eBay

Variety 4A (1 previously known), noticeable obverse horizontal die crack; the other in Mark Glazer's collection. This eBay item likely won by "an East Coast dealer" (name omitted by editor).  I was 3rd underbidder. Few people knew about it due to its obscure categorization. Mark Glazer only knew about it as I checked with him days before it sold to guesstimate its value. We both assumed $1500+ would buy it but I lowered my sniper bid to $800+ out of concern over the black residue.

You can read it was found in an old estate house and was sold by a non-numismatist who evidently checked out its value before listing it at $599.

The seller told me that the black encrustation was hard tar-like. Likely the copper leaching to the surface of the German Silver planchet and corroding. Problematic it can be dissolved in acetone.  The so-called test cut is more likely a planchet split as German Silver is a hard brittle metal. One of the other pictured 1787s also has a similar edge split.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

JR Newsletter: 7 June 2015 (244)

The sole contribution this week is an original work from David Finkelstein:  "The Workflow of the First United States Mint, Part 2."

 The link to the document is here:

Sunday, May 31, 2015

JR Newsletter: 31 May 2015 (243)

This week's JR Newsletter starts with a response to Winston Zack's inquiry from last week.

Dick Johnson wrote:

In answer to Winston's inquiry about sinking a design into a die and the kind of press used to do this.

Surprise! The press used to sink a device into a die is the same as one which could be used for striking coins.

The answer is the screw press. A very brief background of the screw press.. The first such press was developed 1st century BC to press grapes into wine. In 1506 an Italian engineer developed a screw press to blank lead sheets to make seals for the pope.

In the mid 1500s screw presses were in use in European mints. In 1652 John Hull obtains a screw press to strike his Pine Tree shillings in America. A collar and ejection mechanism is added to the screw press at the Bologna Mint by Francesco Camrlli in 1786.

Matthew Boulton, father of the private mint, and his partner James Watt add Watt's steam engine to their screw press enabling them to strike coins in quantity (instead of hand feeding).

In 1792 David Rittenhouse obtains a screw press for the Philadelphia Mint, and Adam Eckfelt builds additional screw presses biased on that first one. In 1851 the London Mint adapts a screw press just for their hubbing needs. In America the Philadelphia Mint acquires a screw press specially for hubbing in 1892.

Screw presses can be found in machine shops today for use in moderate pressing work.

I mentioned hubbing. The ancients knew of hubbing for use of copying dies as early as circa 530 BC. Because iron can be treated (by heating and rapid cooling) it can be hardened or softened at will. A hub would be hardened and pressed into a soften die blank by use of a screw press.

Now what the engravers did at the Philadelphia Mint was to engrave the device image only in the correct size. Some engravers like to work in the positive, having the image in front of the constantly, or carve the image negative. Hubbing changes polarity. You need a positive hub to make a negative die.

The device only was in this hub. All lettering, stars and dentiles forming the border were added individually by punches. Tap a punch (of hardened steel) into a soft iron die blank and it forms the image at the end of the punch.

This diesinking is tricky work as the position of the punch is critical. It must be in line (same base line) with other letters;. the distance from the proceeding letter is critical, as well as the rotation of the punch. Finally how hard the punch is tapped results how deep it sinks into the die (to become a raised letter when struck). This depth must be uniform for all lettering.

This method continued throughout the 19th century, at the Philadelphia Mint even though it had a die-engraving pantograph (the Contimin) in 1836, replaced by the Hill reducer in 1857. They obtained models from sculptors, made patterns from these first in iron, later in copper. The Mint  used these machines for the device image only, preferring to add everything else by punches.

It was not until 1920 and de Francisci's Peace Dollar, did the Mint cut the entire image --  device and all --  on their Janvier pantograph. Victor Janvier developed his machine in France beginning in 1892 and pattend in 1999. Medallic Art Company imported the first Janvier to America in 1902 and sold one to the Philadelphia Mint in 1905.

Were it not for the Janvier die-engraving pantograph we might still be engraving dies by hand.

Winston  can find pictures of screw presses on Google as well as Janvier pantographs.

Dick Johnson
Author, Editor, Senior Consultant
Cofounder - Signature Art Medals
Corporate Historian - Medallic Art Company

And speaking of Winston Zack…

Winston wrote:

Congrats Bob Feldman on being the first reported person to reach 123/123 known capped bust dime die marriages. I'm sure there will be many more congrats coming your way. Certainly your accomplishment underscores the difficulty to reach such a goal. On average you added 2.5 new die marriages every month!

We all look forward to seeing you upgrading your set in the future. Not to mention, at the rate you acquired your capped bust set, you should be able to acquire all 30 draped bust dime die marriages by this time next year! And if you can do that primarily from eBay that will be all that more impressive!


David Quint also wrote with his congratulations for Bob Feldman and other comments:

An excellent JR Newsletter last week IMHO. The Finkelstein article on early mint operations is excellent, I can't wait for the future installments. The best thing I have on early mint operations is the Taxay book on the US Mint and Coinage, which is quite detailed but hasn't been update for 50 years. The book does go into some detail as to how working dies were punched by "gravers" which Winston Zack will find helpful in answering his questions (the letters and stars were punched by hand, not machine).

I am blown away that Bob Feldman has built a complete set of capped bust dimes (including the R-8 1827 JR-14), and that he did it in only 4 years. In the last dime census, we had 8 collections of 122 coins, and there has never been a set of all 123 (Bob's capped dime collection was not even included in the last census due to a communications issue). This is really quite a feat and an event in the world of capped bust dimes. Congratulations to Bob!

I've attached a recent study I did of the 1798 JR-4 obverse die states. This variety exhibits a spectacular series of prominent die cracks that traverse much of the right obverse field (the JR-4 was the only use of this obverse die). I found all of the pics on the Heritage site.

David Quint

Editor:  David's study of 1798 JR-4 obverse die states is linked here:

Finally, Peter Mosiondz, Jr. wrote with some book offerings:

The Early Coins of America, Sylvester Crosby. 1983 Quarterman reprint. HB. DJ protected in Brodart Mylar®. New. $25.00

United States Copper Cents 1816-1857, Howard R. Newcomb. 284 pp. 11 plates. HB. DJ protected in Mylar®. New. $25.00

Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle, David Tripp. SB. New. $15.00

Million Dollar Nickels: Mysteries of the Illicit 1913 Liberty Head Nickels Revealed, Paul Montgomery, Mark Borckardt and Ray Knight. HB. DJ protected in Mylar®. New. $20.00

Add $3.00 Media Mail Postage         

Peter Mosiondz, Jr.     JRCS #867
26 Cameron Circle
Laurel Springs, NJ 08021-4861

Sunday, May 24, 2015

JR Newsletter: 24 May 2015 (242)

We have three contributions this week, including a new article from David Finkelstein.  First, something from Winston Zack.

Winston wrote:

Thank you, James Higby, for your response on an earlier reference to the term 'Office Boy'. In general, it seems to be a reference to numerous blunders on dies, but not necessarily to an actual 'Mint apprentice'. If anyone has a reference to a possible 'Mint apprentice' in 1794 (for Large Cents), and in 1820 (for Bust Dimes), I would like to know that information as well.

This brings me to a second question about the early U.S. mint and its technology (~1792-1837):

Do we know how devices were impressed into dies (excuse my terminology if it is inaccurate)? Specifically, was there a device/machine which applied the pressure necessary to press the design detail (i.e. star, number, etc.) into dies? If there was such a machine, do we know what it looked like/what it probably looked like? And if so, can you provide an image of such the machine?

Thank you very much in advance...


Bob Feldman wrote:

I just wanted to let everyone know I have just completed my 123 Capped Bust Dime variety set!  I will be submitting my set for the next dime census.  The set will be around fine 12 or 15 grade average.  I bought coin 1 on March 2, 2011 on Ebay.  I bought coin 123 on 5-14-2015 from a fellow JRCS member.  So this set took me four years 2 1/2 months to assemble.  Every dime in my set now I found on Ebay except the last coin to finish my set I bought from a fellow member, the 1829 curl base 2 dime, or JR10.  Coin 123, PCGS G4.

Finally, David Finkelstein wrote and contributed an original work, "The Workflow Of The First United States Mint – Part 1." David's article is here:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

JR Newsletter: 17 May 2015 (241)

We start this week with a response to Winston's Zack's inquiry about the "office boy" reverse.
James Higby wrote:

Winston Zack:  Back in 1949 William Sheldon, in his Early American Cents,  used the term "office boy" to refer to reverse Z of a 1794 large cent, S-56.  The reverse features multiple blunders and anomalies.  I cannot confirm that his was the first use of the term, however.

James Higby

Brad Karoleff wrote:

Everyone should have received their latest issue of The John Reich Journal by now.  If your has not arrived please notify me via email at bkaroleff(at) and I will send a replacement as soon as possible.

We are also still looking for submissions for the pre-ANA issue of the journal.  We plan on publishing in early July if all goes well.  If you are working on an article I would love to have it by June 15th. We still need a couple submissions to fill out the issue so please consider sending something to me soon.


Ron Guth wrote:

JR Newsletter readers might be interested to know that we have been working on Condition Census listings for all of the pre-1838 early American coins, all denominations on the PCGS CoinFacts website.  We've integrated most, if not all, of coins that we have graded so far from the Pogue, Link, Friend, Missouri Cabinet, Miller, and the many other collections we've graded in recent years.  This is a beginning and a work-in-progress, so the results will be spotty, but in many instances the results are pretty significant as a tool for collectors.  Whenever possible, auction appearances have been matched or re-united, grades have been updated, and images have been added from our True-View database.  I'm having a great time working on this project.  There are some great coins out there, and because of PCGS's position in the industry, we see a lot of them.

PCGS CoinFacts is available on a subscription basis of $14.99 per month, and we offer a free 10-day trial at

I invite JR Newsletter readers to try it out and let me know what they think.  We're always looking for constructive input.

Thanks and best wishes,

Ron Guth
PCGS CoinFacts - the Internet Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins

From Peter Mosiondz, Jr:

United States Early Half Dollar Die Varieties 1794-1836 (5th edition Overton - 2014), Don L. Parsley. This new edition is printed on a white-coated paper that will increase the ability to see detail on the coins. In addition, photographs are included for many of the listed die states as well. Rarities are included for every die marriage. The rarity ratings are revised from the fourth edition to reflect new values based upon knowledge gleaned from the past nine years since publication of the fourth edition. Also, the condition census is updated in this new edition. 701 pp. HB. DJ protected in Brodart Mylar®. New. One copy for sale at $55.00 postpaid.

Peter Mosiondz, Jr.
26 Cameron Circle
Laurel Springs, NJ 08021-4861
Phone: 856-627-6865
Email: choochoopete(at)
JRCS 867