1885-O with a very interesting surface... (Warning Large Images)

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by jtlee321, Dec 19, 2020.

  1. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    So I picked up this very interesting Morgan Dollar today. It's a common date 1885-O with a far less common PL/DMPL surface. But what really made me interested in it, is the pitting all over the mirrored fields. My first thought was a very rusty die that had been polished up. But that did not fit, as the marking on the surface is pitted and not raised. Had the die been rusty with pits it would have left raised areas on the coin. So I really started looking at the coins devices, thinking it was possibly PMD. That did not match, as the pitting was not appearing on Liberty or the Eagle or any of the other devices. In fact, close examination reveals that the pitting actually seams to go under the devices in some areas.

    My conclusion is it has to be some sort of debris that was either on the dies surface or clinging to the planchet prior to striking. Now I'm trying to figure out what it could have been. My guess is dirt and grease or possibly wood particles of some sort.

    The bummer part about this coin is that a previous owner thought they could possibly remove the marks in the field with a jewelers cloth or something. As it is cleaned and you can see the light wipe marks when they run perpendicular to the light source. It's not bad enough for me to have passed on it, but it will preclude it from straight grading. Which is unfortunate as the fields have a clear reflectivity out between 8 and 10 inches. But for the price I paid, It will find a new home with a collector that will appreciate it for it's uniqueness.

    Below are very high resolution images of the coin for those who would like to really look at these extremely interesting surfaces.

    On a side note, this 1885-O is a VAM-25 which is found in PL in early die states. It's the result of a die that had clashed and then was polished up to try and remove the evidence of the clashing. The later die states of this VAM, the VAM-25a is a tough to find coin, with really nice die breaks and a displaced field break.

    Any thoughts or comments are always welcome. I'd love to hear others opinions on what this pitting could be the result of.

    NOS, capthank, Two Dogs and 3 others like this.
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  3. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    I'd love to get @messydesk and @Dave Waterstraat opinion's on the piece.

    I really wish it had never been wiped. I know if would have been cool to get a DMPL struck through error coin.
  4. Beefer518

    Beefer518 Well-Known Member

    Looks like a severely flawed planchet. I don't think it's a struck-through.
    jtlee321 likes this.
  5. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    That was a consideration as well, except planchet flaws tend to show most on the high points of a coin, since they receive less of the striking pressure. The fields in this coin appear to be the areas most affected, which are the areas of the planchet receiving the most striking force. It's a head scratcher for sure.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2020
  6. Paddy54

    Paddy54 Hey brother can you spare a half dime?

    Sawdust strike thru perhaps as sawdust was used to clean up all sorts of messes. From blood off the buchers shop floors to grease, and oil in plants,and machine shops.
    kazuma78 and jtlee321 like this.
  7. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Planchets were dried in sawdust, and sawdust strike-thrus plague 83-O, 84-O, and 85-O. This one seems pretty extreme.

    OP coin is indeed VAM 25. I just had a VAM 25A cross my desk today. Cool coin with a shattered obverse die.
    Stevearino and jtlee321 like this.
  8. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    This is what I am leaning towards the most. It seems the most plausible cause. I was very surprised to not find more of it struck into the devices. My guess would be the surface of the dies were oiled after polishing and then sawdust was used to absorb the excess maybe? The oil was not applied to the surfaces of the devices, so they remained clear of the sawdust as it was casually discarded from the die prior to use.
    Dave Waterstraat and Paddy54 like this.
  9. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    I keep looking for a 25a, have yet to find one. The hunt is the best part though.
  10. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    I was thinking about the sawdust on the planchet itself as well. But as I mentioned above, there is a lack of struck through debris on the devices. I would think if the sawdust was on the planchet the pitting would appear over the entire surface and not just the fields. Would you agree on that? If not, I am open to suggestions. I'm just trying to think through this logically.
  11. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Thinking of all the sawdust coins I've seen, the sawdust tends to be near the edge. I'm wondering if the reason is that the upset rim of the planchet allows sawdust to collect near the edge more easily than in the center.
    jtlee321 likes this.
  12. COOPER12

    COOPER12 Well-Known Member

    25A is a cool coin
    john65999 and capthank like this.
  13. COOPER12

    COOPER12 Well-Known Member

    This is a amazing looking coin in my opinion , very unique.
    jtlee321 likes this.
  14. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    That makes sense. I'm curious as to how many sawdust dollars you have seen with PL/DMPL fields? I think what really makes this one interesting is the contrast of the mirrored fields and the very rough impressions left from the debris.
  15. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    That is exactly what drew me to it. It's just not something you see everyday. I would love to have sent this one in for grading. I have a couple of other Mint errors I want to submit as well.
    COOPER12 likes this.
  16. COOPER12

    COOPER12 Well-Known Member

    yeah I will be keeping my eye out for something like this. Amazing photos by the way . I need to learn to take better photos
    jtlee321 likes this.
  17. jtlee321

    jtlee321 Well-Known Member

    Thank you. I just shot some new images using axial lighting. I shows what I like to call the "Full Moon Effect". The glassy surfaces reflect the light directly into the lens and the pitting looks like craters on the moon. What I really like about it, is the texture really pops. I've also been able to spot some of the impressions left by the debris that was trapped down in the recesses of the devices.

    Dynoking, capthank and COOPER12 like this.
  18. messydesk

    messydesk Well-Known Member

    Not many, but we are talking about less than 3% of the total population of 83-O, 84-O, and 85-O that are PL to begin with. Much as PL surfaces make contact marks stand out, they make sawdust dents look like craters. Put another way, a lot of sawdust marks can hide in a lustrous field undetected until you go looking for them.
  19. Dave Waterstraat

    Dave Waterstraat Well-Known Member

    Very interesting Morgan. I would have grabbed that one as well just for the cool factor if nothing else..
    jtlee321 likes this.
  20. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder Supporter

    Amazingly detailed photos, Justin! On the axial photos I can really see the shapes of the individual impressions really well. One thought that comes to mind: dies were polished with a fine abrasive like emery powder. What if the powder wasn't wiped off the die before coins were struck, leaving the impressions in the fields?
    jtlee321 and capthank like this.
  21. COOPER12

    COOPER12 Well-Known Member

    very nice as well. I need to build a set up to just get half decent pics to start and not use my camera phone. My wife is a photographer but does more documentary photography , She has a really good camera but not the correct lenses
    jtlee321 likes this.
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