Featured Two Very Similar 1808 Classic Head Cents

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by Eduard, Feb 27, 2018.

  1. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    Reviewing recently the Heritage archives for the 1808 Classic Head, variety S-278 I came across this example which interestingly shows very similar striking characteristics to an example in my collection.

    This is the Heritage example:
    The auction description for this coins reads: ''The uneven strike suggests misaligned dies or a tapered planchet. The obverse is extremely weak from 6 to 10 o'clock, and the reverse is similarly weak from 8 to 12 o'clock''.

    1808 Cent S-278 OBV (from Heritage)  - 1.jpg 1808 Cent S-278 REV (from Heritage)  - 1.jpg

    This is my example. It shows the same obverse and reverse peripheral weakness. This weakness is not common in S-278 (of 73 examples of S-278 listed, only 3 or 4 show similar striking weakness).

    It therefore occurred to me that both of these coins must have been struck from the same section of planchet strip (that was tapered so as to cause the weakness when struck), and possibly also within a very short time span from each other.

    This is the only way that I can explain the similarity in strike. I think this is a 'quaint' occurrence, to find two such similar examples 200 years after they were minted. The die state for both coins should also very similar - maybe somebody more adept with die states than I am can comment on this.
    My example was found in Europe. It travelled a long way from its 'cousin'.

    1808 Cent S-278 OBV (my example) - 1.jpg 1808 Cent S-278 REV (my example) - 1.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
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  3. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    That is quite a significant occurrence. Another reason to love this hobby. That’s way cool.
    Eduard likes this.
  4. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    I like yours more than the Heritage coin.
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  5. Jack D. Young

    Jack D. Young Well-Known Member

    s-278.jpg Cool coin! Found this example, image courtesy of PCGS for comparison.
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  6. justafarmer

    justafarmer Senior Member

    Do you not find it extremely coincidental that these tapered planchets were loaded into the coin press with the taper at the same orientation - Not just two but for three different coins?
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  7. Marshall

    Marshall Junior Member

    I have an alternative theory for the cause of a few similar coins such as yours. It is that axial misalignment did occur, but was discovered and fixed quickly so most would not have been affected.

    A good caliper should tell the tale. The sharper side should have field thickness slightly less than the duller side if misaligned. This is particularly possible if the misalignment occurred at the end of a day or if the press was changed for production of another denomination before being returned to service. This would also explain the consistency of location of the weakness rather than a random one.

    I love speculating on the cause as long as everybody knows it's speculation.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  8. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    Yes, I think as well that axial misalignment (misaligned dies) is the most probable cause.
    As mentioned, of the 73 S-278's listed in the HA archives, at most 4 show this feature on the coin, so yes, this indicates that the press operator discovered this fairly quickly and proceeded to correct the die misalignment.

    If this is the case, in my opinion the die state of all such 'misaligned die' coins should be similar - but here I venture into a territory that I do not master well
    (if at all).

    Aren't early coppers just fascinating?
  9. TJC

    TJC Well-Known Member

    Nice and interesting coins Eduard. Yours is very nice!
    Another factor may be a grease filled die. Yes early coppers are fascinating!
    Eduard likes this.
  10. Marshall

    Marshall Junior Member

    While Classic Heads are not my specialty, these all appear to be Die State I. There is a stray mark at the top of the head to the rim on the last example, but it's not a die state marker so it'sprobably not from the dies.
  11. Marshall

    Marshall Junior Member

    This is the Breen Plate coin from the Heritage Archives described as State I and showing the weakness to the left and sharpness to the right:

    S-278 I.jpg
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  12. Marshall

    Marshall Junior Member

    Old Coppers are such a fascinating specialty because so many things can cause a variation in the finished product. Planchet differences and errors are common and confusing at times. Lamination errors are just one kind of error and have so many different faces.

    Then production errors as we suspect here. Alignment, missing or multiple strikes, foreign material in the dies including grease or polish can really throw off attribution efforts.

    Then the PMD on a metal prone to movement and environmental damage, both chemical and physical, make the detective's work more challenging to say the least.

    Perhaps that is why the numismatists are becoming scarcer as the plastic collectors thrive. Numismatists need a detectives heart.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
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  13. justafarmer

    justafarmer Senior Member

    I Believe the coin in your post is S-278 as opposed to S-279.

    S279.JPG 279 Overlay.JPG 278 Overlay.JPG
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  14. Jack D. Young

    Jack D. Young Well-Known Member

    I totally agree Marshall- a detective's approach to properly research and evaluate these, especially in light of current attempts to deceptively counterfeit them...
    Eduard likes this.
  15. Jack D. Young

    Jack D. Young Well-Known Member

  16. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    I have just noticed that the HA description for the S-278 Marshall shows mentions that 'the centering is typical of early die states, with the lower obverse border missing and the upper obverse border bold'.
    This observation seems to confirm that all 'weakly struck' examples happened early on in the life of the S-278 die-pair.
  17. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    This one is not an 1808, S-278, (it is an S-277) but I would like to post it here as well as it is a very nice example (and the best preserved in my small Classic Head collection by far).

    1808 Cent Peus - OBV3 - 1.jpg 1808 Cent Peus - REV - 1.jpg
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  18. Jack D. Young

    Jack D. Young Well-Known Member

    "12 star" state- nice example.
    Eduard likes this.
  19. Gilbert

    Gilbert Part time collector Supporter

    A heavily corroded example from my collection with the same weak strike.

    image.jpeg image.jpeg
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  20. TheFinn

    TheFinn Well-Known Member

    If they were both struck from the same strip, wouldn't it also be necessary that both blanks were turned in the same orientation? More likely the dies were misaligned.
  21. justafarmer

    justafarmer Senior Member

    A little late to the party - S-277 (Green), S-278 (Orange), S-279 (Blue) overlaid. 277 278 279.JPG
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