Unlocking the Die Manufacturing Process

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by justafarmer, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks very much for this post. Very informative. Look forward to seeing more.
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  3. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    From the letter is sounds like the central device is engraved incuse and a raised punch (what he called a hub) is created from that. Subsequent dies are created using the central device punch and then the rest of the things are punched in by hand. So what he states is the creation of a punch, not what I would call a hub.

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    While I can't swear to it, I think when he (Scott) used the word "hubb", he was using it more in line with the classical definition of the word as in the central part - of the design - which the bust or eagle would be. Not as what we think of a hub in today's world.

    But I'm with Conder, even if it has the entire bust or entire eagle, it's still just a punch. And die sinkers, even hundreds of years before the US Mint, used punches that contained the bust and or central part of the reverse design, and most importantly, they called them punches. And this is documented in mint archives.
  5. WFN

    WFN New Member

    Here is the image of the quoted portion of Robert Scot's report:
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  6. WFN

    WFN New Member

    Another part of Robert Scot's report, which resides at the National Archives in Philadelphia, describes more die terminology used by Scot:

    "With a compleat success in the preceeding processes which has hardly ever happened, a head Die as above may be finished in a day. The same may be reckoned on the half Cent head Die, and the same length of time for the Dies of their respective reverses. All other Dies are subject to the foregoing preparations and incidental circumstances. The dollar Original Die [now called master die] for the head, will take six or eight days. The same Die for its reverse, nearly the same time; and after the Hubbs are compleated, a head Die for striking money may be finished in two days, and the same Die of the reverse in the same time nearly. The half Dollar Dies, original and others in all their various processes may take nearly the same time with the Dollar Dies under the same circumstances. The half Disme Original Die for the head, may take about five days, and its reverse Die of the same kind, six. A day for the former and a day and a half for the latter in finishing the Coining Dies may be sufficient."

    Scot's usage of "Hubb" certainly came from the English word "hubbe" a variant of "hob" with one of the meanings: a steel pattern used in forming a mould or die in cold metal.

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
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  7. WFN

    WFN New Member

    Robert Scot also used the word "punch" which was distinctive in meaning from Die or Hubb. In the following sentence Scot emphasized what his primary duties as Engraver were:

    "Engraving and sinking all Original Dies, raising and finishing all Hubbs that are struck out of them, and raising and finishing all punches that may be requisite to the completion of Dies or Hubbs; letter punches excepted. These may be imported or procured from those of that profession."

    The usage of the word "punch" as Scot described, was for elements of the design such as stars, that were punched rather than engraved into a die.
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  8. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    Very interesting historical account. I find it especially interesting that letter (and presumably numeral) punches were imported from outside the mint. Are there known articles produced outside the mint that had lettering with punches identical to ones the mint used? I'm thinking of items like silverware, tableware, watch cases, pendants, plaques, etc.

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  9. WFN

    WFN New Member

    The most dominant typeface style used in publishing within the early United States was Caslon, designed by engraver William Caslon in London. This is the typeface style used in letter punches at the First US Mint. Jacob Bay was employed at the Mint cutting punches and coining until he died of yellow fever in the summer of 1793, Frederick Guyer took over as the punch cutter at the Mint after Bay died, and later punches were purchased from local typefounders/punch cutters (sources: Typefounding in America, Rollo Silver, and Anatomy of a Typeface, Alexander Lawson. Also National Archives Record Group 104, and numerous 18th century American published books that I own).

    The lettering was fairly consistent in style at the Mint, numerals had much more variance. Since Scot stated "letter punches excepted," I would not group numerals in with the letters unless more evidence is found.

    Engraved copperplate and silver was usually done in roundhand script, which Robert Scot was very proficient at and sought after - George Turner, Secretary of the Society of the Cincinnati, called Scot "the only engraver, perhaps, on the Continent, that can do it justice" when employing Scot to engrave the decorative roundhand script on the Society diploma.
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  10. WFN

    WFN New Member

    I wanted to add another item to this discussion, since it is available to read on the Newman Numismatic Portal. In the June, 2007 John Reich Journal I published an article "Master Die and Hub Changes for 1801-1807 Half Dollars, And Integration with 1799-1804 Gold Eagle Reverses." In the same issue was an article by Bryce Brown "Flowing Hair and Draped Bust Die Dentil Counts 1794-1807."

    The two articles were researched and written independently, and reached the same findings. One of the reverse working hubs for half dollars and $10 Eagles had 153 dentils, a count which occurred on each working die sunk from this working hub. This proved to be an experiment in hubbed dentils, engraved on the master die, which evidently did not work well and the Mint reverted back to engraved dentils on each working die. It also proved that some reverse master dies and hubs were shared with both half dollars and $10 Eagles, a strategy that reduced the total engraving effort (Robert Scot was the sole engraver at the Mint during this period).

    The article represents the most comprehensive study in specific master die/working hub/working die sequencing for the First US Mint, here is the NNP link: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/book/529788
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  11. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes?

    Everyone who calls themselves a numismatist should read Roger Burdette's book "From Mine to Mint." It goes into great detail of every aspect of the minting process - from mining the ore to when it gets paid out to the public. Every question posed in this thread is answered in this book, with copious reference to original mint memos.
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  12. calcol

    calcol Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the tip. I ordered the book. Cal
  13. justafarmer

    justafarmer Senior Member

    To be honest - I am still stuck on reconciling the difference between a punch vs. a hub.

    From what I have gathered thus far

    A Punch is a tool containing a design element used to transfer that design element to an opposing coin die.

    A Hub is a tool containing a design element and a face used to transfer that design element to and also establish the face of an opposing coin die.
  14. WFN

    WFN New Member

    "A Punch is a tool containing a design element used to transfer that design element to an opposing coin die.

    A Hub is a tool containing a design element and a face used to transfer that design element to and also establish the face of an opposing coin die."

    I agree with the definitions above by justafarmer, as I believe they match the definitions by Robert Scot's engraving report to Congress - Original Die/Hubb/Coining Die, along with his description of "punches." With Scot's description, a hubb is raised, in relief, from an incuse original die. Scot's process evidently started with a blank original [master] die, and the flat portion of this original die would be transferred to establish the flat portion (face) of the hubb.

    However, some numismatists refer to a "device punch" as a central design, without the lettering or numerals.
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