This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Where are the wear points on the Susan B. Anthony dollar design?
Quoting the then-chief engraver Frank Gasparro, “The high points are the hair lines just above the ear on the obverse, and the head of the eagle on the reverse.” As with every other current U.S. coin design, “The portrait ... tends to eat up the metal and not leave enough for the ... reverse design to come up properly.”
What is a “type date?”
It’s another way of saying that a particular date is common, or typical in value for the series, as opposed to a “key” or rare date.
What happens when a coin is struck on a bent planchet?
This is normally impossible on a modern coin press, since a bent planchet will not pass through the feed mechanism. On a screw press, the result would be a poor strike, so a standard tool for the operator was a hammer to flatten the planchets.
What is a piece punch?
It was a punch with the bust or other central design on it, used to stamp the design into the face of a die. It was an early form of the hub as we now know it, with the design in relief.
An old book refers to gold coins “passed by tale.” What does this mean?
Early gold coins of the 13th-17th centuries were not always the same weight or alloy, so in virtually all cases coins had to be weighed before they could be used in a transaction. With the advent of machine-struck coins it was possible to better standardize sizes and weights, with such advances as reeded edges to prevent shaving or clipping the coins to remove portions of the bullion. These modern coins gained the confidence of the merchants and the public, the scales were put away and the coins passed by count, tally or total of their face value. This meant that they passed by tale, rather than by weight.
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