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One extra ray in Liberty

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Eagle-eyed variety coin aficionado Rich Darby of New York State has found a Denver version of a Thomas Jefferson Presidential dollar with a die clash resulting in an aberration that makes the rays in Liberty’s crown (on the reverse) appear to have an eighth ray where there are normally seven.

It appears between Liberty’s neck and the first ray from the viewer’s left. He recently found six of them out of six uncirculated rolls he obtained from a local bank.

This a virtual carbon copy of one I reported upon in October of 2007 on the CONECA website for the Denver version of the coin found by Byron Jones.  Like Darby’s specimen, it was accompanied by other clash marks on the reverse, including one that jutted out from Liberty’s neck like an arrowhead toward the “extra ray.” I found the effects of his coin to be so interesting that I listed it in my Variety Coin Register for the date, mint, denomination and type as VCR#1/CDR#1, the same number I’ve assigned to Darby’s Philadelphia version.

Additionally, back in December of 2007, I wrote about a 2007-P George Washington Presidential dollar submitted by Jose Gutierrez that exhibited a ray-like clash with the long slightly curved, clash mark falling between the fourth and fifth rays listed for the date, mint and type as VCR#1/CDR#1.

Perhaps equally as interesting is that at least one collector involved in the PCGS Registry set program has decided to collect Presidential dollars with die clashes (and other errors) as a subset within the normal set of these dollars, which he entitles “JE- Undergrade, Die Clash & Mint Error Set,” which he describes as: “This is my fun and interesting set. I have been collecting die clashes and other interesting mint errors. I will be replacing regular undergrade coins with other interesting coins as they become available.”

While his ambitions are obvious, so far he has only captured four “Extra Ray” clashed die specimens to add to his collection; two Washington dollars in Position A and B and two Jefferson dollars in both positions. The “positions” refer to the direction of which the tops of characters on the edge of the coin face. Tops facing the reverse are referred to by PCGS as Position A while those facing the obverse are designated Position B. Presidential and Native American business strike dollars will show the positions either way 50 percent of the time since the dollars are fed into the edge lettering machines at random with no attempt at standardization.

The JE- Undergrade collection is missing the 2007-P Jefferson dollar “Extra Ray” for both positions. Darby’s finds included four Position As and two Bs.

A die clash occurs when a planchet fails to enter into the coining chamber during a press cycle resulting in the obverse and reverse dies smashing or clashing into each other.  Areas of designs such as portraits, letters, etc., from the dies can be impressed into each other, (or just one side to the other), with the severity depending on the magnitude of the clash, number of times the dies clash, geometry of designs, etc. These marks will then be transferred to coins until the marks are removed.

Although interesting, the vast majority of clashes traditionally hold very little interest among collectors unless they are very unusual or strong. In the case of “Extra Ray” clashes only time will tell if they catch on to any significant degree.     

Ken Potter
is the official attributer of world doubled dies for the Combined Organizations of Numismatic Error Collectors of America and the National Collectors Association of Die Doubling.  He also privately lists other collectible variety types on both U.S. and world coins in the Variety Coin Register. More information on either of the clubs or how to get a coin listed in the Variety Coin Register may be obtained by sending a long, self-addressed envelope with 60 cents postage to P.O. Box 760232, Lathrup Village, MI 48076, or by contacting him via e-mail at KPotter256@aol.com. An educational image gallery may be viewed on his website at www.koinpro.com.

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