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1838 Liberty Seated Half Dime Small Stars OBV. Why the stars are small and other

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excuse me while I try to sound smarter than I really am smile.gif


1838 Liberty Seated Half Dime started out looking like this






Blythe (1992) says that Valentine (1931) says (time for a new book maybe?) that there are 15 varieties.


The dies used at the Philedelphia mint became severly rusted. Picture that the die is a reverse, or negative, of the coin and the rust when built up on the DIE would result in pits on the COIN. Any mark you make INTO the die results in a raised effect on the coin so as the rust flaked off creating a pit on the die you then get raised images on the coin. The arms and head of Liberty on the small stars variety show the results of a rusted die.




Unhappy with coins that looked like this they took their files (or sandpaper or whatever) to the die and ground down the spots that were hosting the offensive rust. What this did to the coin can be easily seen using a stereoscope (these suckers 13% smaller than a dime to begin with so looking for this crazy stuff hurts my eyes).


Filing on the HIGH points of the die causes the deep relief portions of the coins to be more shallow as illustrated in the following picture. The area surrounding the pole in the original die would have been a high point on the die resulting in deep field on either side of the pole on the coin. The filed area results in a "filled in" look on the sides of the pole. Notice it LOOKS like the pole was ground down but that's backwards thinking it's the field "erosion" that allows more metal to flow near the crevice of the pole on the die making the field higher not the pole smaller.


In the abovepicture you can see raised lines in the field around the pole and hat those are scratches inadvertently made in the die during alteration that result in lines on the coin.




On the shield you can see again that filing and thus lowering the depth to which the LIBERTY should have been pressed into the coin results in the mushy T Y (black arrow). The red arrows show some more accidental scratching into the die that results in raised area's on the coin.





The field next to the device on the coin would be the high spot on the die to create the low spot next to it as illustrated in the next picture near the leg. The black markers are to illustrate what sections of the coins are similar in location since the illustration rotation isn't consistant. The field being filed down causing a sort of rounding on the die results in a less "crisp" impression of the leg. This can be seen in numerous places around the coin leading me to think the whole field was suffering from rust to some degree OR they were using some filing tools that were pretty big compared to the die. Not hard to imagine remembering the die was 15.5 millimeters!!



Filing in the field around the date almost blended the base of the main device (which I believe is the ground the rock is sitting on) into the date. Not a great pic but there is so little definition in the worn die it's hard to capture something that isn't there.




The biggest thing I've seen on the REVERSE of the coin is a blob on the E of DIME. The reverse of the coin isn't mentioned by Blythe but when you look at the early coin with the flow lines (little lines showing the flow of the metal into the die I believe) present and no "blobbing" around the E compared to the later coin it looks like an adjusment was made to me BUT with a couple reverses known for this date and me only having 2 examples i'd appreciate any input on this point if there is anyone still reading at this point smile.gif



Mushy Denticles Mushy Denticles Mushy Denticles






The attribution of the coin. It's referred to as 1838 Liberty Seated Half Dime (Small Stars). Now we know it could have been called

1838 Liberty Seated Half Dime (scaly skin) or

1838 Liberty Seated Half Dime (skinny pole) or

1838 Liberty Seated Half Dime (blobby E)

1838 Liberty Seated Half Dime (mushy denticles)


BUT the stars won that contest and here's what they're talking about. The stars being raised on the coin were deep pockets on the die so they weren't ground down themselves BUT the filing of the field again erodes the edges of the hole on the DIE that defines the stars and makes the hole more shallow allowing less metal to flow there making a smaller DEVICE. I'm guessing if you were good enough and could measure with some super duper calipers the thickness of the coins between the points of the stars you'd see that on the worn die the coin would be a teeny tiny bit thicker because the sharp edge defining the coin was ground off and only the deepest point of the star showed up on the final coin. This is a picture of the 3rd star (remember start at the bottom of the coin and count clockwise around the outside). The die on right side was not as rusted and didn't need as much filing so you can actually see that the 11th and 12th stars on the same coin are much fatter than the first few. This picture points out the denticles for rotation reference as again I messed up the orientation of the inset photo.





Thanks to everyone on the forum who has posted for the last 2 or 3 years teaching me about metal flow, rusty dies, coin imaging, minting processes and please feel free to correct anything that's wrong with this post right here in public so we can all continue to learn.

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