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Is a Wire Rim a Manufacturing Defect? What is your opinion?

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When describing the diagnostic wire rim on a 1911-D $2.5 Indian I was told that it was just a manufacturing defect (See bought a pig in a poke)

 

In a previous thread about my purchase of a set of gold $2.5 gold Indian coins a pithy comment was made that the "wire rim on a coin is a manufacturing defect". With due respect to RWB, a wire rim is not, in my opinion, a manufacturing defect. First, if it were it should be listed as a Mint Error, it is not. The most well-known example of a coin catalogued not only with this trait in the red book but it is listed separately based on the presence or absence of a wire rim. The coin is, of course, the 1907 $20 High Relief gold piece by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

The wire rim occurs when a new die is used with a full planchet. The amount of gold, silver or whatever metal used in the planchet fills all of the devices and body of the coin with enough additional metal to have a small amount flow (under pressure the metal becomes fluid) out around the collar. A wire rim is created. It is found it usually occurs in very early die states or some proof coins. Sure, you could call it a manufacturing defect, but it is most often seen as a desirable trait. The wire rim may disappear over time with wear (the coin had it but it wore off or as the dies wear and as the metal flows there is no longer more metal than the dies can hold.

To the original point: the vast majority of the 1911-D gold $2.5, strong D coins have a wire rim. I have never seen a 1911-D gold $2.5, strong D without it. This is also a difficult attribute to counterfeit accurately. And so my comment that it is a diagnostic to look for. Yes, if it is not there it does not automatically mean that the coin is bad, but if it is there it is a good sign. That's all...

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No offense, but yes, a wire rim is a defect. When severe enough, it is considered a mint error (and is so designated by the TPGs).

 

And with all due respect, whenever RWB tells you something, you should listen very, very carefully. You may have your opinions, but he has years and volumes of research on the minting techniques of that era.

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...

To the original point: the vast majority of the 1911-D gold $2.5, strong D coins have a wire rim. I have never seen a 1911-D gold $2.5, strong D without it. This is also a difficult attribute to counterfeit accurately. And so my comment that it is a diagnostic to look for. Yes, if it is not there it does not automatically mean that the coin is bad, but if it is there it is a good sign. That's all...

 

Not sure why you got your britches all in a bunch about RWB's comment.

 

Can the wire rim be both a diagnostic and still an as made manufacturing defect? Sure it can. It's not an insult to you, your coin, or anything else. It is simply a fact.

 

RWB (Roger W. Burdette) literally wrote the book on minting techniques. You'd be wise to take his comments to heart, and not as insults. He is one of the most helpful and knowledgeable people in all of numismatics (maybe the most).

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The thing pointed to in the photo is a fin. A fin is a manufacturing defect - nothing more or less. On a gold coin, a fin was a significant problem because it wore off quickly and reduced the value of gold in the coin.

 

The term "wire rim" has no meaning. It implies an intentional product of manufacturing or design, which is untrue. It also suggests a specific shape analogy and a uniformity of appearance which is also untrue. Further, the false term "wire rim" is used in at least two different situations, and that fails the logic test of unique naming.

 

To state that "most 1911-D $2.50 have a fin" or other defect at a certain position is fine - it's one of several characteristics useful in identifying the date/mint and validating it's authenticity. But - one must be cautious in claiming that a transient manufacturing defect is definitive.

 

The term "wire rim" has been in misuse for a long time. It will likely take just as long for collectors to adapt to reality as it was to accept fiction. :)

 

 

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No offense, but yes, a wire rim is a defect. When severe enough, it is considered a mint error (and is so designated by the TPGs).

 

 

Indeed, a 'wire rim" that was not intended as part of the design is a mint error, but they are usually too minor to be noted on the slab. I have submitted some incredible examples that NGC would not designate.

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Obviously, those of you with 3000-13,000 posts on this Board spend a lot of time and energy here. I can assure you that my britches are not bunched. brg5658, maybe you misunderstood, or do not know the meaning of the word "pithy".

 

I have not posted thousands of comments. But I have tried to make my posts interesting to the general viewing Collectors Society members. I try to bring up things that I think are controversial or things that may point out a problem in numismatics.

 

Thank you RWB for your "pithy" comment on this thread. [Pithy; 1) brief, using few words in a clever and effective way, 2) having substance and point : tersely cogent](Cogent comes from the Latin cogito "to think".

 

I think that you have verbally illustrated the problem that my post, with a picture, was trying to get at. Specifically, this attribute (I will use that word so as not to be confusing) appears to be a positive attribute on some coins (the 1907 $20 high relief coin) and others it may be used as one aspect to verify authenticity (1911–D $2.5) and ultimately if the dies are offset and the "fin" is high enough then it is an error. That was the conundrum I was trying to raise for discussion.

 

If you look at Jeff Garrett's description for the 1911–D on the NGC Coin Expolrer it says "The issue is usually well struck and is peculiar in that nearly every genuine example is seen with a pronounced wire rim on the obverse."

 

With reference to physics-fan3.14's comment, Jeff Garrett has written "the book" as well.

 

I am a scientist by trade and numismatics is only a avocation and rarely a vocation. But as a scientist I recognize that sometimes the most insightful discoveries come from people who are new to the field or young (I am neither of these things). They don't bring with them the biases and preconceived notions that the "book" is always right. In science you cannot survive by simply reinforcing the status quo. So, Mr Burrette's comment on this thread clarified that there is significant conflict in the meaning and the way that we use the term "wire rim". As a community we would do well to decide what we mean when we write about Wire Rims.

 

 

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Obviously, those of you with 3000-13,000 posts on this Board spend a lot of time and energy here. I can assure you that my britches are not bunched. brg5658, maybe you misunderstood, or do not know the meaning of the word "pithy".

 

I have not posted thousands of comments. But I have tried to make my posts interesting to the general viewing Collectors Society members. I try to bring up things that I think are controversial or things that may point out a problem in numismatics.

 

Thank you RWB for your "pithy" comment on this thread. [Pithy; 1) brief, using few words in a clever and effective way, 2) having substance and point : tersely cogent](Cogent comes from the Latin cogito "to think".

 

I think that you have verbally illustrated the problem that my post, with a picture, was trying to get at. Specifically, this attribute (I will use that word so as not to be confusing) appears to be a positive attribute on some coins (the 1907 $20 high relief coin) and others it may be used as one aspect to verify authenticity (1911–D $2.5) and ultimately if the dies are offset and the "fin" is high enough then it is an error. That was the conundrum I was trying to raise for discussion.

 

If you look at Jeff Garrett's description for the 1911–D on the NGC Coin Expolrer it says "The issue is usually well struck and is peculiar in that nearly every genuine example is seen with a pronounced wire rim on the obverse."

 

With reference to physics-fan3.14's comment, Jeff Garrett has written "the book" as well.

 

I am a scientist by trade and numismatics is only a avocation and rarely a vocation. But as a scientist I recognize that sometimes the most insightful discoveries come from people who are new to the field or young (I am neither of these things). They don't bring with them the biases and preconceived notions that the "book" is always right. In science you cannot survive by simply reinforcing the status quo. So, Mr Burrette's comment on this thread clarified that there is significant conflict in the meaning and the way that we use the term "wire rim". As a community we would do well to decide what we mean when we write about Wire Rims.

 

 

I actually think it is semantics to argue whether or not to call it a fin or a wire rim. It is still the same animal. And, if it was not intended by the mint, it is a mint error. It may be that the 1911-D was intended to have this rim, in which case, it was not an error. Pithy!

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RE: "...appears to be a positive attribute on some coins (the 1907 $20 high relief coin)...."

 

I don't know that collectors of MCMVII DE consider it positive or negative. Original mint correspondence clearly shows that the fin was a defect and entirely negative in 1907. This was expressed by the mint director, coiner, and engraver, and led to considerable morale problems in Philadelphia where the Adjusters were trying to pull out the worst of the finned coins. The director was getting complaints about the fin from Sub-treasuries, and there was a lot of tension over the problem. All this led to director Leach working with engraver Barber to alter the upsetting of blanks. This resulted in coins with only a slight, thicker fin and coins so good that Barber was concerned that President Roosevelt would order manufacture continued well into 1908.

 

As for the "semantic" approach, I will disagree. The obsolete term "wire rim" is in use for at least two completely different coinage phenomena. Further, it implies something that has never existed on United States Coinage. Last, it isn't even an accurate description of what is visible. The Mint has long used the term "fin" and it is both correctly descriptive and fully understood by professionals in the minting business and many coin collectors.

 

Obviously, collectors will call things what they wish - whether the language is accurate or not. But, if the opportunity exists to improve - to be clearer and more accurately descriptive - why not embrace the improvement?

 

[A similar discussion has been occurring within the professional numismatic end of the hobby for about the last decade. Old habits....and all that stuff... :) ]

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Thank You all for your thoughtful comments. My original goal in starting this thread was achieved; to stimulate an interesting discussion of the topic. I guess I will call it a fin from now on.

 

As for old habits die hard, does anyone care to take on the fact that based on the current research it is impossible for the Gobrecht dollar, name below base (Judd 58), to have proceeded the circulation strike with name on base (Judd 60)? Every year I wait for the red book change this and so far no luck. According to Ken Bressett this section (Gobrecht dollar) of the Red Book has been rewritten more than any other single section and yet...

 

Again thank you all for your thoughts and comments.

 

John

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RE: "...appears to be a positive attribute on some coins (the 1907 $20 high relief coin)...."

 

I don't know that collectors of MCMVII DE consider it positive or negative. Original mint correspondence clearly shows that the fin was a defect and entirely negative in 1907. This was expressed by the mint director, coiner, and engraver, and led to considerable morale problems in Philadelphia where the Adjusters were trying to pull out the worst of the finned coins. The director was getting complaints about the fin from Sub-treasuries, and there was a lot of tension over the problem. All this led to director Leach working with engraver Barber to alter the upsetting of blanks. This resulted in coins with only a slight, thicker fin and coins so good that Barber was concerned that President Roosevelt would order manufacture continued well into 1908.

 

As for the "semantic" approach, I will disagree. The obsolete term "wire rim" is in use for at least two completely different coinage phenomena. Further, it implies something that has never existed on United States Coinage. Last, it isn't even an accurate description of what is visible. The Mint has long used the term "fin" and it is both correctly descriptive and fully understood by professionals in the minting business and many coin collectors.

 

Obviously, collectors will call things what they wish - whether the language is accurate or not. But, if the opportunity exists to improve - to be clearer and more accurately descriptive - why not embrace the improvement?

 

[A similar discussion has been occurring within the professional numismatic end of the hobby for about the last decade. Old habits....and all that stuff... :) ]

 

OK, lets agree to call it a fin. The question was, is it a mint error or not a mint error. I argue that in most cases, it is a mint error.

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