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Source of arrow heads on 1853 coins

7 posts in this topic

Addition of arrow heads on reduced-weight subsidiary silver coins of 1853 was suggested and implemented by Engraver Longacre. This payment receipt establishes who made the arrow head punches and the approximate date they were delivered to the Philadelphia Mint.

18520617 Longacre order for arrow head punches.jpg

Mint of the United States

 To: W. Dougherty

 4 Arrowhead punches             $1.50 ea           Debit $6.00

 Philadelphia, June 17, 1852


/signed/ James B. Longacre

 Received payment 17 June ‘52

/signed/ William Dougherty

Edited by RWB
Fix formatting - as usual
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1 hour ago, Juno Moneta said:

That's a great little piece of numismatic history, the arrows, and one year type, are the reason I collect 1853. They added pizazz! 


You got to love that Rays reverse, too.

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Both these were Longacre's suggestions. The Sec Treasury preferred new coin designs, but Longacre argued that there was no time to do that and mentioned, with support of other Mint Officers, that the present designs were already crowded and few things could be changed quickly.

Later, an invitation-only design competition was proposed, but Sec. Treasury eventually vetoed that in favor of "improving the mechanical performance" of current coins.

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PS: The Mint director expected to pay about $2,500 (including hubs) for a new silver coin design - that's more than the Mint pays artists today! No wonder we get crappy, comic-book junk!


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Yep, the Rays were even a more dramatic addition than the arrow heads. I can't agree more that today's designs are not appealing to old school collectors, the digital processing has gone too far. And while I'm complaining... I might as well mention the overall dislike I have for slabbing companies. I get the necessity as it relates to investor interests but they slab based on preservation rather than the more important factors of strike, die state, and eye-appeal. What a racket they've set up for themselves slabbing the modern issues that are basically carbon copies (really old school term) of each other. I imagine it's like having sex with one of those plastic robot chicks!

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