Question for Roger Burdette in regards to a 1927 special strike Buffalo Nickel.
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42 posts in this topic

Roger,

Have you ran across any mint letters regarding the special strike 1927 Buffalo Nickel? Supposedly, there are only 3, an SP65 and 2 SP66's. PCGS graded all three. I just wondered if the mint had any records of this special strike. Thanks,

Jim

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Posted (edited)

Jim - Do you mean the ones made with chromium plated dies? If so, those were experimental pieces that left the Philadelphia Mint. I don't know what PCGS says about the coins and the only important thing is authentication - the "grade" is meaningless.

See pages 35-36 in my book United States Proof Coins 1936 – 1942 for an explanation. I’ve not come across anything more on the subject; however, there are a lot of correspondence volumes remaining to be digitized and reviewed.

Edited by RWB
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Posted (edited)

I noticed the tangled thread on the PCGS board concerning these coins.

1) the description of 1927 nickels provided in the link is hopelessly garbled and filled with guesses and false assumptions.

2) there are no 1921 proof double eagles, and no "semi-proof" or other foolishness. They lack any authentic proof characteristics - George Morgan knew how to make authentic DE proofs on a medal press, either sandblasted or satin.

Edited by RWB
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Thank you, Roger. I felt you would know better than most in this regard. I thought it odd that it never popped up in any Buff conversations I had with Ron or Joe about this. I will check out your book. I have them all, at least the ones I know of.

Jim

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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

NGC certified several of the 1927 nickels from chromium-plated dies, but that was shortly before my arrival. In other words, it was in the Paleolithic Period.

https://www.ngccoin.com/coin-explorer/united-states/nickels/buffalo-five-cents-1913-1938/13998/1927-5c-sp/

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On 5/14/2022 at 2:43 PM, DWLange said:

NGC certified several of the 1927 nickels from chromium-plated dies, but that was shortly before my arrival. In other words, it was in the Paleolithic Period.

https://www.ngccoin.com/coin-explorer/united-states/nickels/buffalo-five-cents-1913-1938/13998/1927-5c-sp/

Interesting, do you think that the three PCGS examples were a part of these five and crossed at some point or examples in addition to these five that NGC certified?

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Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2022 at 4:43 PM, DWLange said:

NGC certified several of the 1927 nickels from chromium-plated dies, but that was shortly before my arrival. In other words, it was in the Paleolithic Period.

https://www.ngccoin.com/coin-explorer/united-states/nickels/buffalo-five-cents-1913-1938/13998/1927-5c-sp/

They sho’ nuff are purrrdy. Now comes the real controversy. Does the apparent destruction of records in the 1979-80 range make the coins “cease to exist”, as “Burdettian” thought processes require? Or do the coins truly “stand on their own” or “speak for themselves” as 1964 special coins are not allowed to? Sorry, but I just have to tweak noses over the fixation on documents. Am I enjoying being sarcastic about this? More than you could ever know. 

Edited by VKurtB
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On 5/14/2022 at 7:19 PM, Coinbuf said:

Interesting, do you think that the three PCGS examples were a part of these five and crossed at some point or examples in addition to these five that NGC certified?

There would have been a few for review by mint officers and those connected with the plating equipment. It was 7 or 8 years later that the surface crazing was understood, but most of the plating was done at the Bureau of Standards (now NIST).

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Roger,

If I read that right, it seems that the mint send hardened coinage dies to the Bureau of Standards to be plated. Is this in line with policy (Dies destined for San Fran were hardened at San Fran) or was this changed in the 1900s?

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On 5/14/2022 at 9:47 AM, jesbroken said:

Roger,

Have you ran across any mint letters regarding the special strike 1927 Buffalo Nickel? Supposedly, there are only 3, an SP65 and 2 SP66's. PCGS graded all three. I just wondered if the mint had any records of this special strike. Thanks,

Jim

How do you come up with “supposedly, there are only 3...” when there are 5 showing on the NGC census report?

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Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2022 at 6:19 PM, Coinbuf said:

Interesting, do you think that the three PCGS examples were a part of these five and crossed at some point or examples in addition to these five that NGC certified?

I realize that the question wasn’t directed at me, but I was grading at NGC when at least some of the coins surfaced. I’m not positive, but I believe that the combined NGC/PCGS population represents the same group of just five examples.

Edited by MarkFeld
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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

I believe there are only the five that NGC certified in the early 1990s. All or some may have crossed, but unless the old tags are returned to NGC they will continue to appear in the Census.

However one wants to describe them, they are indeed something quite different from ordinary circulation strikes. I've never seen any other 1927 nickels with such definition in the Indian's braid and the hair above it.

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On 5/14/2022 at 7:22 PM, VKurtB said:

They sho’ nuff are purrrdy. Now comes the real controversy. Does the apparent destruction of records in the 1979-80 range make the coins “cease to exist”, as “Burdettian” thought processes require? Or do the coins truly “stand on their own” or “speak for themselves” as 1964 special coins are not allowed to? Sorry, but I just have to tweak noses over the fixation on documents. Am I enjoying being sarcastic about this? More than you could ever know. 

Absolutely worthless comment on the value of documentation. 

You know better than to post stuff like this, unless you're just trying to denigrate other members.  Comparing these coins to the 64 SMS is apples to oranges, and if you don't know that, then I've been giving you too much credit as a numismatist.

Everybody knows that you have don't like the way Roger does research.  However you seem to be in the minority.  Research adds to the body of knowledge. Good research helps everyone and bad research eventually gets weeded out (i.e. some of Brown's contributions).  

If you're want to add to this thread, great.  But if you just want to take pot shots at another member, you're just wasting bandwidth.

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On 5/15/2022 at 10:01 AM, Oldhoopster said:

Comparing these coins to the 64 SMS is apples to oranges

Oh I don’t know (literally - I’ve never seen either in my hand), the language surrounding them sounds identical. “Stand on their own”, “speak for themselves”. You know as well as I do that both the 1964 stuff and the 1927 Buffs carry around the exact same descriptions. Has anybody looked around for chromium 1964 dies?

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Posted (edited)
On 5/15/2022 at 10:01 AM, Oldhoopster said:

Everybody knows that you have don't like the way Roger does research.  However you seem to be in the minority

I dunno about that either. When I take potshots, I seem to get plenty of “likes”. Do you, “hoop”? The salient point EVERYONE needs to keep in mind is that records are often incomplete and SOMETIMES even include bald-faced lies. Records get the benefit of no cross-examination, but VERY often they should be taken with a TRUCKLOAD of salt. 

Edited by VKurtB
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On 5/15/2022 at 10:01 AM, Oldhoopster said:

out (i.e. some of Brown's contributions).  

Did you mean Breen here?

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On 5/14/2022 at 10:24 PM, FlyingAl said:

Roger,

If I read that right, it seems that the mint send hardened coinage dies to the Bureau of Standards to be plated. Is this in line with policy (Dies destined for San Fran were hardened at San Fran) or was this changed in the 1900s?

National Bureau of Standards (NIST) is a secure and trusted government location and the only non-commercial place with scientific expertise sufficient to do the plating and understand the results. We can guess that the chromium microfractures mentioned in latter documents were noticed in 1927, but without the internal correspondence (and possibly a report) we can't know.

From the latter 1930s and into 1943 (cent dies) chromium plating began production use on foreign dies, some proof dies (along with different alloy steel), and in 1943 of a substantial proportion of cent dies. (Chromium plated dies were less likely to clog with zinc dust.)

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Posted (edited)

RE: "Does the apparent destruction of records in the 1979-80 range make the coins “cease to exist”, as “Burdettian” thought processes require? Or do the coins truly “stand on their own” or “speak for themselves” as 1964 special coins are not allowed to? Sorry, but I just have to tweak noses over the fixation on documents."

Numismatics without documentary research is like practicing law without written laws. Of course that fits the ignorance of an alleged lawyer some vigilante, seat-of-the-pants justice place.

The coins are as they appear, but they cannot "stand on their own" because what we "think we see" is only part of the story, and easily subject to honest (or biased) misinterpretation. Research is investigation - as necessary in numismatics as in any other field of interest - it is part of the search for truth and reality.

Personally, I have hope that more information about the 1927 experiments remains in Mint archives. There are more than 100 volumes of correspondence covering the period of interest that have never been opened. There might also be an internal report on the subject, tucked away in an as-yet unexamined file box. We don't know, but we have the means to find out, rather than brush the subject off as, "Well, they speak for themselves," bologna. (Coins do not "speak for themselves." They speak for our biases and presumptions built on individual and collective  ignorance. Here's an example from an active thread: "This one then edge looks like a die bleed or something on the edge amd the 4 looks double the word TRUST looks like flat smooshed letters." To the writer of that sentence, the coin is "speaking for itself." Add a bit more numismatic terminology and you have "1964 SMS coins." )

Edited by RWB
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Posted (edited)
On 5/15/2022 at 11:36 AM, RWB said:

RE: "Does the apparent destruction of records in the 1979-80 range make the coins “cease to exist”, as “Burdettian” thought processes require? Or do the coins truly “stand on their own” or “speak for themselves” as 1964 special coins are not allowed to? Sorry, but I just have to tweak noses over the fixation on documents."

Numismatics without documentary research is like practicing law without written laws. Of course that fits the ignorance of an alleged lawyer some vigilante, seat-of-the-pants justice place.

The coins are as they appear, but they cannot "stand on their own" because what we "think we see" is only part of the story, and easily subject to honest (or biased) misinterpretation. Research is investigation - as necessary in numismatics as in any other field of interest - it is part of the search for truth and reality.

Personally, I have hope that more information about the 1927 experiments remains in Mint archives. There are more than 100 volumes of correspondence covering the period of interest that have never been opened. There might also be an internal report on the subject, tucked away in an as-yet unexamined file box. We don't know, but we have the means to find out, rather than brush the subject off as, "Well, they speak for themselves," bologna. (Coins do not "speak for themselves." They speak for our biases and presumptions built on individual and collective  ignorance. Here's an example from an active thread: "This one then edge looks like a die bleed or something on the edge amd the 4 looks double the word TRUST looks like flat smooshed letters." To the writer of that sentence, the coin is "speaking for itself." Add a bit more numismatic terminology and you have "1964 SMS coins." )

I wish you the best in your search for more as of yet unfound documentation. Suffice it to say I don’t share your optimism. The law only ever TRIES to use the “best evidence available” and does not abandon fact finding when sub-optimal evidence is all that exists. In numismatics, we have to always be willing, if we need to, to base fact finding on the “best available evidence, which can be, on occasion, expert eyeballs. 
 

Some things are true even in the complete absence of evidence, documentary or otherwise. And some things are false even when accompanied by voluminous documentation. 
 

Truth, much like life itself, is messier than we might like. Not every point requires a footnote. 

Edited by VKurtB
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On 5/15/2022 at 12:59 PM, VKurtB said:

I wish you the best in your search for more as of yet unfound documentation. Suffice it to say I don’t share your optimism. The law only ever TRIES to use the “best evidence available” and does not abandon fact finding when sub-optimal evidence is all that exists. In numismatics, we have to always be willing, if we need to, to base fact finding on the “best available evidence, which can be, on occasion, expert eyeballs. 

Your quote from above

we have to always be willing, if we need to, to base fact finding on the “best available evidence, which can be, on occasion, expert eyeballs

If the best data are expert eyeballs, so be it, but we still need to expand the body of knowledge.  Each discovery and each bit from contemporary correspondence are new puzzle pieces that were lost/hidden from us. Keep putting together the new pieces and we all learn more.  Sometimes, the data leads us down the wrong path, but many times that's due to biases.  More puzzle pieces = higher probability of understanding the picture

Sorry, to derail this thread, but I couldn't let this go unchallenged, especially when the post offered nothing of substance to the discussion of the 1927 special strikes (It was nothing more than a slam to satisfy a personal vendetta against another member). Compiling and documenting data is good for the hobby.  It builds the body of knowledge and can help us learn and grow.

 

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On 5/15/2022 at 10:19 AM, RWB said:

National Bureau of Standards (NIST) is a secure and trusted government location and the only non-commercial place with scientific expertise sufficient to do the plating and understand the results.

While NIST is certainly a trusted government location, so is the San Francisco mint. The reason the dies were sent unhardened was to alleviate fears of the dies being stolen in transport, correct? 
 

Is it possible the mint relaxed this policy so that they could experiment with the plating, thereby allowing some security concerns for the possibility of increased die longevity?

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On 5/15/2022 at 1:30 PM, FlyingAl said:

While NIST is certainly a trusted government location, so is the San Francisco mint. The reason the dies were sent unhardened was to alleviate fears of the dies being stolen in transport, correct? 
 

Is it possible the mint relaxed this policy so that they could experiment with the plating, thereby allowing some security concerns for the possibility of increased die longevity?

This wasn’t just any process. The entire field of chromium plating was in its infancy in 1927. This was pretty cutting edge stuff for its time. 

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On 5/15/2022 at 2:30 PM, FlyingAl said:

The reason the dies were sent unhardened was to alleviate fears of the dies being stolen in transport, correct? 

Not entirely. The primary reason was because SF had different presses and needed dies cut to different lengths than Philadelphia. Some of this involved Carson until they acquired a new Ajax press which was identical to one at Philadelphia. New Orleans also wanted dies cut to a different length, but Philadelphia told them to cut hardened dies. (NO was not fully trusted when it cam back on-line after 1877. A reason commonly given to Congress was security -- hardening and tempering coinage dies was very exacting work and not undertaken by just anyone. Thus, stolen soft dies were less of a threat to the coinage.

Barber pushed for having all dies the same length in the 1890s and this was eventually followed in about 1897 (don't have an exact date, but by the only SF was left hardening their own.)

By policy and practice all coinage experiments were made at Philadelphia until Denver got permission to open their own die shop.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/15/2022 at 11:36 AM, RWB said:

RE: "Does the apparent destruction of records in the 1979-80 range make the coins “cease to exist”, as “Burdettian” thought processes require? Or do the coins truly “stand on their own” or “speak for themselves” as 1964 special coins are not allowed to? Sorry, but I just have to tweak noses over the fixation on documents."

Numismatics without documentary research is like practicing law without written laws. Of course that fits the ignorance of an alleged lawyer some vigilante, seat-of-the-pants justice place.

The coins are as they appear, but they cannot "stand on their own" because what we "think we see" is only part of the story, and easily subject to honest (or biased) misinterpretation. Research is investigation - as necessary in numismatics as in any other field of interest - it is part of the search for truth and reality.

Personally, I have hope that more information about the 1927 experiments remains in Mint archives. There are more than 100 volumes of correspondence covering the period of interest that have never been opened. There might also be an internal report on the subject, tucked away in an as-yet unexamined file box. We don't know, but we have the means to find out, rather than brush the subject off as, "Well, they speak for themselves," bologna. (Coins do not "speak for themselves." They speak for our biases and presumptions built on individual and collective  ignorance. Here's an example from an active thread: "This one then edge looks like a die bleed or something on the edge amd the 4 looks double the word TRUST looks like flat smooshed letters." To the writer of that sentence, the coin is "speaking for itself." Add a bit more numismatic terminology and you have "1964 SMS coins." )

It’s not the same thing, Roger, and worse, I believe you KNOW it’s not. For the record, I tend to believe your take on the 1964 whatever-they-are coins. That said, you say they don’t exist, based on what? A lack of documentation? But there’s a problem. Just about everyone who has seen them in their hands says they are different - a thing apart. It’s a conundrum. We have a LENGTHY history of Mint insiders making “unauthorized stuff” that miraculously appears in their estates when they die. I don’t find it at all implausible that Eva Adams had fundamentally special coins made for her own private stash. And I don’t believe she would EVER have such a thing documented. ANYWHERE. So then why do I believe YOUR take on them? Two reasons. 1) The descriptions of what makes them “instantly obvious” as has been stated on this board, as something apart lacks the specificity I’d want to see. And 2) it’s the kind of thing I’d need to see in my hand in order to fully buy in. The lack of documentation about whatever those 1964 coins are bothers me not a whit. I’d be amazed if it DID exist, frankly. 
 

And no, I refuse to take a definitive stand based solely on photographs. My reasons for that have consumed much lineage. One does not spend as much time around photography as I have without building a healthy mistrust of its capacity for misleading. And the transition to digital has done nothing to ameliorate that problem. 

Edited by VKurtB
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I’m late to the game, but back to the buffs. Where were these 5 found in the 80s? Who had them?

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On 5/16/2022 at 1:13 PM, Woods020 said:

I’m late to the game, but back to the buffs. Where were these 5 found in the 80s? Who had them?

Don't hold me to it, but I think that they appeared in an auction without fanfare. And that more than one dealer quickly recognized them as something out of the ordinary. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/16/2022 at 2:31 PM, MarkFeld said:

Don't hold me to it, but I think that they appeared in an auction without fanfare. And that more than one dealer quickly recognized them as something out of the ordinary. 

That always adds to the mystery when they are found dispersed in the wild versus held by one estate. So this wasn’t a mint employee’s personal stash. 
 

it is also odd to me that they were found in various places but they all graded a 65. That seems really odd. 

Edited by Woods020
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On 5/16/2022 at 2:30 PM, Woods020 said:

That always adds to the mystery when they are found dispersed in the wild versus held by one estate. So this wasn’t a mint employee’s personal stash. 
 

it is also odd to me that they were found in various places but they all graded a 65. That seems really odd. 

I think they all surfaced in the same place/auction, not in various places.

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On 5/16/2022 at 3:35 PM, MarkFeld said:

I think they all surfaced in the same place/auction, not in various places.

Oh gotcha. They appeared at one auction where more than one dealer saw them as unique. 

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On 5/16/2022 at 2:39 PM, Woods020 said:

Oh gotcha. They appeared at one auction where more than one dealer saw them as unique. 

That's my recollection. I saw one or more at NGC, while grading there. It was likely in the early 90's.

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