Help: Is this die retouching?

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These are two 1992 Canadian Nickels where I am suspecting that the die used to mint the coin on the left was retouched.

Coin specialists are telling me that the mint has not retouched/re-engraved dies since the 60's and it is impossible that the parallel lines (you see on the left picture) are engraving marks. The experts are classifying them as die scrapes caused by the finger feeder.

The montage illustrates my argument that an engraver repaired a die defect by extending the fur lines towards the log (shown using cyan lines). The parallel lines are on average approximately 4mils in width. For me, it is impossible for the finger feeder to cleanly scrape the back/tail/log junction at the depth of the last cyan line, without scratching the field of the die.

So, please help. I am asking for your expertise to either confirm or reject my hypothesis and provide your reasoning. Thank you.

1992_montage.jpg
 

Goldjockey

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#2
Why do you think the die was created by engraving? Looks more like a die made from a lost wax cast to me. Have you done a transparency overlay in photoshop to compare? Could simply be a different die?
 
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Why do you think the die was created by engraving?
At first I though that the modification was done by CNC machine and asked machinist expert the same question. They indicated that such a modification was usually done by a master engraver.

Looks more like a die made from a lost wax cast to me. Have you done a transparency overlay in photoshop to compare? Could simply be a different die?
I know it was the same punch that hubbed the dies. The punch used had a small defect at the bottom right corner of the log which is present on all 1992 nickels studied. So the middle and right images are what a normal nickel should look like.

So, these coins were produced from different dies produced using the same punch, but the nickel on the left was produced with a die that I suspect was modified.

The red and blue lines you see on the right image represents different edges of the parallel lines drawn using the overlay of the first two images.
 

dcurrie911

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My question would be - why would the die be reworked in such a way as you are suggesting? It doesn’t correct anything and does not improve the final image, right? An attempt to deface the die to mint collectors items?
 
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My question would be - why would the die be reworked in such a way as you are suggesting? It doesn’t correct anything and does not improve the final image, right?
The die could have been repaired to fulfill a production quota due to a shortage of working dies. Maybe a mint worker acting on some creative impulses. I do not know.

If I can solve this mystery, is it man made or just scratches/scrapes?
With proper arguments, next step would be to ask the mint.
 

Chujybear

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My question would be - why would the die be reworked in such a way as you are suggesting? It doesn’t correct anything and does not improve the final image, right? An attempt to deface the die to mint collectors items?
hypothetically:
the die may have been damaged, so the blemish was feathered in, rather than make a new die?
 

dcurrie911

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I don’t have a nickel I can take a photo of but if you google the Canadian nickel you will see this is a close up of the back side of a beaver. The modifications to the coin on the left changed the profile of the beavers butt not in a good or natural way. So why would the die be re-touched to make the image worse?

Dan
 

mitch

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#8
my [barely] educated guess is they were struck by different dies and the one with the extended lines had a flaw that needed hidden/disguised. Or maybe that beaver is shedding his winter coat? Otherwise, it just looks like another fat rodent's fanny to me... ;-)
 

allan621

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Usually there is one master die from which all the working dies are made. If there is a defective die made from the master it probably won't be used. This is for a couple of reasons.

First, all coins must be identical, if not then people will lose confidence in the currency. It doesn't make sense to use a defective die if it will turn out a hundred thousand distinctively different looking coins. Collectors hate that because it makes a true mis-stampings less valuable. And any engraver who rises to the level of level of working at the bureau of engraving at the mint ( in the US its a seven year apprenticeship ) and tries to make a correction to a die with straight lines instead of following the established pattern should turn in his optivisor.

And lastly, coining dies are made from sculpted clay in a large format. Then they are sent to a reduction machine that transfers the image into metal at the proper size. This is sent to a hobbing press to turn out master dies from which working dies are made. The chance of this correction made by human hands is incredibly small. Probably even smaller than that.

Allan
 

gtsport

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#10
My semi educated guess would be the die had minor damage creating these lines and in the process of polishing out the damage the deeper ones were left behind. Since the out most parallel line is completely off of the Beaver, I don't think they were added to correct a problem with the fur. also, the base of the tail looks thinner on the damaged coin, leading me to believe this die was polished. Feeder fingers? Nah, I don't know what alignment the RCM uses for the dies in their presses, but I doubt it is the angle we see on your coin.
 
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leading me to believe this die was polished.
It is a possibility but all coins I saw with lines left behind on the die due to excessive polishing have a rounded surface as shown below. In this case they are perfectly square :confused:

(Ex: 1990 nickel showing the end result of excessive polishing within red circle.)
Image110921.jpg

From what I am reading, it is not possible for someone to produce these fine lines and it just happened to line up perfectly with the fur. :(

Hope you were all okay with me asking this type of question. Your expertise is much appreciated!
 
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dcurrie911

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Hi Numidian. Based on your last post you seem to be frustrated that we are not confirming your hypothesis. No one replied that it could not be done with a graver but everyone seems to be in agreement that the chances are very close to zero if not zero that is was done by a graver.

In your last post you said - “just happened to line up perfectly with the fur”. I’m sorry but I disagree with the statement. Yes, One or two of your red/blue lines extend fairly straight from the fur lines. But there is one red line on the top that extends over the beavers back and the other two red/blue lines above that red line don’t align to anything. And worse yet the bottom two red lines indicate that multiple fur lines were combined into a single trapezoidal shape ending in a point.

while I cannot prove it either way in my opinion there is no way that anyone used a graver on a minting die to create such a unrealistic and poorly executed image. Sorry. On the positive side if you can prove your theory you probably have a valuable coin.

Dan
 

gtsport

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#14
Have you contacted Fred Weinberg, James Wiles, or Ken Potter? Fred is a member of Coin Community forum and Ken has an error group on facebook. Also, if you can find Tom Rogers out there, he worked at the U.S. mint as an engraver and in a conversation with him a few year back, he mentioned touching up dies by hand.
 
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Hi Numidian. Based on your last post you seem to be frustrated that we are not confirming your hypothesis.
The most frustrating part is not being able to properly describe or show what I am seeing ! Here is a mystery with mixed opinions and I am sorry if my passion is coming on too strong, it is not my intention.

So here is a different angle...I will used “mystery lines” for the rest of the reply.

Characteristics of mystery lines. Note that all measurements were obtained from images using a computer software and therefore considered approximate measurements. There are 9 discernible mystery lines ranging from 50um (2mils) to 250um (10mils) in width for a total width of 1.15mm (45mils). Each step height is 76um (3mils) where the last step is 460um (18mils) above the field of the coin. The mystery lines have a slight downward slope from the beaver’s back extending towards the beaver’s tail and/or log. The beginning of each mystery line seems to align with individual beaver’s fur hairs.

Could it be a separate punch? A punch is scrutinized to detect such defects before being used to hub several working dies, so the possibility is very slim.

How many working dies is suspected to exist having the mystery lines? Due to the rarity of finding a coin with the mystery lines, it is suspected that only one working die was modified or damaged.

Could finger feeder have damaged the surface of the die? (See pictures at this web site: https://mikebyers.com/us-25c-feeder-finger-denver-mint.html) Due to the overall size and shape of the finger feeder, the mystery lines were not produces by the finger feeder. From numerous observations, the finger feeder will scratch the surface of the die producing die gouges visible on the flattest and deepest part of the coin, the field.

Is this an example of damage caused by extreme polishing done during maintenance of the working die? Some have argued that the thinning of the beaver’s tail is a clear indication that the damage was caused by extreme polishing. It is true that extreme polishing will thin the elements and at times polishing lines are visible as shown on the 1990 bare belly. From numerous observations, the characteristic of polished lines have a rounded surface and do not have square edges as found on the mystery lines.

Could it be a die chip/break? If the die was a crystal, I imagine it could have broken this way. To my knowledge, it is made from harden steel and when it breaks or chips, it is never as clean and straight as the mystery lines.

The only questions I do not have an answer for is; How was it done?

and Why was it done?( this question I doubt I will find an answer for!)

Have you contacted Fred Weinberg, James Wiles, or Ken Potter? Fred is a member of Coin Community forum and Ken has an error group on facebook. Also, if you can find Tom Rogers out there, he worked at the U.S. mint as an engraver and in a conversation with him a few year back, he mentioned touching up dies by hand.
I have contacted other coin experts and was told that the onus was on me to convince them. So I am posting on different forums to gather as much information to build a case, a good exercise to test what I know, what I need to learn, and the correct way to present the information. Thank you for the information, I will try to find Tom Rogers.

I have taken overlays each having different alpha values.
0.jpg 1.JPG 2.jpg 3.jpg
5.jpg
4.jpg
 
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mitch

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#17
Would you mind posting pics of the entire coin, with a 'normal' one, too, with the curious areas progressively zoomed? I can't even tell what/where we're looking at in the second shot you posted. It might help us visualize what's happening...
 
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Would you mind posting pics of the entire coin, with a 'normal' one, too, with the curious areas progressively zoomed? I can't even tell what/where we're looking at in the second shot you posted. It might help us visualize what's happening...
Hi mitch,
Although I would have liked to take other pictures, I had to return the coin with mystery lines. So, here is a link of someone else who has found a coin with the mystery lines and provided pictures of the entire coin. Hope this will help.
https://www.cointalk.com/threads/1992-canadian-nickel-type-2-re-engraved-beaver.350054/

P.S. If it helps, you have my permission to copy any pictures I have provided in this post to view them on your computer.
 
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Goldjockey

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#19
Looking at the overlays It occurs to me that since the entire area is raised above the background, it's more likely that these stampings are from different dies made from the same master. The lined area likely occurred first, and the master for the otherwise identical die was later modified to remove, and recontour this area. I'm a metalsmith, not a coin die maker, but this makes a lot more sense than backfilling material over the background area to add the lines.
 
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