US large cent - overstrike? fake?

Started by FosseWay, April 06, 2023, 01:35:24 PM

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FosseWay

What is going on with this cent? I can't make out the date for sure, but think I see a 3 at the end, which would make it 1823 or 1833. The latter is more likely on the balance of probabilities, given the prices quoted on Numista.

It appears to be more or less the right size and weight (28.4 mm, 10.16 g). It's not significantly underweight, as you might expect for a contemporary forgery.

But on the obverse, there is evidence of something else under the strike. Look especially at the lower left extremity of the bust, next to the first star. Less obvious are (a) a possible faint line running upwards from the first star that could be the neck of an underlying portrait; (b) some mess around the date area; and (c) some irregularity above the top of the head.

Could this be overstruck on an earlier (1808-1814) cent, or on something completely different? Or am I just seeing things?

krishna

If not a key date, there is some solution going by the name of "Knick a date", which enhances the date of the coin, when applied
You may try if avaliable

brandm24

In the 1860s someone made "unofficial" restrikes of both the 1823 and 1804 Large cents. Both are quite rare and there was demand for them among collectors.

The 1823s were struck from a discarded 1823 obverse die and an 1813 reverse die. In the early years of the mint old dies weren't routinely destroyed but often just thrown away. These particular dies were rusted so produced bumpy surfaces when coins were struck. Yours, if it's a restrike, exhibits extreme corrosion that may account for the shadow details and distortions. Also the 1813 reverse die was broken and shows raised areas in the strike especially near the rim just after the word UNITED.

The 1804 restrikes were produced from an altered 1803 obverse die and an 1820 reverse die. The 1804s were poorly struck and are quite obviously counterfeits.

I have to look into your coin a little more and get back to you. Hopefully I can find some good images.

Bruce

The 1804 "restrikes"
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FosseWay

Very interesting - thank you, Bruce. I look forward to any more information you can dig up!

The possibility of corroded dies hadn't occurred to me. Previously I had attributed the poor condition of especially the obverse to normal wear, but looking at the scan you can actually see that where it's struck properly the detail is actually not bad. All of the word LIBERTY is visible, for example. A bad die perhaps explains its condition better than heavy circulation. That also ties with the fact that the reverse isn't especially worn.

On the reverse, I don't see anything odd around UNITED, but the die corrosion seems much worse on the right side (AMERICA) than the left.

One thing that may militate against your theory of an 1823 restrike is that presumably for a collector interested in such a restrike, a clearly legible date is something of a prerequisite! The date on this is far from clear, especially considering the coin's general legibility otherwise. Perhaps it is one of these restrikes, but one that went wrong and was just (feloniously) put into circulation by its maker.

brandm24

I came across more information on the 1823 restrike. The coins were actually produced by a man named Joseph Mickley who bought them as iron scrap in the 1830s. He struck a variety of different coins c1860s / 1870s with his collection of scrap dies. They're collectively known as Mickley Restrikes and some are more valuable today than the originals.

I honestly can't tell what date yours is but I've attached images of both regular and restrike examples. The image of the restrike clearly shows prominent die cracks on both sides of the coin. Yours doesn't seem to show any hint of them.

Bruce1823 normal strike 2.jpg1823 Restrike 3.jpg 
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FosseWay

Do all of Mickley's restrikes show the die cracks? As you say, I can see no evidence of them on my coin, especially the reverse after UNITED, where you'd surely see it if it was there.

But you've convinced me that whatever other stuff I'm seeing on the obverse is the result of corrosion (of the die or of the coin) and not the remains of something else over which the coin was struck.

As to the date, I'm pretty certain that it's 18x3, but whether x is 2 or 3 I can't tell.

Thanks for the research!

brandm24

All the 1823 restrikes that I've seen show die cracks of varying degrees but some are very obscure. Of course if the dies were damaged when Mickley acquired them the cracking would only progress further after each strike. Eventually it would fail completely. The image of the restrike also shows a prominent cud above stars 4 to 7 which indicates that the edge of the die is crumbling and near failure.

I'm going to try to determine if the reverse of your coin is a normal 1823 or an 1813 die. There must be small differences that aren't apparent to me.

Bruce
 
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brandm24

I tried to determine what style reverse your coin had. Apparently, there's differences between the 1813 reverse design used on the restrikes and the regular 1823 issue.

With the possible exception of the number of berries in the wreath, nine opposed to eight (?), they appear to be the same to me. Often when changes were made by the mint they were very small and hard to distinguish. With the exception of major design changes, die were usually adjusted for the purpose of better strike quality or something else just as subtle.

Sorry I couldn't help you more.

Bruce
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FosseWay

Thanks for trying! Anyway, this thread has gotten me further than I was before. I've learnt about these restrikes, which I'd never heard of, and I think we can discount the possibility that the whole coin is an overstrike on something else 8)

brandm24

Quote from: FosseWay on April 09, 2023, 11:00:10 AMThanks for trying! Anyway, this thread has gotten me further than I was before. I've learnt about these restrikes, which I'd never heard of, and I think we can discount the possibility that the whole coin is an overstrike on something else 8)
Yes, overstrikes on large cents are rare. You're more likely to find recut dates. An old serviceable die from a previous year would have the date modified to reflect the new date. Die steel being expensive as it was in the day lead the mint to reuse whatever they could. Too bad they're not so frugal today. :)

Bruce
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brandm24

Unfortunately, I found no likely attributions for the Jebson coin. If part of the name is missing from the right side then it becomes impossible to identify. Whether that's the case with this coin or not we can't know.

It is surprising though how made issuers stamped coins that were too small to accommodate their punch. I've even come across examples where the missing parts were stamped on the opposite side of the host. A wraparound counterstamp you could say. ;D

I also enhanced the images you provided and found no "shadow" letters or other  things that might help us attribute the piece.

Bruce
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Globetrotter

Maybe a bit late, anyway take a look.

Please also check in numista https://en.numista.com/catalogue/pieces14203.html

We (Rsirian and I) have tried to document all the variants of the US from 1793 up to now, so plenty of things to look at.....

Have fun