Late arrival of new year's dies and mintage figures

RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,995 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited November 9, 2018 5:56PM in U.S. Coin Forum

Most U.S. Mint production figures represent the number of pieces struck and delivered during a specific calendar year. But that was not always the case. In some instances serviceable dies from the previous years were used when new-dated dies did not arrive promptly. This little letter from 1840 helps highlight that problem.

Can members identify years and mints that might have used prior-year dies?

Comments

  • HemisphericalHemispherical Posts: 276 ✭✭✭

    Supply problems in 1840 as it is today, but still the improvising.

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 25,551 ✭✭✭✭✭

    What dies is the letter referring to?

    Thank you all for voting!
  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 15,341 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:
    What dies is the letter referring to?

    We can observe that 1840 half dollar reverse dies may not have shown up in New Orleans before the obverses.

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 25,551 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Or the Robert Ball Hughes revisions to the silver?

    Thank you all for voting!
  • RonyahskiRonyahski Posts: 2,704 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 9, 2018 9:55PM

    @CaptHenway said:
    What dies is the letter referring to?

    1 pair of dies for each of dimes, half-dimes, and quarter eagles for the New Orleans Branch Mint.

    Patterson's response to this letter is most interesting. (I can't figure out how to post documents here, else I would provide.) Prior to this letter, it was standard procedure for the mint to use antedated dies. In response to Woodbury, Patterson said that "it won't happen again", and the Mint changed its policy.

    The 1840-O quarter eagle dies referred to in this letter arrived in New Orleans on April 1, 1840. The Branch Mint had already struck 14,000 quarter eagles in March. Thus quarter eagles dated 1839-O are included in the mintage figures for 1840-O quarter eagles.

    R.W. Julian wrote about the dimes and half-dimes in the Numismatic Scrapbook, September 1968.

    Some refer to overgraded slabs as Coffins. I like to think of them as Happy Coins.
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 25,551 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you. Now was there some plausible excuse for this outrageous delay? New Orleans could not have been more than ten days by sea from Philadelphia, if that much.

    Thank you all for voting!
  • RonyahskiRonyahski Posts: 2,704 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 10, 2018 9:04AM

    @CaptHenway said:
    Thank you. Now was there some plausible excuse for this outrageous delay? New Orleans could not have been more than ten days by sea from Philadelphia, if that much.

    These dies were sent out from Philadelphia on March 17, 1840 to Washington D.C. to be forwarded under the frank of the Secy of Treasury. The dies were forwarded on March 19, 1840 and arrived 12 days later in New Orleans. Regular mail took about 10 to11 days, so a heavy box containing 6 dies arriving in 12 days wasn't so bad.

    A pair of dies for the 1840 dimes and half-dimes were already sent to New Orleans in early January 1840, so it was not an issue that a second pair was not being sent until late in the year. The quarter eagle dies were the first pair sent to New Orleans, which obviously was very late.

    In early 1840 the Mint in Philadelphia planned to introduce the new quarter eagle design, as it had done for the eagle and half eagle. It delayed shipment of quarter eagle dies of the old design for as long as it could, and did not get around to a design change for the quarter eagle until the following month.

    Some refer to overgraded slabs as Coffins. I like to think of them as Happy Coins.
  • rickoricko Posts: 61,687 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The trials and tribulations of the inner workings of the Mint...Thanks for the history... Cheers, RickO

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,995 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Excellent information, Ronyahski !

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 25,551 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Ronyahski said:

    @CaptHenway said:
    Thank you. Now was there some plausible excuse for this outrageous delay? New Orleans could not have been more than ten days by sea from Philadelphia, if that much.

    These dies were sent out from Philadelphia on March 17, 1840 to Washington D.C. to be forwarded under the frank of the Secy of Treasury. The dies were forwarded on March 19, 1840 and arrived 12 days later in New Orleans. Regular mail took about 10 to11 days, so a heavy box containing 6 dies arriving in 12 days wasn't so bad.

    A pair of dies for the 1840 dimes and half-dimes were already sent to New Orleans in early January 1840, so it was not an issue that a second pair was not being sent until late in the year. The quarter eagle dies were the first pair sent to New Orleans, which obviously was very late.

    In early 1840 the Mint in Philadelphia planned to introduce the new quarter eagle design, as it had done for the eagle and half eagle. It delayed shipment of quarter eagle dies of the old design for as long as it could, and did not get around to a design change for the quarter eagle until the following year.

    Thank you for the explanation on the shipment. I was wondering why dies were being sent from Philadelphia to Washington. Was this normal practice for shipping dies to branch mints?

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by your last paragraph, as the design change was made in 1840 and not the following year.

    TD

    Thank you all for voting!
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,995 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here is a transcript of the letter referred to by Ronyahski.

    "March 21, 1840
    Levi Woodbury,
    Secretary of the Treasury
    Sir:
    I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th,
    on the subject of the dies for the New Orleans Mint. I beg to state that
    the first dies for 1840 were sent to that Mint in January, and received
    there in that month, and that it has been a custom, from the origin of
    the Mint, to use the dies of the preceding year, until the new ones are
    prepared. There is, however, no difficulty in sending on the supply in
    time to prevent this necessity, and I will have it attended to in future.
    Very respectfully,
    R.M. Patterson,
    Director"

    RG104 entry 216 vol 05

    RE: "I was wondering why dies were being sent from Philadelphia to Washington. Was this normal practice for shipping dies to branch mints?"

    As noted on a previous post, the Post Office did not like handling boxes of heavy dies and insisted on charging the mints at First Class mail rates instead of Parcel Post. To avoid this expense, the Director in Philadelphia would send dies via someone already traveling to Washington to the Secretary of Treasury. The Secretary would then mail the dies using his free franking privilege

    Eventually, the Post Office relented and accepted dies for shipment by Parcel Post.

  • AUandAGAUandAG Posts: 20,005 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm sure that the mint directors would be fuming over all the changes to the designs that caused these types of problems. When changes are not made in advance but ordered to take place immediately then things like this happen. Wasn't this the year that there were drapery changes on the coinage?
    bob :)

    BST deals: Dozens of buys/sells. Will provide a list upon request.
    Registry: CC lowballs (boblindstrom), [email protected]
  • RonyahskiRonyahski Posts: 2,704 ✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway said:

    @Ronyahski said:

    @CaptHenway said:
    Thank you. Now was there some plausible excuse for this outrageous delay? New Orleans could not have been more than ten days by sea from Philadelphia, if that much.

    These dies were sent out from Philadelphia on March 17, 1840 to Washington D.C. to be forwarded under the frank of the Secy of Treasury. The dies were forwarded on March 19, 1840 and arrived 12 days later in New Orleans. Regular mail took about 10 to11 days, so a heavy box containing 6 dies arriving in 12 days wasn't so bad.

    A pair of dies for the 1840 dimes and half-dimes were already sent to New Orleans in early January 1840, so it was not an issue that a second pair was not being sent until late in the year. The quarter eagle dies were the first pair sent to New Orleans, which obviously was very late.

    In early 1840 the Mint in Philadelphia planned to introduce the new quarter eagle design, as it had done for the eagle and half eagle. It delayed shipment of quarter eagle dies of the old design for as long as it could, and did not get around to a design change for the quarter eagle until the following year.

    Thank you for the explanation on the shipment. I was wondering why dies were being sent from Philadelphia to Washington. Was this normal practice for shipping dies to branch mints?

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by your last paragraph, as the design change was made in 1840 and not the following year.

    TD

    Good catch. I meant the following month, not year. Original post edited.

    Some refer to overgraded slabs as Coffins. I like to think of them as Happy Coins.
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,995 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @AUandAG said:
    I'm sure that the mint directors would be fuming over all the changes to the designs that caused these types of problems. When changes are not made in advance but ordered to take place immediately then things like this happen. Wasn't this the year that there were drapery changes on the coinage?
    bob :)

    It was commonly the Mint Director who requested and approved such changes. In the 1860s and early 70s, Directors were often pushing for design changes.

  • AUandAGAUandAG Posts: 20,005 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @RogerB said:

    @AUandAG said:
    I'm sure that the mint directors would be fuming over all the changes to the designs that caused these types of problems. When changes are not made in advance but ordered to take place immediately then things like this happen. Wasn't this the year that there were drapery changes on the coinage?
    bob :)

    It was commonly the Mint Director who requested and approved such changes. In the 1860s and early 70s, Directors were often pushing for design changes.

    Did not know this. Thanks RB. I figured they would want changes if the designs caused problems with minting, like was done with the Standing Liberty quarter in 16/17. I would think that doing so would have just made their job much harder. But, it was a different era and those of us alive today do not comprehend such work traits.

    bob :)

    BST deals: Dozens of buys/sells. Will provide a list upon request.
    Registry: CC lowballs (boblindstrom), [email protected]
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 5,995 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Design changes to improve production were usually made after discussions between the Coiner and Director or Superintendent. Only a few, such as removing rays on the 5-cent or the 1860 cent reverse were set to the Secretary of Treasury for review.

    In many situations, executive officers had a great deal of discretionary authority; but in others they couldn't do simple, common sense things.

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