Adjustment marks on Capped Bust halves?

ElmerFusterpuckElmerFusterpuck Posts: 2,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

I know this coin may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I did recently add this 1807 Large Stars half graded VF-35. I was wondering how common adjustment marks were in this series? I'm using to seeing them on US coins from the 1700's, but far less in the early 1800's.


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  • ElmerFusterpuckElmerFusterpuck Posts: 2,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'll do a one-time bump here, was just curious if any one had later date coins with adjustment marks.

  • Excuse my ignorance, but how can you tell an adjustment mark from a post-minting scratch?

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would say adjustment marks on Bust halves are uncommon. IMO, ones with the "crisscross pattern" (more common on dollars) are very scarce.

    @KensCoins2287 said: "Excuse my ignorance, but how can you tell an adjustment mark from a post-minting scratch?"

    You examine the interior of the mark under high magnification. Adjustment marks look completely different from a scratch.

  • gripgrip Posts: 9,709 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I thought adjustment marks went in one direction.

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 4, 2019 4:24PM

    @grip said:
    I thought adjustment marks went in one direction.

    Much of the time they do; however, crisscross patterns are easily found on both US and foreign coins during the period adjustments were done to the face of the planchets. The OP's coin is a great example. This is uncommon.

    If you look at enough reeded edge gold, you will see that they started to make the adjustments to the rims so the coins would not be unsightly when the marks were not struck out.

  • RegulatedRegulated Posts: 2,982 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My experience has been that it's unusual to see adjustment marks post-1798. That's a very interesting coin.

    David McCarthy - Kagin's - IG: X_COINNERD_X

    What is now proved was once only imagined. - William Blake
  • amwldcoinamwldcoin Posts: 5,392 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Can't say I've seen a US coin that late with adjustment marks either. World coins...well into the mid 1800's.

  • RealoneRealone Posts: 17,670 ✭✭✭✭

    How about adjustment marks on 1800 dollars? Common or rare?

    'Never give in, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy'.
    FYI: I only collect naturally toned coins with original surfaces and nothing else, trust me nothing else!
    OK with one exception!
  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭

    Adjustment marks are most common on Flowing Hair dollars and half dollars, less common on early Draped Bust, and they are scarce on 1801-1806 half dollars - the marks are not as deep indicating finer files. Adjustment marks are very rare on Capped Bust half dollars, but they are relatively common on the outer periphery of Capped Bust half eagles 1807-1812, especially where they are weakly struck. After that period, the adjusters filed the edges.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • BroadstruckBroadstruck Posts: 28,493 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thankfully today there's Weight Watchers ;)

    To Err Is Human.... To Collect Err's Is Just Too Much Darn Tootin Fun!
  • scubafuelscubafuel Posts: 715 ✭✭✭✭

    Any weight difference between draped bust and capped bust half planchets? Perhaps this was struck on an old planchet.

    Also, did they change the edge lettering when switching to the capped bust series?

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  • ElmerFusterpuckElmerFusterpuck Posts: 2,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for the thoughts and input. These marks appear to be from a finer file like mentioned above. I'm normally not a fan of these on the earlier coins, but something drew me to get this one, mostly because I didn't think this series had these marks.

  • GoBustGoBust Posts: 219 ✭✭✭✭

    I'm a bit skeptical about these marks on circulated capped halves. I've never seen them on a high grade carried half dollar trust I recall. Could these be post mint alterations? They look pretty genuine in the plates you posted, but would higher magnification be needed? Especially in the setting of cross hatching on a coin of this late date, seems very unusual.

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭

    @scubafuel:

    Any weight difference between draped bust and capped bust half planchets? Perhaps this was struck on an old planchet.Also, did they change the edge lettering when switching to the capped bust series?

    The first style of edge lettering was used on half dollars 1794 to mid-1795, the next from mid-1795 through 1806. The edge style changed in 1807, for both draped and capped halves, without any star ornamentation. So there is little chance this coin is from an 1806 or earlier planchet. The OP coin should have no stars on the edge. Also, silver deposits and coin deliveries were tightly controlled.

    I have weighed many early halves a have not observed an average weight difference between draped and capped. There is a surprising variance in weight on individual coins with the same degree of wear. Also, the weight standard by law did not change at this time. The Mint rolling equipment was changed by 1796, and probably improved after which gave more consistent thickness. There is even some variation today on industrial rolling machinery - this is difficult to control.

    One item I have not seen in publications is that Flowing Hair and Draped Bust halves are slightly larger in diameter than capped halves, except for the changeover year of 1807. Also, there are three oversized 1807 half dollar die marriages, two draped and one capped, I believe this was experimental for many reasons - might write an article at some future date on this. The draped halves are slightly egg shaped, 6:00 to 12:00 is slightly larger diameter than 3:00 to 9:00 because the draped obverse design drives the eccentric shape during striking.

    I stated in my earlier post that adjustment marks are scarce on 1801-1806 half dollars. It took years before I saw adjustment marks on an 1807 draped bust half. The OP coin is a rare CBH with adjustment marks.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @GoBust said:
    I'm a bit skeptical about these marks on circulated capped halves. I've never seen them on a high grade carried half dollar trust I recall. Could these be post mint alterations? They look pretty genuine in the plates you posted, but would higher magnification be needed? Especially in the setting of cross hatching on a coin of this late date, seems very unusual.

    IMO, NO! However, there ARE three obvious PM scratches in that orientation to the light.

  • BaleyBaley Posts: 20,880 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Sometimes cigar smokers will use a coin and knife they carry to cut the tip of the cigar off, so they don't mar the tabletop.

    Liberty: Parent of Science & Industry

  • gripgrip Posts: 9,709 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Im on the fence. Could be a combination of adj marks and pmd.

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Members here have taught us a lot about when adjustment marks were common and on the types of coins they mostly occur on. The OP has a wonderful example.

    Can anyone think of several characteristics that are common to adjustment marks and help differentiate them from scratches?

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 27,388 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 10, 2019 1:30PM

    Most of the adjustment marks that I have seen on gold and silver went in one direction. The fact that these marks go in at least three directions looks like post mint damage to me.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible.
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Agree. Adjustment marks DO GO in one direction. They are also straight. When the blank is turned in any way as it is being filed, the marks become diagonal. If you wish to make a pretty coin - one where the marks are obliterated during striking, you would lighten-up the pressure on the file. Unfortunately, the evidence shows the adjusters were not concerned with pretty coins. Crossed adjustment marks are uncommon but they are not rare. I'm very surprised that a dealer/collector of your stature has not seen quite a few.

    I wish I knew how to draw red circles to show the actual PMD (scratches).

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Bill, you just made me think of something I don't recall ever seeing. Adjustment marks on both the obverse and reverse of a coin!!!

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 10, 2019 1:41PM

    @Aspie_Rocco said:
    Can anyone post photos of adjustment marks?
    Great thread!

    I agree.

    See the OP!

    PS Are you a PCGS Grader? I think I saw you in a PCGS shirt in Charmy's L.B. Report.

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭

    Search Heritage archives 1794-95 on .50 and $1 for adjustment marks crisscrossing, less common but easy to find. They are straight though. For some reason, I have seen quite a few coins with adjustment marks that also have pin scratches.

    Adjustment marks on both sides are rare even in 1794-95, but they exist as I have found a few while searching specifically for them. The 1794 SP $1 has adjustment marks on both sides, in different directions.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • Aspie_RoccoAspie_Rocco Posts: 2,098 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Insider2 said:

    @Aspie_Rocco said:
    Can anyone post photos of adjustment marks?
    Great thread!

    I agree.

    See the OP!

    PS Are you a PCGS Grader? I think I saw you in a PCGS shirt in Charmy's L.B. Report.

    Lol no, that is the shirt that comes with platinum membership. I had a few people ask me that.
    I do not work for PCGS, yet...

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭


    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • Aspie_RoccoAspie_Rocco Posts: 2,098 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am very curious on this subject! It is very fascinating. I cannot come to logical terms with their reasoning for causing such damage to final product. That said I now feel compelled to own one. Adding it to the coin bucket list.

    Why would they be so concerned with a slightly overweight coin, as to deface the planchet like this, resulting in a “defaced” looking coin?

    Did they save and melt the filings?

    How much weight really comes off with a few file passes?

    Why, in the name of craftsmanship, why? :s :|

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 27,388 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 10, 2019 3:26PM
    • The mint was concerned that the consignors got back coins with the proper weight. Overweight coins could leave the consignors getting back less money that they had deposited. This was big deal in those days.

    • The women who did the adjusting wore leather aprons to catch the filings. After a period of time the aprons when cut apart and the filings were recovered. The filings were thrown back in the pot and re-melted.

    • Hard to say how much was saved. It varied depending upon how much the weight of the planchet was off.

    • Why? To get the weight of the coin down to the legal standard. Planchets that were too light were melted or in the case of some silver dollars, had a silver plug driven into them to make up the difference.

    ** The coinage act of 1792 called for the coins to be .8925 fine (I could off a little on that because I am taking it from memory.) In a unilateral order, David Rittenhouse allowed the mint to use the easier to achieve .900 fineness. When that change was discovered, there was a big scandal because the consignors had been shortchanged. The weight of the coins DID MATTER a lot.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible.
  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 10, 2019 2:54PM

    They would definitely save the filings. The Mint had non-precision rolling machinery, and a drawing machine. They could cut consistent diameter blanks with the blanking die, but the thickness was not consistent which required adjusting, or a silver plug in 1794-95 to obtain the spec weight - the plugs were gone after 1795. The Mint had five adjusters in 1795 including Sarah Waldrake and Rachel Summers at .50 per day (the men made $1.20 per day as adjusters). This was over 10% of the workforce, so a lot of effort went into adjusting coins to their legal weight.

    The adjustment marks were not as deep after 1795 with a few exceptions like the 1803 $10 that I posted. The Mint probably had some complaints, but none is recorded in Mint archives.

    There was one 1795 half dollar that was the subject of a few threads, the obverse was almost defaced with huge adjustment marks, it was graded AU55? but went for a low price, not surprisingly. I would have liked to bought at that price.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • crazyhounddogcrazyhounddog Posts: 10,192 ✭✭✭✭✭

    What a VERY cool piece my friend!
    Thanks for sharing 👍🏻

    The bitterness of "poor quality" is remembered long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 7,573 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Most of the early adjusting was done by men. Women took over the work in the early 1850s. Franklin Peale determined that women were more accurate and faster at the work than men -- they could also be paid less.

    Accurate blank or planchet weight was based on two factors: strip rolling/drawbench operations and blank cutting. As technology improved and rolling became more accurate, the proportion of irregular metal strips decreased. Likewise for accuracy in cutting.

    By the early teens, most blanks were close enough to tolerance that overweight ones could be rolled or edge filed to take of a tiny amount of metal. Improvements not only reduced the amount of filing but also reduce the quantity of underweight blanks, thereby cutting remelting.

    Leather aprons and leather covered work tables were used to catch filings, shoes and other clothing was kept at the mint, and workers changed before and after work. Clothes were burned monthly. Every fragment of gold and silver was tracked between departments and operations. Even the hand washing water was stored for eventual removal of metal dust.

    See **From Mine to Mint **for an excellent description of the Adjusting rooms and workers.

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭

    A couple more, an 1811 capped bust $5, and a 1795 half dollar that has wonderful adjustment marks:

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for all the images @Nysoto.

    They prove the file lines are virtually straight and they can go in many directions on the same coin - and on both sides!

    Looking at the images does anyone care to share some of the differences between MOST adjustment marks and scratches. The answers are in front of us.

  • astroratastrorat Posts: 8,057 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Insider2 said:
    Thanks for all the images @Nysoto.

    They prove the file lines are virtually straight and they can go in many directions on the same coin - and on both sides!

    Looking at the images does anyone care to share some of the differences between MOST adjustment marks and scratches. The answers are in front of us.

    Marks made to a planchet before striking will be continuous across the field and devices, such as with adjustment marks and roller marks. Scratches made after the coin is struck have a slight break between the field and devices as the scratching device moves field to device and vice-versa.

    Numismatist Ordinaire
    See http://www.doubledimes.com for a free online reference for US twenty-cent pieces
  • ElmerFusterpuckElmerFusterpuck Posts: 2,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Cool, my thread got more life. Some good stuff to read here for sure. I'll take some more pics of this coin at different angles to see if that will help any. It would seem a bit odd that PCGS would straight grade this coin if they were actual scratches, but you never know.

  • topstuftopstuf Posts: 12,181 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't see any continuation of the marks from devices to field that I would...think...would be the case with scratches.
    The marks seem to stop exactly where they would if the coin were struck ...over... the marks.

    ??

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That's one indication. Anyone think of a few more?

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭

    Scratches will have displaced metal - ridges on both sides of the scratch, although these ridges can be worn down in circulation.

    Adjustment marks usually have a continuation from devices to fields, however the fields are the highest point of the dies and they can press out or obliterate the adjustment marks in the fields during the metal deformation of the strike, and adjustment marks sometimes show on the highest point of the coin (lowest of the dies). Also, die settings of that time period are often slightly out of parallel, and adjustment marks will show on the struck coin on the side that had some weakness in the strike - all of these can be seen in the examples that I posted.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    MORE, MORE characteristics please. The two most obvious have not been mentioned yet! Look at the OP's coin.

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭

    Adjustment marks are straight or a very slight arc, scratches can be crooked.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Ok, what do the inside of adjustment marks look like when they are not toned or filled with dirt? What do the ends look like. What about both ends when the mark does not go off the planchet.

    @Nysoto and the other advanced numismatists...please let the others here think about it and have a chance to reply.

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 27,388 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Whatever you guys decide about mint caused adjustment marks, I’ll toss this warning to you from the get-go. Coins with lots of adjustment marks are a bear to sell. Don't get fooled by the stuff about how it does not affect the grade because they are mint caused. A bunch of adjustment marks, like the ones on that 1795 Flowing Hair half dollar will lower its value by a considerable degree. I know from personal experience.

    I got blow back from dealers when I sold this 1795 Flowing Hair dollar. It sold, but it was not easy. The coin is 100% original with no issues other than the adjustment marks, which I never found to be that bad.


    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible.
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    OK, the inside surface of an adjustment mark is a specific area that does not touch the dies. Therefore the microscopic appearance of this type of mark has the color and texture of the unstruck planchet. A scratch ruins the original struck or unstruck (in cases of strike weakness) surface. When fresh they are shiny. Microscopically they just look lie a scratch - often blunt at one end and perhaps even varying in depth from one end to the other. Scratches tend to stop just before they reach the relief and then continue on to the relief. Since adjustment marks are affected by the strike, they tend to close up at both ends. Now check out the OP's coin again. There are both scratches and adjustment marks visible.

  • ElmerFusterpuckElmerFusterpuck Posts: 2,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here are a couple more pics, this time with a phone and different angles. All input is welcomed!


  • topstuftopstuf Posts: 12,181 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Scratch scratches. No matter the origin.

  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @topstuf said:
    Scratch scratches. No matter the origin.

    Cannot argue with this. Adjustment marks are scratches to the planchet.

  • habaracahabaraca Posts: 1,392 ✭✭✭

    I am told these are Planchet roller marks......
    1808 O-110A


  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭✭

    @BillJones:

    Whatever you guys decide about mint caused adjustment marks, I’ll toss this warning to you from the get-go. Coins with lots of adjustment marks are a bear to sell. Don't get fooled by the stuff about how it does not affect the grade because they are mint caused.

    Adjustment marks will usually lower the value, especially if through the portrait. However, the most expensive coin ever sold has adjustment marks on both sides.

    The 1795 half dollar I posted had a variety of grades over the years, from research by @PreTurb in a November 16, 2004 post: https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/340688/tracking-a-1795-half

    "1) First known listing: Nov 19, 1936, J.C.Morgenthau
    2) AU50, (net VF30); "extensive adj mks obv", Jun 1988, B+M, Everson/Faught, Lot 2006, $2530
    3) MS60, "extensive adj mks obv", Sep 1988, Superior, Lee/Shaffer, Lot 4265, $2860
    4) AU50, "extensive adj mks obv", Jan 1992, B+M, Brilliant, Lot 23, $1210
    5) AU58, "heavy adj mks obv", Jul 1993, Heritage, ANA-Baltimore, Lot 5296, $4290
    6) EF45, "heavy adj mks obv", Nov 1999, B+M, Lindesmith/LaRiviere, Lot 2030, $1840
    7) SEGS-55, (SEGS: Adjustment Marks); "numerous adj mks obv", Aug 2001, Heritage, ANA-Atlanta, Lot 8851, $2818
    8) ANACS-40, (AU net Adjustment Marks); "adj mks obv", Feb 2002, Heritage, Long Beach, Lot 5725, $3335
    9) ANACS-40, (AU net Adjustment Marks); "adj mks obv, green-gold and lavender patina", Jun 2002, Heritage, Long Beach, Lot 7180, $3220
    10) NGC-45, "heavy adjustment mks obv", Nov 2003, Heritage, New York, Lot 6593, $6038"

    One more auction for this coin (the NGC grade is not a misprint): Bowers and Merena 7/04 lot 598 NGC AU58, did not sell.
    There may be others since that time for the coin.

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty
  • Insider2Insider2 Posts: 10,267 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 12, 2019 9:33AM

    @habaraca said:
    I am told these are Planchet roller marks......
    1808 O-110A


    Roller marks go in the same direction. The way to determine they are not scratches is the same as for adjustment marks. I suspect from what I've seen that roller marks are not as deep. As posted above, the date the coin was made helps with the determination as after a certain time the planchets were adjusted on their edge.

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