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Cartwheeling or no cartwheeling...that is the question...

Piano1Piano1 Posts: 233 ✭✭✭

Just curious. Back in my ancient history as a collector, I remember the term "cartwheeling" or cartwheel effect, being used on silver coins (mainly silver dollars) in a high state of preservation. The term referred to how the luster on the coin flowed evenly around the circle as you rotated it under light as opposed to just reflecting the light back. (Poor explanation but I hope you get the idea.) Once the surfaces of a coin are sufficiently disrupted, the cartwheel effect can not be replicated. Original luster would "cartwheel', while more circulated or cleaned coins :# would not cartwheel. Is there a "new term" for this effect or do the pros still use it. Is it unique to silver (and perhaps gold) and how does it impact grading?




  • TrampTramp Posts: 651 ✭✭✭✭✭

    As far as I know it's still used.

    USAF (Ret.) 1985 - 2005. E-4B Aircraft Maintenance Crew Chief and Contracting Officer.
    My current Registry sets:
    ✓ Everyman Mint State Carson City Morgan Dollars (1878 – 1893)
    ✓ Everyman Mint State Lincoln Cents (1909 – 1958)
    ✓ Morgan Dollar GSA Hoard (1878 – 1891)

  • JWPJWP Posts: 16,416 ✭✭✭✭✭

    From what I read cart wheeling effect was primarily used in the 1800s and early 1900s. Primarily was used With describing the light effect on a Morgan Dollar. I've never used the term but that's all I could find about i

    USN & USAF retired 1971-1993
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  • Piano1Piano1 Posts: 233 ✭✭✭

    Wow, JWP. After reading your response, I feel like I belong in the Smithsonian Museum. :D I Started collecting in the later 1900s so I'm still kicking and I recall the term "cartwheeling" being in use in my younger collector days. I seem to recall its association with silver dollars so you're right about that. I wonder, now with certification/slabbing being so prominent, if the actual slab obscures the cartwheeling effect so the term is no longer in use? Just a thought. I guess I will need to hunt down a nice BU slabbed Morgan to see if it still "cartwheels". I'm on a mission now. I guess it's back to the bank soon.

    Thanks for your thoughts!


  • winestevenwinesteven Posts: 3,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 22, 2023 8:22PM

    Very lustrous Morgan’s still have the “cartwheel effect” in the slab, AND that term is used today! This is slightly different from the noun “cartwheel”, which as @JWP correctly says, was used as a synonym for Silver dollars back in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. You’re referring to the cartwheel effect one sees when twirly a highly lustrous Morgan or Peace Dollar.

    Here’s a hotlink to an article that appeared just four weeks ago!!!!!


    Separately, I recognize the humor with the play on words from Shakespeare in your title to this post. Whenever I use mikes to upgrade to first class on a flight, I try to pick seat 2B. Then as I board, I’ll ask the flight attendant, “Is this seat 2B or not 2B, that is the question?”


    A day without fine wine and working on your coin collection is like a day without sunshine!!!

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