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1936 - 1942 Cameo Proofs Die Catalog

FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

To start, I will note that a complete version has been done on the NGC boards. However, as I go through and update the catalog, I will be posting the listings here. A in depth explanation is below, and I will update the OP post and comments as I go through.

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This is a die study of the known cameo proof coins and their die pairs based on PCGS and NGC certification. This guide’s intention is to serve as a deterrent to counterfeiters who wish to deceive collectors. It can, however, serve as a guide for collectors who wish to search for a coin from dies that had the best details they had to offer. These dies are almost always the dies that produced cameo coins. By being able to match a coin to a die pair that produced cameo coins of a later die state, collectors can obtain a coin with much higher attractiveness than usual for a normal price. The cataloger has relied upon NGC and PCGS certification, but reserves the right to include PCGS/NGC coins that have been examined in hand and meet the catalog's required quality for a CAM example.

This catalog will define a Cameo as the following: A 1936-1942 Proof coin struck from dies which show the original frost from the die making process, whether that be from acid or the natural surface. This frost will be contrasted against mirrors which attain a deep appearance, and these mirrors will often appear black. No large areas of brilliance will be noticeable in the devices.

Only coins with verifiable cameo dies and cameo die pairs were included, which required high quality images. These are all known and discoverable cameo die pairs for the era. Multiple altered coins were discovered in this undertaking, which was a major reason for its production. Such coins can be altered by taking a normal non-cameo coin and adding a solvent to the devices that make them appear white or coppery. When well done, this alteration can be extremely difficult to spot, even for a professional. As such, several coins have made their way into TPGS holders as altered coins, yet they were not spotted as such. The TPGS have been fervently hunting such coins and to correct their errors. The best tool for a collector to avoid this is to use die matching, which can be achieved by use of this guide. By analyzing the die pairs used in the production of these coins, it is likely that no other altered coin will ever be certified.

The numbers used are Cameo Numbers, abbreviated CA-X. The X will be replaced by the number of the die in the order it appears in the sequence of denomination and year order, commonly referred to as “Redbook order”. All cents will come before nickels and so forth.

For dies discovered or added after the original set of study is complete, their numbers will come after the highest currently known die number. For a coin to be considered, it must be graded as a cameo by PCGS or NGC, with the exception being if the cataloger examines a coin in hand and deems it to be a Cameo. This will not be done for any coins the cataloger owns. ANACS and ICG coins will be considered, so long as the contrast can be verified. CACG coins will not be considered at this time. In addition, another coin from the same die pair must show a similar degree of contrast, though it may not be certified as a cameo. This is used as an anti-counterfeiting safeguard. High quality images are needed for die markers and verification. In the case a cameo coin has been certified but high quality images are not available and no other cameo coins exist, the coin will be listed as “Unverified” for the sake of completion.

Die markers chosen are those that are most visible on an image. More are present than stated, but two or three of the most obvious markers were chosen. Once markers can be used to distinguish one die pair from all other pairs, no more markers are needed.

All information relating to die use dates is from Roger Burdette’s work on the subject, titled United States Proof Coins 1936-1942.

Coins that state “possible use dates” were not able to be conclusively narrowed down to a single die pair. Coins that state “use date” were able to be conclusively narrowed down to a single die pair.

Example
CA-X (Cameo Number)
Possible Use Dates: Dates that new die pairs were used or where the die use could be narrowed to a day or set of days.
Die Markers: Markers of each die and images of those markers.
Description and Coins Possible: Description of the coins and contrasted coins likely remaining. Estimates of surviving coins are those that would be designated cameo, or in the case that very few cameos would exist, those that are strongly contrasted on one side of the coin.
Image: Image of a cameo proof or near cameo from the same die pair. (Usually a TrueView from CoinFacts)
Commentary has been provided for examples of Cameos that the cataloger has viewed in person.

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1936 Proof Cent
CA-1
Possible Use Dates: September 15th, unknown date (incomplete die records).
Die Markers: Die gouge at eye. Die scratches at neck, impression midway up the N in CENT.


Figure One: Die gouge at eye.
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Figure Two: Die scratches at neck.
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Figure Three: Impression midway up the N in CENT. This was likely caused by a foreign substance entering between the coin and planchet and remaining on the dies for a time. Every known cameo proof has this impression.

Description and Coins Possible: There appears to only be one die pair capable of striking proof cameo 1936 cents, but since die records are missing for a large part of the year, one cannot be sure of this. All Cameos currently known appear to come from the same die pair. The cent is the only currently known 1936 cameo proof, which makes it quite rare in the series and it commands a substantial premium. Less than twenty contrasted pieces are likely to exist today. Overall contrast is generally impressive, only rivaled by 1937 and 1942 Cameos of high quality.

Images:
PCGS PR65CAM, courtesy of PCGS TrueView.

PCGS PR66RB.

Commentary on PCGS PR66RB: While not designated CAM, the cataloger feels it is important to include this coin, as it appears to be a Cameo upon in hand inspection. All devices are fully frosted and mirrors are impressively deep, outdoing a large majority of 1942 Cameos for contrast. The coin nearly beats a designated 1937 example, but does not manage a DCAM reverse. Overall, the contrast is impressive, and is not light or lacking depth. Coins from this die pair will likely be in high demand.
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1937 Proof Cent
CA-2
Possible Use Dates: January 5th, March 18th, September 8th, October 4th.
Die Markers: Striations off of the N in ONE and E in AMERICA, as well as throughout reverse. Circular die striations on the obverse portrait. Brilliant cheek high points.


Figure One: Circular die scratches can be seen on Lincoln’s portrait. This is likely from a rotating lap that was charged with coarse polish to “rough out” the die, and then charged with fine polish to make the mirror finish.
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Figure Two: Heavy die striations are present on the reverse.
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Figure Three: An area of brilliance can be seen on the cheek of Lincoln. This is not present on all coins as the frost wore to an even state, but it does appear on all early die state coins. A second area of brilliance (not circled) is only present on some coins and does not appear in the same area. This could have been caused by debris in the high points of the die. Note that the spot in the lower right of the brilliant area is not a part of the coins, but is sitting on top of it, and thus is not a die characteristic.

Description and Coins Possible: A deep cameo reverse is common. It is likely that this die produced around forty to fifty cameo coins. Several Ultra Cameo coins were produced from this die pair, which would lead one to believe that this date and denomination is quite common when compared to other cameos of the era. It appears that this die pair was repolished and produced a scant number of cameos after, perhaps three or four.

Images:

PCGS PR67CAM, courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts:

NGC PF66RD CAM:

Commentary on NGC 66CAM: Obverse shows weaker contrast than reverse. Overall contrast is seemingly average to above average for graded CAMs, with all devices being fully frosted to heavily frosted. Die markers on reverse are strong. Mirrors are a deep black on both sides of the coin. Eye appeal is high due to contrast. This particular example shows a pinkish coloring that appears to be a result of storage outside of the original cellophane. It approaches red-brown.

Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

Comments

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    WaterSportWaterSport Posts: 6,709 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is just super exciting stuff to me. Thank you so much for sharing. Meanwhile, I will go take a close look and see what my 36 and 37 proof dies revel.

    WS

    Proud recipient of the coveted PCGS Forum "You Suck" Award Thursday July 19, 2007 11:33 PM and December 30th, 2011 at 8:50 PM.
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    Manifest_DestinyManifest_Destiny Posts: 3,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great info!

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    Eldorado9Eldorado9 Posts: 2,111 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Fantastic research in a little known area of Numismatics. You really have done some great work here buddy, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the denominations. You have the start of book here!!!! Great Work! Makes me want some 36-42 cameos!!! unfortunately they are like hens teeth!

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    robecrobec Posts: 6,603 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Any idea on how many die pairs were used per year? Were the dies that produced cameos used long enough to have produced non Cameo as well? Lots of similarities between this series of proof Lincoln’s and the MPLs concerning diagnostics and die pairings. Great start!

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    FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:
    Any idea on how many die pairs were used per year? Were the dies that produced cameos used long enough to have produced non Cameo as well? Lots of similarities between this series of proof Lincoln’s and the MPLs concerning diagnostics and die pairings. Great start!

    Roughly 30 die pairs for the entire era for all denominations.

    Most of these produced only CAM coins, were repolished, and can no longer be traced due to that repolish.

    Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

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    ChrisH821ChrisH821 Posts: 6,333 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very nice work! I bet the die gouge by the eye on 1936 would be traceable to non-cameo coins struck from that die.

    Collector, occasional seller

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    FrazFraz Posts: 1,855 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for posting the article.

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    Insider3Insider3 Posts: 260 ✭✭✭

    True numismatics!

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    DMWJRDMWJR Posts: 5,975 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you so much for this

    Doug
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    FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks guys. A reminder that the two above are only 2/30+ that are over at the linked NGC thread.

    I cannot say how frustrating it can be to have threads like the CACG one get hundreds of replies, while research gets little to no response. Regardless, I do use this myself so it does get its use in.

    Young Numismatist, Coin Photographer.

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    Morgan13Morgan13 Posts: 893 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Pretty cool write up and well done research. I learned about a type that I do not collect but I sure would like to own one. Beautiful coins.

    Student of numismatics and collector of Morgan dollars
    Successful BST transactions with: Namvet Justindan Mattniss RWW olah_in_MA

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