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Did Henry Voight make a mistake with the Chain AMERI. Cent?

BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,471 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited September 22, 2017 9:41AM in U.S. Coin Forum

The 1793 Chain AMERI. Cent has long been a collectors’ treasure. One of the main reasons for that is that it was struck from the first die pair that was made to produce the first U.S. cent.

Why did Henry Voight, who is now credited with marking the dies, leave off the last letters in the word “AMERICA?” The reason I have heard was because he thought that the reverse would look unbalanced if he had punched in the word in full.

I have been fooling with a photo of a Chain AMERI. Cent to see if that is true. Here is the coin as it was made.

And here is the coin with the last two letters added to "AMERICA."

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. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?

Comments

  • tommy44tommy44 Posts: 2,192 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice job but I don't think anyone would buy the one with the added letters. :p

    Actually, great job. In my opinion it does look unbalanced with the full word.

    it's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,532 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Obviously he botched the spacing and tried to compensate. Would have been better had he just finished it.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The normal process of engraving a die has several preliminary steps before any cutting or letter punching occurs. These would have given the designer ample opportunity to adjust his composition. The abbreviation, although odd to our perceptions, was not uncommon in the 18th century.

  • BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,471 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The abbreviation, although odd to our perceptions, was not uncommon in the 18th century.

    And well before the 18th century. People who know Latin have trouble reading the Ancient Roman coins at first because of the abbreviations.

    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. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yep. "G.W. Pt"

  • northcoinnorthcoin Posts: 4,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @RogerB said:
    The abbreviation, although odd to our perceptions, was not uncommon in the 18th century.

    Evidently also extended into the 19th century. Here is an example I once owned:

  • NysotoNysoto Posts: 3,767 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 22, 2017 10:58AM

    Spacing error or planned abbreviation - both are good conjecture.

    Why did Henry Voight, who is now credited with marking the dies

    Most agree with that statement, and I believe Voigt almost certainly engraved the dies (it was the coiners duty to engrave per the Coinage Act, and Boudinot said Voigt "was obliged to make the dies for himself").

    However:

    Bob Birch was paid for services at the Mint in the spring and summer of 1793. Was this for engraving? Is this the same B. Birch who engraved in NY, and the same Birch who engraved in Philadelphia in 1789, and the same Birch as on the Birch Cent?

    Jacob Bay was paid for engraving punches in 1793. Is this all he engraved? Isaiah Thomas did call Jacob Bay "a man of great ingenuity."

    Robert Scot: Engraving Liberty - biography of US Mint's first chief engraver
  • TreashuntTreashunt Posts: 6,747 ✭✭✭✭✭

    He forgot how to spell it, got to that point and said "ah, rats" and hit the period

    Frank

    BHNC #203

  • StoogeStooge Posts: 4,643 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think it would look balanced if you moved "United States of" over about a mm or 2 to adjust the space between all of the words.


    Later, Paul.
  • BUFFNIXXBUFFNIXX Posts: 2,701 ✭✭✭✭✭

    right now there is an electrotype on eBay for the 1793 chain america cent pictured herein.......
    price is $199 for this electrotype made around 1860. a great way for a large cent collector to fill that big hole.

    Collector of Buffalo Nickels and other 20th century United States Coinage
    a.k.a "The BUFFINATOR"
  • yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,593 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 22, 2017 10:18PM

    I'll try to finish the job!

    It gains a little symmetry, but there remains the problem that STATES is shorter than AMERICA.

  • ZoinsZoins Posts: 33,811 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 23, 2017 8:58AM

    Ending words with an arbitrary period seems to be commonplace into the 19th century. Just think of the territorial dolls vs dollars. It could be that people didn't really think of it as a big issue back then. I don't know if they were mistakes or intentional but they are very historic now.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Probably realized the aesthetics late in the engraving.... Early on, it would have been easy to balance. Cheers, RickO

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There were several techniques used to place a design on soft steel. This is one that was often used.

    1. The design was worked out as pencil or ink sketches.
    2. A final version, in mirror image, was made on smooth dense paper using drafting tools and carbon-oil ink. This was about 5-inches in diameter.
    3. This large design was reduced to coin diameter using a simple pantograph with a very sharp pen or hard graphite pencil. The receiving material was thin tough paper with a very smooth surface.
    4. The raw steel die was given a very thin coat of bee’s wax.
    5. The paper design was pressed over the die face and tied into place so it would not move.
    6. The die was cooled.
    7. The engraver or die cutter then punched many very tiny holes through the paper along the design outline and details.
    8. Fine carbon dust (lamp black) was sprinkled on the paper and carefully worked into the holes. This transferred the design to the wax coated die surface. Gentle pressure from a flat tool helped work the carbon into the wax.
    9. After removing the paper, the engraver began cutting along the dotted lines, slowly creating an incuse rendering of the original design.

    A second method was to make the reduced design with high carbon ink that would not dry. The paper was placed in direct contact with the die end and the sticky lines stuck to the steel. This was less accurate because of compression and spreading of ink.

  • RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Irregularities in the chain cent reverse, show that individual letter punches were used for all inscriptions, and a chain-link punch was custom cut so that each link could be punched separately. The only hand-drawn part was probably the horizontal fraction line.

    Practice, technology, and contemporary usage all point to the design being deliberate in all respects.

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