by Frank M. Zapushek, www.bakercoins.net

It is now January and snow is on the ground. The air is crisp and the tree branches can be heard blowing in the wind. Time to through a log in the fireplace and snuggle up in a comfortable chair with a loup, a directional lamp and a good coin.

The best coin I have read in a long time was an 1854 O Liberty Seated half dollar by Christian Gobrecht with an introduction by James B. Longacre. It had good eye appeal, a great story line and a unexpected finish. The butler did not do it !

The 1854 O coin included the listing cut out of an auction catalogue. The coin was listed as Lot 1306 : “1854 O Arrows at date. A very sharply struck, pleasing example with lovely gold and blue-green toning…..Fully struck on the head and with a vividly double date.”

As soon as I started, I notice how well struck the coin was and that it was a very early die stage. Next, the pileus (liberty cap) and the pole drew me like a magnet. I noticed the secondary rounded image completely around the pileus and the pole. A beautiful example of “Longacre Doubling” or “outline doubling”.

Next my attention is drawn to the stars. I notice a secondary rounded image completely around the stars. But I also notice that there is no secondary image on the lines forming the inside elements of the star. This can not be a doubled die.

Next my attention is drawn to the stars. I notice a secondary rounded image completely around the stars. But I also notice that there is no secondary image on the lines forming the inside elements of the star. This can not be a doubled die.

The doubling is completely down the side of Miss Liberty and the rock.

Next my attention is drawn to the stars. I notice a secondary rounded image completely around the stars. But I also notice that there is no secondary image on the lines forming the inside elements of the star. This can not be a doubled die.

The doubling is completely down the side of Miss Liberty and the rock.

Moving further down to the date, I noticed the rounded doubling on the right side of the “4”. I notice that on the right side of the base of the “4”, there is a little spur connecting the base of the “4” and the lower portion of the crossbar. On the left side of the base I noticed a small spur notched downward.

Some would say that the doubling on the inside of the “4” proves that it could not be “Longacre Doubling”. But it helps when reading a coin to remember a phrase of mine. “Opposites is Opposites” This is not good english, but it helps to remember the minting process. What is raised on the coin is recessed on the working die.

Because the coin is angled to reflect light up into the microscope, some parts of the photograph do not show the rounded doubling. The image of the “8” gives another example of the doubling on the inside and the outside of the “8”. This doubling is completely around the outside and the inside of the “8”. Even though it does not show on the image provided.

Do not confuse “Longacre Doubling” with “Machine Doubling Damage” (MDD) or “Strike Doubling”. MDD is flat and self like and there is metal flow between the two images. MDD is caused because

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the die is loose in the coinage press. Allowing the die to twist or bounce as the pressure is being released on the die after striking the planchet.

“Longacre Doubling” is rounded and you can see where the primary and secondary image starts and stops. There are two thoughts as to what causes “Longacre Doubling”. Both theories end up with the same result.

From about 1836 till 1886, the main design elements where put on the galvano and a reducing lath transferred the design onto the master hub. The master hub was raised or incused, because the metal was removed to leave the design of the galvano. The master hub was then used to make a master die. The master hub was pressed into the die steel to form the master die, so the master die had a recessed design.

The engraver would then use a punch to place the outer design on the master die. If the engraver wanted to give the punch more detail, he could shave the sides of the punch, leaving a lip on the punch.

If the engraver hit the punch extra hard, the lip would be incused into the master die. Thus causing the Longacre doubling on the working hub, the working die and the coin.

The second theory is after the design elements were placed on the master die, the engraver would go back over the design moving the punch just a little. This would place a small lip on the die to help the metal flow into the die.

It is also believed that Mr. Longacre felt this would give the dies a longer life and provide more coins from each die. Helping to reduces the expense of die production.

Both theories would produce a rounded doubling, but it is not considered a doubled die because the master die is only hubbed once and there is no separation of the serifs.

Not all dies produced the “Longacre Doubling”. On those that did produces the doubling, it will slowly disappeared as the die strikes more coins. Or if the die is polished for any reason. So, if a coin as the full doubling like this coin, it must be a very early die stage.

I am more inclined to believe the second theory because it explains why the doubling is found on Miss Liberty and the rock along with the outer design elements of the coin..

“Longacre Doubling” stopped appearing in 1886 when engraver Charles E. Barber added the motto to the master hub. Ah yes, a story to be read on another coin. James B. Longacre was appointed Chief Engraver of the MInt on September 16, 1844, after the death of Christian Gobrecht. Longacre was Chief Engraver until his death on January 1, 1869. Longacre’s designs were used on hundreds of patterns and trial pieces. The most famous is his Indian Head cent.

Have a coin question? Let us know at a coin show or contact us. Frank M. Zapushek, PO Box 1993, Bloomington, IL 61702-1993 email: mrz@bakercoins.net.

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