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Discovering Seated Liberty Dime Varieties

1838-O Seated Liberty Dime

I recently took on a private contract to write short guides to certain coins. I thought that I could tackle anything they could think of until I was told I had to write between 500-2000 words (four pages) about Seated Liberty Dime Varieties.

Most of what I know about Seated Liberty Dimes are from references like the Red Book. Of course, that is not enough information to write for an entire article, so I went searching for a better reference when I came upon the work by Gerry Fortin. Fortin’s site, seateddimevarieties.com, is the result of his work in understanding all of the varieties of Seated Liberty Dime since he began researching these varieties in 1988.

Fortin’s research documents over 100 different die varieties which he cataloged on his website. He reports that there are 200 date and mintmark varieties when including errors, re-punched dates, or other anomalies. Fortin’s catalog numbers are used by the third-party grading services to identify varieties on their holders. This is the definitive reference for Seated Liberty Dime varieties! If you are interested in the detail of Seated Liberty Dime varieties, you should bookmark seateddimevarieties.com. But for the general numismatist, aspects of his work should be merged with the mainstream.

In most of the numismatic references, including what I had included on the U.S. Coins by Type page, there are five major varieties of Seated Liberty Dimes:

  • Type 1: No Stars on Obverse (1837-1838)
  • Type 2: Stars on Obverse (1838-1853, 1856-1860)
  • Type 3: Arrows at Date (1853-1855)
  • Type 4: Legend on Obverse (1860-1873, 1875-1891)
  • Type 5: Arrows at Date (1873-1874)

Using Fortin’s research, if you consider changes in the design a new major type, there should be three additional varieties. Fortin documents these as one of the major design groups. One variety not included in the mainstream publications is the addition of drapery by Liberty’s left hand. This would split the old Type 2 varieties into two.

The change in 1860 that moves the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” to the obverse of the coin. On the reverse, the laurel wreath was changed to a wreath composed of cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, corn, wheat and oak leaves enclosing the denomination of “ONE DIME” that was created in a larger font. The wreath is sometimes called “Newlin’s Wreath of Cereal” after Harold P. Newlin, a prominent numismatist of his day, who was said to have suggested the idea of the wreath to then U.S Mint Director James Ross Snowden. The updated design was created by James B. Longacre.

Further splitting the old Type 4 began in 1861 when the hubs were fixed to improve the striking quality of the coin. Liberty was given a thinner appearance and the number of lines on the shield above “LIBERTY” was increased to six lines. This is known as a Type II Obverse with a Type I reverse.

When the weight of the coin was changed as part of the Crime of ’73, arrowheads were added to either side of the date of the Type 4 design for a two-year period. Since the arrows were punched directly into the dies, their exact position can vary. Once the new design was released, the U.S. Mint began melting down coins dated 1873 that did not have arrows.

There were some dimes that slipped through the melting process. Dimes from the Carson City Mint were missed which today is considered of the most famous of all 19th-century rarities, the 1873-CC No Arrows Seated Liberty Dime.

Chief Engraver William Barber redesigned the reverse dies in 1876 to improve striking. Although similar to the “Newlin’s Wreath of Cereal” design, there are enough subtle differenced for Fortin to call this a Type II Reverse. Fortin notes that Type I and Type II reverses were used for striking coins from 1876 to 1878 except for 1877 in San Francisco. There have been no reported examples of Type I reverse coins struck in San Francisco during 1877.

After reading Fortin’s reference I decided that Seated Liberty Dimes should note that there are eight varieties instead of the five noted in other publications. This would be for collectors looking to build an interesting typeset of Seated Liberty Dimes. This is why I updated the Seated Liberty Dime entry on my U.S. Coins by Type page as follows:

  • Type 1: No Stars on Obverse (1837-1838)
  • Type 2: Stars on Obverse, No Drapery Under Right Elbow (1838-1840)
  • Type 3: Stars on Obverse, With Drapery Under Right Elbow (1840-1860)
  • Type 4: Type 3 design with Arrows around Date (1853-1855)
  • Type 5: Legend on Obverse [Type I], Longacre “Wreath of Cereal” Reverse [Type I] (1860-1861)
  • Type 6: Legend on Obverse [Type II], “Wreath of Cereal” Reverse [Type I] (1861-1873, 1875-1878)
  • Type 7: Type 6 design with Arrows around the Date (1873-1874)
  • Type 8: Legend on Obverse [Type II], W. Barber “Wreath of Cereal” Reverse [Type II] (1876-1891)

This has now inspired me to look into other early varieties and update my online reference accordingly. Although it will not go into the detail of the research, giving the collector more information is better than just glossing over a topic.

All Seated Liberty Dime images courtesy and copyright by Gerry Fortin.

Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter — SERVICE UPDATE

Since Volume 22 of the “Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter” will not be sent via email, the following would have been the exclusive content included in the newsletter. A service update follows.

Counterfeiting remains a problem for society and the collector’s market. This was highlighted this week with two stories I posted about scammers and opportunists preying on the public too eager to believe.

In the collector’s market, scammers are taking advantage of the Royal Mint’s myriad of errors on the new £1 coin and mocking up their own errors to sell online. The error coins are clearly contrived because most either remove the center copper-nickel section or replace it in reverse, showing the Queen’s portrait on the wrong side. A few have been polishing the side with the Queen’s portrait to resemble the 2016 version that was issued by the Royal Mint to businesses for testing.

Canadian authorities have found that altered $5 notes are being used to forge $100 notes. Currently, the $5 note is made of polymer and scammers have found that by cutting out the features in the clear window and taping over the cutouts and still be used. Scammers print their own $100 notes, which are still printed on cotton bond currency paper, and use the clear window to make the notes look legitimate. The problem is that if people looked at the notes, its alterations and counterfeits are easily detectable.

It is interesting that people are so willing to try to figure out how to counterfeit currency, especially when it can be detected if someone put in the time to look. It says a lot about a society when the number one blog post on my site is “How easy is it to pass counterfeit currency” where I discussed the use of the iodine pen and the number one clicked link is the one to the site where I borrowed the image of the of the iodine pen.

The scary part is that people are not paying attention to the simple measures.

SERVICE UPDATE

Because of an issue with the provider, the Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter has been suspended.

Unfortunately, the automated system run by MailChimp appeared to have choked on the word “counterfeit.” I am not sure if this is the exact reason for the problem, but their support is so bad that I have not been able to contact a human to explain the issue to me. When I tried to find another provider (SendInBlue based in France), I was accused of being a spammer. Based on what I can find out, MailChimp may have added me to a non-public database blackballing me from finding another service.

If that is the case, then I will likely create a self-hosted newsletter service. Although it is something I am technically capable of doing I was hoping to relieve myself of the management responsibility. Until I can determine my next move, I am suspending the newsletter. Sorry!

Delay for Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter

To all the readers expecting the Weekly Numismatic World Newsletter, I apologize for the delay. Chalk this up to the list provider over abusing automation and blocking my account.

According to the mailing list service, I violated their Terms of Service (TOS). I do not know how I violated the TOS because when I click on their links for the reason, I am sent to their Terms of Service web page. It’s like being punished but not knowing why you are being punished!

The notice I received said that the third-party service that they contract with to check for violators to the TOS is a computer without the smarts of Watson or common sense to understand context. In other words, it was programmed by a bunch of geeks whose knowledge of fuzzy logic defies Boolean logic. I used to work with these types of people… they would drive me crazy!

After some serious word parsing of the TOS, I think it might be because I was talking about counterfeiting. I was not promoting counterfeiting, selling counterfeit items, nor was I providing instruction how to counterfeit, but I was providing a cautionary note with regard to the recent stories about the fake British £1 coin errors and the counterfeited Canadian $100 note.

Unfortunately, the ability to communicate with a sentient being at this company is limited to clicking on a link and sending an email. Since I do not know when they will come to their senses and re-activate my account, I cannot tell you when you will receive the newsletter.

I want to keep the content exclusive to the newsletter. However, if the problem is not resolved by tonight (Monday, June 5), I will post what I wrote here and look for a new provider.

Beware of counterfeit Canadian currency

Police in Vancouver, British Columbia has discovered that criminals are altering the new polymer notes to create counterfeits that are being passed in the region. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Bank of Canada are warning merchants that criminals are splicing $5 bills to remove the holographic strips and add them to color-copied $100 notes to make them seem less suspicious.

In order to make sure that the clear window in the polymer notes does not raise suspicion, clear packing tape has been used on the altered $5 notes to cover the alteration.

Discovered in Metro Vancouver, police found that a careful examination of the notes shows that the $5 notes can be altered in a way that does not raise suspicion while creating $100 notes that has been passed with little notice, until recently.

A representative from the Bank of Canada says that criminals are preying on the fact that people are not verifying the notes. The Bank of Canada issued a release urging merchants to check the notes for more than one of the security features.

Travelers to Canada and United States dealers that accept Canadian currency as a convenience to their customers from north of the border should learn about the embedded security features before accepting these notes. Visit the Bank of Canada Banknote website for more information as to how to recognize legitimate currency.

Clarification Update: The three lower denomination Canadian notes ($5, $10, and $20) are made using the polymer substrate. The higher denomination note ($50 and $100) are still made with rag bond paper. These notes are scheduled to be converted to polymer in the next few years.
All currency images courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

Beware of fake British pound errors

On the left is an altered British £1 coin. The coin on the right is a legitimate coin.

As the British public transitions to the new £1 coin, the finding of errors in the minting process by the Royal Mint have led to a new phenomenon, the counterfeiting of those errors.

According to media reports confirmed by the Royal Mint, the three significant errors found are when the thistle on the reverse did not strike properly is produced as a smooth blob, the copper-nickel center of the bimetallic planchet appears to have melted across the coin, and the inner disc and outer ring did not fuse properly. Coins with legitimate errors have been sold on eBay (U.K. and U.S.) for significant premiums.

Unfortunately, scammers have picked up on these problems and have been selling altered coins on eBay as errors. Common alterations are based on removing the silver-colored center and create error-like coins by making different alterations. Amongst the tries to create something that looks like an error includes the Queen’s portrait appearing on the wrong side of the coin and facing the wrong direction which is impossible because of the how these coins are struck, the center of the obverse lacking the Queen’s portrait, and gouges removed from the center.

Both the errors and fakes are being sold for an average of £300 (approx. $386.13) on eBay.

If you want to purchase a British £1 error coin carefully examine the image and the image of a legitimate coin from the Royal Mint’s website. Make sure the person you are buying from has a return policy or buy from a dealer. Of course, it is easier to be careful buying from the U.K. on that side of the Atlantic, but for those U.S.-based error enthusiasts, you have to do your due diligence. Otherwise, you may get stuck with a fake!

Known legitimate errors
Image of counterfeit courtesy of AOL (UK) Money.
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