Wayne Miller writes about the Morgan annealing process, "each mint basined, machined and hardened its own dies. If the die was not hardened sufficiently through annealing, the die surface would tend to sink at the moment of striking due to the tremendous force involved".
If in fact, Philadelphia put in all dates and mint marks by hand before shipping there was terrible quality control with mispositioned dates, mispositioned mint marks, double dates, double mint marks, overdates, different sizes on mint marks.
I don't know the source of that quote, but why on earth would a branch mint basin, machine, and harden dies on its own? Did they have hubs to make dies from? Or die presses? No, they didn't. It makes no sense to me. In the 1900 time frame they were constantly complaining about die life to Barber in Philadelphia, which they wouldn't complain about if they had that kind of control over them. We'll have to check with Roger Burdette or somebody like that, but my understanding for years has been that dies were shipped to the branch mints ready to go, and the branch mints had no capability or authority to alter them. Their job was coin production. Mint records are pretty clear that dies for the following year were shipped to the branch mints in mid to late December - why would they bother with that protocol if the branch mints were punching their own dates? https://archive.org/details/rg104en...06/page/n219 is one such letter - "I have this day forwarded to the U.S. Mint New Orleans the following coinage dies for the calendar year 1900" is pretty darn clear that they were 1900-dated dies. Here's another for SF https://archive.org/details/rg104en...06/page/n165 I'm sorry for sounding so adamant about this but despite all the mistakes we find collectible now, the branch mints were not punching their own dates and mint marks. The counterfeiters sure are though!
@Slider23, I wanted to follow up on our discussion. I was wrong on some points, and correct on the main point. I had a longer email exchange with Roger Burdette (author of various books) and to summarize:
1. The basining, machining and hardening work done at the branch mints was to get them to fit in their presses, and to adapt them to the planchet upsetting used at that mint (mostly SF). 2. Dies were never shipped to branch mints with the dates or mint marks missing (i.e. the branch mints never punched these on their own).
Many lengthy details were in our discussion, such as "During the first decades of the two western mints, most San Francisco and some Carson Mint dies were shipped soft. This was done so that SF could adjust the radius (basin) to suit their presses, including cutting the die shank to correct length. Carson's presses were newer and soft dies were needed only for certain denominations. (For example when Carson got a new Morgan & Orr "Ajax" Press it used the same length dies as the one at Philadelphia, so these were shipped hardened, tempered and ready to use"
and "The basin, or radius of curvature of the dies, had to match the upsetting on planchets in height, width and angle between the proto-rim and the flat central area. If everything matched, the dies made the best quality coins with minimum force and thus lasted longer. Barber made dies with specific radii that worked well at Philadelphia with the upsetting determined by experiment. The identical dies when used at SF or another mint that had different upsetting values, might perform poorly."
As you might expect, removing material from the dies to adjust the basin/radius of the die face impacted the coin quality due to the "difference in relief between field and highest points. The main visual result on coins is a loss of detail where the relief meets the field, and less pronounced differences in height." I don't know if it was noticeable.
So the branch mints did alter the dies for the above reasons, but they never punched dates or mint marks on their own.
Quote: Fake slabs have been around for awhile, but recently the fakes slabs have been growing in the market place. PCGS has been the main target by the Chinese counterfeiters because because most of their holder coins do not have photos on the cert lookup. The new collector can protect themselves from counterfeits by buying from a reputable dealer, and buying coins that have photos to compare on the cert lookup. Unfortunately, the counterfeit coins and counterfeit plastic are getting better, and the counterfeit slabs enable the counterfeiter to sell their coins for more money. PCGS and NGC have contributed to their slabs being counterfeited by not posting high quality photos of coins on the cert lookup.
Fake slabs have been around since the Generation 1 rattler. That was the reason they went to the two-piece banded slabs...