Die Nomenclature

Business Strike Dies


We identify dies with unique identifiers. For each year, the business strike obverse dies are identified with numeric identifiers – 1, 2, 3, etc. We’ve attempted to sequence the dies such that obverse 1 is the first die used in a given year, obverse 2 the second, etc. One word of caution – we froze these designators once the die marriages were documented on our web site, but we expect that new die marriages will be discovered. When they are, we will add them to the end of the sequence. Hence this sequencing won’t continue to represent the emission sequence if new die marriages are discovered.

Business strike reverse dies are identified with alphanumeric identifiers – A, B, C, etc. Again, we’ve attempted to sequence the dies such that reverse A is the first die used in a given year, reverse B the second, etc. As with the obverse dies we froze these designators once the die marriages were documented on our web site. Reverse dies discovered subsequently will be added to the end of the sequence, disrupting the emission sequence representation. An additional level of complexity applies to the reverse dies. They were often transitional across multiple years. For these cases the die is identified with its alphanumeric identifier in its first year of use. In subsequent years, the year of first use is added to the identifier. Thus 1848 Reverse A, which is transitional across several years, is referred to as Reverse A in 1848 and Reverse 1848 A in each subsequent year. If a die is discovered to be transitional to an earlier year after the die marriages have been documented on our web site the identifier will be changed to reflect the correct first year of use.

In order to reduce any confusion that the discovery of new dies may produce we will include on our website an emission sequence table for each year.

Proof Dies


Proof dies are identified in the same manner as business strike dies, but a P is added to the identifier. Obverse dies are designated P1, P2, etc. Reverse dies are PA, PB, etc. Transitional proof dies are treated in the same manner as transitional business strike dies. The first year of use is added to the designation in subsequent years. An example is Reverse 1840 PA, which is used in most years through 1854.

In most cases proof dies were not used to strike business strikes. However, there are a few exceptions. See the section Proofs vs. Business Strikes for a complete listing of the exceptions that we have identified. When a die is used for both proof and business strikes we use the proof designator to identify that die. As an example, the 1855 business strike die marriage is identified as die pair P1-PA since the same dies were used to strike both the proof and business strikes.

Conventions


Miss Liberty's Breasts, Legs, Arms, and Hands


Miss Liberty’s features are identified as right or left based on the view of the collector. Thus her left breast is the one which appears on the left side of the coin, anatomically her right breast.

Obverse Stars


The obverse stars are identified as right or left based on the view of the collector. The stars are identified individually by counting from the lower left side. Thus, the star left of the rock on which Miss Liberty sits is star #1. The other stars, moving in a clockwise direction, number 2 through 13. Star 13 is just above Miss Liberty’s foot.

The Eagle's Legs, Claws, and Wings


The eagle’s legs, claws, and wings are identified as right or left based on the view of the collector. Thus, the left claw is the one which appears on the left side of the coin, anatomically the eagle’s right claw.

Reverse Lettering


The reverse letters, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and ONE DOL, are identified beginning with the U in UNITED and proceeding clockwise through the last A in AMERICA, then moving to the O in ONE and proceeding to the right through the L in DOL. The letters are numbered if required. For example:

  •   The last A in AMERICA is A3.
  •   The last S in STATES is S2.
  •   The D in DOL is D2.
  •   The O in DOL is O3.

The Letters in the Motto


The letters in the motto (IN GOD WE TRUST) are identified by referring to the letter and the word. For example:

  •   The last T in TRUST.
  •   The O in GOD.

Copyright © 2015, by Dick Osburn and Brian Cushing, All rights reserved.