Die Markers

Die markers are unique features on the surface of a die which are transferred to the coin on striking and serve as data to uniquely identify the die used for the striking. These features are usually result from one of these sources:
  1. Die Lines are created on the surface of the die during the die preparation process or subsequent polishing. These lines are usually incused on the surface of the die and thus appear raised on the surface of the coin. They are sometimes strong enough to be easily visible under low magnification, but often require higher magnification under a stereo microscope.
  2. Pits or indentations on the surface of the die are created by rust or other sources, and appear as Die Lumps on the surface of the coin. As with die lines these lumps are sometimes strong enough to be visible under a glass, but often require a microscope.
  3. Unfinished Areas appear on the die where the edge of the devices doesn’t intersect sharply with the field. These areas tend to be reduced or sometimes completely disappear as the die is polished. The most common places where these unfinished areas are seen are under the chin and around the intersection of the pole with the arm on the obverse die, and between the leaves, between the claws, and in the shield recesses on the reverse die.
Other types of features are sometimes seen. Any feature that is on the surface of the die and is unique to a particular die can be a die marker. Some of the features on the die are imparted by the hub when the die is created, and thus appear on all dies for the year. These are NOT die markers.

Die State

The die state can vary as the die is used. The initial state at first use of the die is perfect. Subsequently the die can crack, receive clash marks, be polished, or otherwise degrade with use. We assigned states of a, b, c, etc. to represent each state of degradation. The perfect die is always represented as state a. It should be noted that a particular die marriage may not occur with state a dies if one or both of the dies have been used in previous pairings.

Emission Sequence

For each year the emission sequence is the order in which the die marriages were produced. For each year we include on our website a table documenting the emission sequence. As an example the table below represents the emission sequence for 1849.
Emission Order
Die Marriage
Obv. Die
Rev. Die
1 OC-1 1 1840 A
2 OC-2 2 1848 A
3 OC-3 3 A

Table ***# TBD *** – 1849 Emission Sequence

Left or Right Breast and Leg

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

Strike Weakness

Strike weakness results when the metal that makes up the planchet fails to flow into all the recesses of the die. It will appear as flat spots in the areas where the relief is highest.


A reverse die is identified as transitional if it is used in multiple years.

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