A Date-By-Date Strike Analysis
By Ron Pope
It appears that by this time the master hub, especially the obverse, had lost much of its fine detailing with the result that all coins from all three Mints present a generally “mushy” or blurred appearance to one degree or another (even full strikes aren’t sharp.) The first two digits of the date are often very weak. Full strikes–to the limit of the detail remaining in the master hub–can sometimes be found, though they are quite rare.
The same comments apply to this coin as the “P” Mint coin above. A single full strike has been seen by the author for this date – it’s an incredible coin. Worn out reverse and obverse dies are very commonly seen, as are those lacking detail due to an actual weak strike.
The same comments apply to this date as to the previous two dates. Full strikes are currently unknown, though a few may exist (but with the limitations mentioned above for the “P” and “D” coins.) As with the Denver Mint coin, pieces struck from worn, eroded reverse and obverse dies are commonplace, as are actual weak strikes.
Apparently the master hub was reworked and touched up in 1926 to strengthen the fine detail that had been lost. The date is larger and the numerals are thicker than in previous years, and the last digit of the date now lies on top of, rather than to the left of, the ribbon tie closest to the date. All other details, especially on the obverse, are sharper. In spite of these changes, most 1926 Nickels show only an average strike, but lack the “mushiness” seen in the previous year. A few coins will show an exceptional strike, almost like a Proof.
Its bad reputation in regard to strike is almost exclusively more the result of worn, badly eroded, late state dies than to an actual deficiency of the strike, unlike the situation seen for the 1918-S and some other earlier dates. Some Mint State coins will show no better than Good to VG detailing on the reverse, much like the 1924-S, and some will show a blob of a Mintmark that is nearly impossible to verify as either a “D” or an “S.” Mintmark position must then be used to verify the proper Mint on such coins. Living up to its bad reputation for poorly produced coins, the ’26-D is number one in the series, percentage wise, for incomplete detailing.
Counter to its reputation, it often comes with a decent strike – a trend that occurs for the next four years with the San Francisco issues. A good number are found struck from worn dies, but not to the extent or degree of previous years. Horn and hair detail on the head of the bison are usually present, but not sharp – few coins show an incomplete horn due to the strike. It’s very doubtful that a true full strike exists for this date.
True full strikes are much rarer than would be expected–only a few may exist–but the author has yet to see a true FS. Typical strikes predominate, but well struck coins can be found with some effort. Specimen strike pieces show full, sharp details–better than any business strike and comparable to the Matte and Satin Proofs, and will also show somewhat atypical surfaces.
Most fall into the typical strike range. A true full strike has not been seen by the author. Often seen with a complete lack of central detail and struck from the eroded dies so frequently seen on the Branch Mint issues during this time period. This date is one of the major strike rarities in the series and is greatly underrated as such.
This is a generally well produced issue – of much better quality than its Denver Mint counterpart. It is usually seen well struck and from dies in decent condition, though coins struck from worn dies do exist in some quantity.
The same can be said for this date as for the 1927 – almost word for word. Like many of the coins from the late ‘20’s into the early ‘30’s, it is an unrecognized full strike rarity.
Often seen with a very substandard strike, though well struck coins exist in moderate numbers. This is yet another date that has not been seen with a full strike.
A well produced coin, often found with a good strike even though some of these are from late state dies. Sometimes seen struck from a badly eroded reverse die. Really weak strikes are unusual.
It’s doubtful if this coin exists with a fully struck obverse – even the best struck coins usually don’t come close, showing far from complete detailing at the hair braid directly above the horizontal ribbon. Some have a total lack of detail there, and even well struck coins are difficult to find. This date is probably the most poorly produced Philadelphia Mint coin in the series. It sometimes does show full details on the reverse. This date would be a great rarity if it was ever found with a full strike on both sides.
Overall, very similar to the 1928-D. It often comes very poorly struck, especially on the reverse. This date has one of the highest percentages of weak strikes in the series, with many weak due to the strike rather than to die erosion.
By far the best struck of the three Mints for the year. A little less than half will show a good strike, though it is sometimes seen with an eroded reverse.
Like the 1929, this would be a tremendous rarity with a true full strike if one ever turns up. It currently has not been seen with such a strike. Well struck coins are a little more frequently seen than for the 1929 but are still scarce. Once again the problem is found in the hair detail above the braid ribbon, with just typical detail found there while, at the same time, the same coin can show a fully detailed reverse.
Shows a better strike than the Philadelphia issue, but a true full strike has yet to be seen by the author. A few coins have come close, however. Strangely, many of these very well struck coins are from the single Class VI doubled die obverse that’s known for this date–every one of the dozen or so examples the author has seen has been fairly close to a full strike.
A very large majority will show a typical strike, with the usual lack of detail evident above the knot on the obverse. Weak strikes are seen with some frequency while well struck coins are scarce. This is yet another unappreciated strike rarity from the late 1920’s and early 1930’s not seen (by the author) with a full strike on the obverse but sometimes with a near full strike on the reverse. A fully struck example of this date would certainly be an extraordinary item.
After the 1938-D, this is one of the most frequently seen full strike dates of the era. Typical strikes predominate but well struck coins are common as well.
The author has seen one coin with a fully struck obverse, but unfortunately, with slightly incomplete details of the diagonal hairline at the bison’s upper left leg on the reverse. It was still an AMAZING coin! It is one of the most poorly struck dates in the series, with little or no detail at the centers on many pieces. Coins struck from worn dies are also commonplace.
Typical strikes are most often seen, but well struck coins exist in large numbers. True full strikes, on the other hand, are very rarely seen.
1935-P DDR O1
A very large percentage seen show a typical strike. Since it’s a major rarity in Mint State, no full strike is known, and it’s doubtful that one could exist. None of those seen by the author have come close.
Weak strikes and especially coins struck from late state eroded dies are common, but actual weak strikes seem to be somewhat less of a problem for this date than for the San Francisco issue (eroded dies are seen less often for the “S” Mint coin – weak strikes seem to predominate.) True full strikes for either date are currently unknown – a few may exist but the author has yet to see one displaying a full strike as is defined here, though a few have come very close.
Very poor strikes are a major problem with this issue–more so than with the Denver coin. True full strikes must certainly be excessively rare, assuming they exist at all. Coins struck from badly worn and eroded dies seem to be less frequently seen for this date as compared to the Denver issue – the strike itself is much more of a problem with the 1935-S than are worn dies.
Good strikes slightly outnumber typically struck coins as determined by the hair detail above the braid ribbon and at the front of the bison’s head. They are usually well to fully struck elsewhere. Strike extremes – either weak or full – are unusual. True full strikes, as defined here, are much tougher for this date (and the 1937) than is generally realized.
Typical strikes are more commonly seen than for the “P” Mint issue. Fully struck coins are of considerable rarity and, like so many of the late date coins in this series, are definitely unheralded strike rarities. Only the sheer number of remaining Mint State coins available make finding fully struck coins possible for many of these late date coins.
Seen with a better strike than either the “P” or “D” Mint coins – well struck pieces predominate to a large degree. As with the previous date, fully struck examples are quite rare and should be considered unrecognized late date strike rarities.
Like the 1936, most show a typical strike and strike extremes – either weak or full – are rarely seen. It’s a tough issue with a true full strike – only the very large remaining number of Mint State coins allows for full strikes to be occasionally available.
The strike percentages are very close to the 1937-P. Extremes of strike are unusual. A true full strike certainly exists for this date, though the author has yet to see one. The same comments concerning true full strikes for the 1936-D and S apply here as well.
Nearly all are borderline TS/GS and could be put in either category. Contrary to its reputation of poor strikes, it actually has a high percentage of good strikes (in the author’s opinion) when considering the limitations imposed by the damaged die, which is often mistaken as a deficiency of the strike. This may be so because of the tiny reduction of the relief between the devices and the fields caused by the lapping of the die. Only a few really weak strikes have been recorded, and a completely fully struck example has yet to be seen.
Usually shows a better strike than the previous two dates but rarely comes either weakly or fully struck.
Often seen advertised as “fully struck” but the number of true, 100% fully struck coins is no greater for this date than for most of the other typically well struck dates in the series. Most tend to lack just the tiniest amount of full hair detail above the braid ribbon and/or at the very front of the bison’s head. A very large majority do show a 90%-95% full strike. Poorly struck and very late die state coins are almost unheard of.
OMMs #01 and #02 only. Like the regular issue, good to near full strikes are to be expected for this variety.
AVERAGES-ALL DATES-REGULAR ISSUES + MAJOR VARIETIES
The standards set above may be more stringent than most, but it is the opinion of the author that a fully struck coin should be just that – a coin that displays all the detail of the die itself. Few business strike coins in this series can be expected to be found showing full detailing – even the assembling of a simple date set is a tremendous challenge if not an impossibility.
Reprinted from the MARCH 2013 issue #3 of the CDN Monthly Supplement
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