Article by:

Henry Hilgard
hhilgard@aol.com
Features

Learning About Minting from an Errant Elephant

At the recent FUN show in Orlando in January, a mint error Elephant Token surfaced. This particular Elephant Token is not dated, but all Elephant Tokens are thought to have been struck between 1672 and 1694, and they are strongly connected to colonial America through the 1694-dated Carolina Elephant Tokens whose reverses read “God Preserve Carolina and the Lords Proprieters”. They are described on pages 25 and 26 of the Red Book.

Click for larger image.

What can we learn from this off-center piece? First of all, the dominant feature of the obverse (elephant side) is the semicircular indent that appears on the blank portion of the coin just outside the die face between 8:00 and 10:00. Remembering that the low parts of a coin correspond to the high points of the die that made it, the semicircular indent represents something that is raised on the coining apparatus and is located just outside the die. That is exactly where we would expect to find a collar, whose purpose is to position a coin in the coining chamber during striking. So this coin most likely informs us that the collar consisted of several of these slightly raised, curved elements lying just outside the die face of the obverse die.

A second dramatic feature of this coin is that the unstruck portion of the reverse was bent upwards during striking, when the unstruck portion of the obverse (elephant) side of the coin ran into the collar element. This is confirmation that in the making of this coin the reverse die was the hammer (upper) die, and the obverse was the anvil (lower, stationary) die.

Thus a fun coin found at the FUN show provides us with our first indication of what collars were like on these historic pieces, and allows us to distinguish between the hammer and anvil dies that made this coin.

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