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Gold Die Set-Up US $20
March 17, 2008

Die Set-Up Gold Coin at Stack's

On March 26th Stack's will be offering a very interesting Liberty Twenty Dollar gold piece for sale in their Dominic Gaziano & Papyrus Way auction. Some might categorize this coin as an error, but it is actually a die trial struck while mint workers would have been in the process of setting up the dies for production.

Once the dies are secured in the coining press, workers will strike a coin. We call these coins die trials. Sometimes a die trial is struck in a softer metal than the production coin. This is often done at an early stage, well before production. Sometimes a square oversized piece of lead may be used. These lead pieces are called splashes. During the process of making the various elements of a coins desing into the die, some mints used to make progressive die trials to see how the work was coming along. These pieces only display a portion of the final coins desing.

This particular coin in Stack's upcoming sale is a set-up die trial. In this case, a die is all ready and production is to begin very soon. The mint workers begin by securing the dies into the coining press. At this point the dies are placed rather far apart, so that they will not clash and be damaged. Then a coin is struck using a planchet of the official metal. As you can see by the softness of the Stack's set-up trial the dies were too far apart, so the mint workers would have adjusted them closer together and this process would have continued until the ejected coin was fully struck up and all details were clearly visible.

Set-up die trails are normally not allowed to leave the premises of the mint. Most, I believe, are destroyed after the die set-up process is complete.

To find one available for sale in the market is rather rare, so this Stack's lot is a great opportunity for any U.S. Gold collector to add something unique to their collection.

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About the Author
Tom Michael has been Krause Publications primary market analyst on more than 80 world and United States coin catalogs produced over the last 20 years. He came to KP in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, a master of arts degree in economics and a history of coin collecting stretching back to the 1960s. He began collecting world coins as a child by asking friends and relatives to bring coins back from overseas trips, visiting flea markets and having his mother watch for foreign coins in her register at the local grocery store. Today he works with a dedicated base of over 200 contributors to provide accurate market values for the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins series, as well as many specialty catalogs, including Coins & Currency of the Middle East and the fifth edition of Unusual World Coins.

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