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How long do dies last for?


gxseries
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There is great variability. Planchet size and compositon are major determinants but there can also be a lot of difference in striking pressure. Many dies suffer catastrophic failures caused by poor steel, extreme stress, or improper annealing. Standards will vary from coin to coin or mint to mint.

 

The first clad quarters were produced at about 200,000 per die. but the dies barely hit many of these. There were dramatic increases in die quality and strike quality over the years and more were produced per dies. By '98, I believe the average was up to around 600,000 though this was partially accomplished by lowering the relief. The states issues are in production a very short time so they never get all the bugs ironed out of the process (each design is different) so they get around 300,000.

 

Mint set clad quarters are struck in the old vertical presses under higher pressure than other quarters. These dies are used for only about 30,000 strikes because the standards are far higher. Dies showing wear are changed.

 

Zinc is extremely soft and cent dies will last well over a million strikes and, I believe, a few will make two million.

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Hi King:

If the mint takes such extra care in the coining of mint sets,

why are they so beat up when you get them from the mint?

 

...Tony...

 

 

They don't get beat up during the striking process. They get beat up that same way other coins do - when they are ejected into the hopper and thousands of coins fall onto each other and during the move from the coining room to the packaging room.

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They don't get beat up during the striking process. They get beat up that same way other coins do - when they are ejected into the hopper and thousands of coins fall onto each other and during the move from the coining room to the packaging room.

 

 

No doubt this is true but I've always suspected the equipment used to dry the mint set coins after they are washed is a major culprit as well. Most of the worst marking is probably done before this process and a small amount afterward. They are dried while being tumbled with corn meal in a machine like a cement mixer. This marks a very large percentage of the coins when they tumble into one another but the marks tend to be light. Thise that do escape do so because the machine was empty when they went in and they avoid collisions. Almost every single coin from every single year of the clad years can be found clean in the mint sets but some are very tough. The '80-D half dollar for instance is a bear and so are many of the later issues. Clean coins generally run at around 2% of the mint set coins but is as low as about .1% and as high as about 15% depending on denomination/ date/ mint.

 

The 2005 sets are reputed to be far cleaner than previous years but I've seen little evidence so far. Perhaps this will be the first year in a series of qulity improvements.

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  • 3 weeks later...

<The first clad quarters were produced at about 200,000 per die. but the dies barely hit many of these. >

 

I attended a talk by Michael Lantz, who was in charge of production at the Denver mint from 1961 to 1995 at the Central States Show. He said that the silver quarters in 65 were running about 200,000 coins per die pair but that when they awitched to the clad composition the die life plunged to around 60,000 and they had great difficulty making their production goals, eventually having to keep the dies in use and in such condition that would neve have been acceptable on the silver coins.

 

As mentioned die life varies considerably depending on denomination, composition and what time period you are talking about. For Shield nickels the die life in the early years was only 12 to 17 thousand coins. By 1883 they had gotten it up to around 23 thousand. For the old Jefferson nickel (pre-04) they ha it up to 300 thousand. Lincln cents varies considerably. My Lantz said that typical was around a million coins, but they had one die pair that lasted for EIGHT million

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Christopher Pilliod offers some general numbers in his article, "History of Diemaking in the United States" in the new ANA Journal. For 1792 ro 1836, he estimates 183,000 strikes per known die pair for bust halves, a number he says is surprisingly close to modern numbers for Kennedy halves (82.34 million coins 1807 through 1836, 450 identified die pairs). 1907 rough estimate of 100,000 cents per die pair (1000 dies for 100 million cents). He notes that half dollar dies approached 500,000 by the late 1820s.

 

How many for today's circulation production? He notes that in 1982, 16.7 billion cents were produced requiring 16,000 die sets assuming each die set produced 1,000,000 cents. By 1993 dies were produced with all elements on the hub (including date and mint mark, eliminating the possibility of earlier types of varieties such as repunched mintmarks) and by 1997 dies were produced with a "single squeeze" method that eliminated doubled dies (i.e. machine doubling only from 1997 on).

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  • 8 months later...

Add the ANS exhibit at the Federal Reserve in New York they were playing a video about the modern minting process and I;m sure they mentioned teh average die life. I think it went up recently after they made some changes to relief and technology. But I cannot remember the numbers now though the video may be accessible online.

 

For quarters this was mentione din one report "At $50 per die and 250,000 coins per die, dies represent a variable cost in the

manufacturing process that can be controlled."

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All those statistics sound good but I really wonder why, with all the technology today, can't the government come up with dies made of a material that would last much, much longer. Or even why no one is attempting to come up with some other method of producing coinage. It does appear we are producing coins similar to the way it has always been done and by materials not tremendously improved over the ages. Possibly they have tried but I never hear of any great, new, fantastically economical methods of producing our monitary system.

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All those statistics sound good but I really wonder why, with all the technology today, can't the government come up with dies made of a material that would last much, much longer. Or even why no one is attempting to come up with some other method of producing coinage. It does appear we are producing coins similar to the way it has always been done and by materials not tremendously improved over the ages. Possibly they have tried but I never hear of any great, new, fantastically economical methods of producing our monitary system.

 

Yes, they could make dies last much longer, but the price of those alloys is price-prohibitive. The current steel alloys are relatively cheap and they get 300K to 1M+ depending upon denomination out of a fifty buck die - what's the problem???

 

I would also disagree that the materials and methods have not "not tremendously improved over the ages". Minting has progressed from hand-hammered precious metal coinage struck at maybe 4 - 5 per minute to manually-powered screw presses at 15 -20 per minute to mechanically-driven "knuckle" presses at 60 - 100 per minute to the modern hydraulic presses pumping out copper-nickel alloy coins at 700+ per minute. Sounds pretty "great, new, fantastically economical" to me.

 

Yes, we're still using metal coins, but that's the best way to make a coin that lasts. And yeah we're still using dies, but that's the best way to produce a coin that's tough to counterfeit.

 

The ultimate solution, of course, is to do away with physical money althogether and go electronic. May eventually happen.

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Yes, we're still using metal coins, but that's the best way to make a coin that lasts. And yeah we're still using dies, but that's the best way to produce a coin that's tough to counterfeit.

 

The ultimate solution, of course, is to do away with physical money althogether and go electronic. May eventually happen.

Coming much sooner than imagined. I already know many people that no longer carry any form of money. Only credit and/or debit cards. Around here anyway they can be used in grocery stores, coin shows, gas stations, gun shows, department stores, hobby stores, auto repair, auto rental and on and on and on. I seldom use cash at all anymore myself but still carry some just in case. I've been in stores where the computers went down and the store stopped. Although the cashiers could take CASH because some registers were still manual, they were instructed not to. The only way to go in the near future is just plastic.

And as to the old ways of making coins, I wonder. I've seen so many coins that were thousands of years old and in better condition than the ones we make today. Of course maybe the vending machines back in the days of the Romans were better constructed.

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Coming much sooner than imagined. I already know many people that no longer carry any form of money. Only credit and/or debit cards. Around here anyway they can be used in grocery stores, coin shows, gas stations, gun shows, department stores, hobby stores, auto repair, auto rental and on and on and on. I seldom use cash at all anymore myself but still carry some just in case.

 

 

And as to the old ways of making coins, I wonder. I've seen so many coins that were thousands of years old and in better condition than the ones we make today. Of course maybe the vending machines back in the days of the Romans were better constructed.

 

I too rarely use physical currency. "Cash-back" credit cards are a nice benefit. But physical money will remain the medium for truly private transactions until the development of anonymous debit cards.

 

Of course older coins look better, they were much higher reflief and detail. And the stress of circulation was far less.

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