'Acidic' collection

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Unc90o
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'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:41 pm

I had mentioned this on another thread which probably got lost there. So anyway, there are quite a few acid treated dies from 1878-1882 (may even go beyond 82). Should we have (or start) a collection or a set list on SSDC registry for this? What do you all think?

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Raybob15239
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Raybob15239 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:30 pm

I have seen the term before but never understood it. What does an acid treated die look like? For what purpose would.acid be used on the die?
I swear, someday I will learn how to grade Peace Dollars!

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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:38 pm

When the Mint polished out a Die, sometimes they over polished and made either a missing feature or an empty area. In their attempt to mend it, they sometime used acid to treat the area instead of re-engraved it.

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messydesk
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by messydesk » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:55 pm

One of the beauties of the registry is the ability to design whatever set you want. An "acid die" set sounds like a fun one. I'm surprised there is anything after 1881 that falls into this category. The San Francisco mint was reprimanded for the practice of touching up dies in 1881 when they were messing with a $10 Lib. reverse, being told to stop and that if they were allowed to make small modifications, there was little to stop them from making major ones. The 82-S coins that are listed as having acid-treated dies are either very minor or questionable. It's possible that the touched up 82-S reverse was leftover from 1881, given the reprimand.
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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:20 pm

Not sure about 82s v34, but I will chk on my 82s v3.

fogie
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by fogie » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:49 pm

Shoot me a list of VAMs you want in the set and I will see to building the set in the registry. Sounds like a fun little set.

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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:07 pm

PM sent

vamsterdam
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by vamsterdam » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:13 pm

Too bad I didn’t think of this. I’ve been pushing the idea that they used acid for eons. I got really vocal about it because Leroy kept calling the 79s v45 counterfeit. I then compared the raised pitting in the leaves with the lava like appearance of 1878s vam49, 50, 76, and 81. I said that it had to be acid. I know what acid does to metal. Although I pushed the idea, lots of these dies had already been discovered as funky feathers but I never thought of putting them into a registry set. I do mention them all in my 1879s talk that I do for coin clubs but hats off to Nico for thinking of it. It would be a great set.

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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:26 pm

Brian - if it wasn't because of you, I would probably still clueless with those groovy vams :lol:

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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by vamsterdam » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:45 am

The 79s’s and some of their 78s precursors are one of my favorite topics.

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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:14 pm

1882-S VAM-3 confirmed being acid treated
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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:16 pm

And, here is for 1880-S VAM-7, if someone could help post it on the page, thanks.
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Raybob15239
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Raybob15239 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:27 pm

Were there ever any Peace Dollars that were acid treated? Just curious. Thanks.
I swear, someday I will learn how to grade Peace Dollars!

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messydesk
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by messydesk » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:19 pm

Are 82-S VAM 3 and 80-S VAM 7 definitely different reverse dies? I just pinged Roger Burdette so he can send better info about SF being told to knock it off with regard to these modifications. I'll post what I get.
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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:32 pm

Yes. 82-S VAM 3 and 80-S VAM 7 are definitely different reverse dies.
80-S VAM 7 is S/S with centered location both left/right and top/bottom. Upper tail feather has scattered pitting a bit overpolished.
82-S VAM 3 mm is slight tilt left and a bit low. Upper tail feather is normal.

fogie
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by fogie » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:18 am

Alright kids - there is now a set in the SSDC registry for "acidic VAMs" but there is only 1 person playing it so far (yes I am guilty...). If I have forgotten any - let me know.....

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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:09 am

Woohoo. There are 2 players now 🤣.

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lioncutter
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by lioncutter » Wed Feb 27, 2019 3:05 am

This should help in learning about acid dies.
I copied and pasted the article Mr. VanAllen written in the VAM-E in May 2011.


INTERMEDIATE

May 24, 2011
Volume 8, Issue 10

Acid Treated Dies at San Francisco
by Leroy Van Allen
Another chapter has recently been added to the modification of the 1878-S obverse and reverse dies by the San Francisco Mint. New findings recently reported and re-examination of some features of the 1878-S and 1879-S coins has confirmed the astonishing practice that acid was used in an attempt to fill in over polished areas on some of the obverse and reverse dies of these years. This is a unique practice used only by the San Francisco Mint for only those two years. Acid was not used on dies at the other mints that struck the Morgan dollars.
A New Practice at San Francisco Mint
The addition of an engraved feather between the eagle’s right wing and leg was reported way back in November 1979 by David DeRuiter. Some of these modified dies had different and strange smooth or dotted surfaces of which four were dubbed "funky feathers". The earliest of these were VAM 49 reported by Pete Bishal in July 1981 and VAM 50 reported by Martin Field in August 1981. It had long puzzled the author why or how these odd and crude looking engraved feathers were made compared to other smooth normal-like looking engraved feathers made with traditional engraving tools of burnishing sticks, Arkansas stones and abrasive paper.
In early September 2010, Brian Raines sent an 1879-S with the comment, "lower hair severely polished like VAM 34B, but filled back in, possibly with acid (like 1878-S VAM 76)...". It was confirmed that the smooth, slightly raised areas in gaps in the lower hair looked like acid treated to fill in the hair gaps. It was listed as a new variety VAM 1E as shown in Figures 1 and 2. The key to identifying acid treated areas is the flat raised surface with sharp edges and sometimes tiny raised dots. Normal die polishing doesn’t leave well defined raised areas with sharp edges. An acid drop could be applied to a small area where it would interact with the steel alloy and dissolve a layer.


Fig. 1: 1879-S VAM 1E. Acid treated lower hair by initial.
Fig. 2: 1879-S VAM 1E. Acid treated lower hair by right hair vee.


Fig 3: 1878-S VAM 78. Acid treated overpolished lower hair.
A similar acid treated over polished lower hair obverse is evident for the 1878-S VAM 78 Die 1 as shown in Figure 3. Hank Habenicht had sent the coin in August 2010 with the comment, "Thin flange of metal around Liberty’s profile. Edge of flange is ragged like a torn sheet of paper." At the time, it was thought the thin layer with ragged edge below the lower hair was from over polishing of the die. But a round dot is below the designer’s initial M and very flat areas with sharp edges in the two adjacent hair gaps meets the criteria for acid treated die.

Fig 4: 1879-S VAM 78. Acid treated bases of wreath leaves, 4th lower left cluster.
In May 2011 William Green sent an 1879-S that John Roberts had commented, "Several leaves in left wreath have odd surfaces that suggest acid etching of die to fill weakened details from polishing similar to VAM 16A." The leaves in the four top clusters of the left wreath die indeed have flat smooth areas with ragged edges of acid treatment as shown in Figure 4. It is a new 1879-S VAM 78 rarity with the same obverse die as VAMs 50 and 68, but a different reverse die. The wreath leaves is a new reported location for acid treatment of dies. And as shown later, the four "funky feathers" 1878-S reverse dies were also acid treated.
Type of Acid
A question one might ask, is what kind of acid may have been used on the dies. The San Francisco Mint refined bullion for many years, including 1878 and 1879. Nitric acid was used to extract and refine the silver from the gold and silver granulations made from the bullion deposited at the mints. Nitric acid dissolved the silver in the bullion as chloride of silver and sulfuric acid was used to aid the reduction of the chloride by zinc to extract the pure silver (Hutchings California Magazine, October 1856, "Coining Money, at the San Francisco Mint", and Report of the Director of the Mint, 1896 pg 135.)
It is not known whether nitric acid or sulfuric acids readily available to the mint workers were used on the dies. Various strengths of the acid would react with the steel die surface. The mint workers likely experimented with the two acid types with varying strengths and duration on the die face to produce the different results shown in the following section.
Known Examples of Acid Treated Dies
Besides the previously mentioned obverse dies of 1878-S VAM 78 Die 1 and 1879-S VAM 1E with acid treated lower hair and VAM 78 wiht acid treated wreath leaves, the four known 1878-S "funky feathers" reverses of VAMs 49, 50, 76 and 81 show flat areas with sharp edges at the eagle’s right wing and leg gap that look like they were acid treated. The feather at this B2 reverse type wing-leg junction was frequently made weak or even erased when the reverse dies were basined and polished. This over polished feather was engraved back with a feather of various shapes on 37 working dies at the San Francisco Mint plus the four "funky feathers" dies that were acid treated.
Figure 5 shows the smooth top of the acid treated missing feather area of VAM 49 with sharp, ragged and curvy edges. It is relatively shallow compared to the typical raised engraved feather and two layers are apparent. Engraving a wing with typical tools of burnishing sticks, Arkansas stone and abrasive paper would produce straighter edges. There are also some tiny raised dots below the smooth area which wouldn’t have been made by the typical engraving tools, but rather by tiny drops of acid. VAM 49 also shows a long narrow smooth acid treated area at the wing-body junction above the acid treated lower feather.


Fig. 5: 1878-S VAM 49. Smooth acid treated area bottom of right wing.
Fig. 6: 1878-S VAM 50. Bumpy acid treated area bottom of right wing.

An unusual looking acid treated feather area is shown for VAM 50 in Figure 6. The area extends vertically up into the wing-body junction and has a flat surface with sharp ragged edges and raised dots and splotches. A smaller shallow raised area with sharp lower edge is below the larger flat raised area and must have been a first application of acid. The larger area with dots and splotches could have been made with a different acid type or concentration which caused more violent bubbling reaction on the steel die surface. It is not known whether nitric or sulfuric acid was used on a particular die or the concentration and length of time left to etch the steel surface.
Figure 7 shows acid treated wing-leg area for VAM 76 that looks similar to VAM 49 with smooth flat surface with ragged edges. However, this die has unusual flat smooth acid treated areas in the middle of both wings and above the eagle’s right talon as shown in Figures 8, 9, and 10. It was an attempt to fill up some flat over polished areas. These additional acid treated areas have the same general appearance as the wing-leg area.


Fig. 7: 1878-S VAM 76. Acid treated area betweenright wing and body.
Fig. 8: Acid treated areas in middle of eagle's right wing.


Fig. 9: Acid treated area in middle of eagle's left wing.
Fig. 10: Acid treated area above talon of right foot.


Fig 4: 1879-S VAM 81. Acid treated area between right wing and body.
The fourth "funky feather" acid treated wing leg area is shown in Figure 11 for VAM 81. This has the similar appearance of VAM 50 with a long flat area with ragged edges and raised dots and splotches on the surface.
A fifth acid treated 1878-S reverse die appears to be for the VAM 36 as shown in Figures 12, 13, 14, and 15. The wing-leg junction has a normal engraved feather, but the middle of both wings have some smooth raised areas with sharp curvy edges plus a few small round raised dots typical of the acid treated surface. The upper tail feathers show unusual elongated smooth top areas with sharp edges and a few vertical fine lines where a sharp tool must have been used during the acid application. It is the only known case of acid treated upper tail feathers.


Fig. 12: 1878-S VAM 36. Acid treated area lower right wing.
Fig. 13: Acid treated areas in lower area of eagle's left wing.


Fig. 14: Acid treated area in upper tailfeathers.
Fig. 15: Acid treated area in middle area of eagle's left wing.

Another possible acid treated 1878-S reverse die is VAMs 55 and 75A that share this same reverse with raised dots, bands and lines with rough edges in the middle of the over polished eagle's left wing as shown in Figure 16. The 1879-S VAM 45 with rough and pitted areas on lower left wreath leaves had been thought to be a counterfeit die, but now appears to be acid treated leaves with smooth areas and raised dots ash shown in Figure 17. An 1879-S VAM 64 with what were thought to be die flakes at the lower hair is now apparently acid treated as shown in Figure 18.


Fig. 16: 1878-S VAM 55. Acid treated area in middle of left wing.
Fig. 17: 1879-S VAM 45. Acid treated leaves in lower left wreath.

Fig. 18: 1879-S VAM 64. "Die flakes" in lower hair and designer's initial.

Summary
It is currently known that the San Francisco Mint used nitric and/or sulfuric acid on one 1878-S obverse die, six reverse dies, two 1879-S obverse dies and two reverse dies in an attempt to fill in flat over polished areas on the die surface. It was of limited success because of ragged edges and smooth flat surface not typical of the over polished and missing hair edges or more rounded feathers. These acid treated dies are amazing examples of the San Francisco Mint applying un-authorized treatment on dies and are unique in the Morgan dollar series. There are likely other examples of 1878-S and 1879-S acid treated dies waiting to be reported.

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78-sLongnock
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by 78-sLongnock » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:07 pm

Great idea to add this group.
Now there are Three sets up under the Acid group! Thanks

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Unc90o
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Re: 'Acidic' collection

Post by Unc90o » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:11 am

Very nice article by LVA. Thank you for posting it.

So SF mint experimented with two different acid types. And one of the acid type made the metal bubbly. This made me wonder perhaps many of those 81s pitted eagles were acid treated.

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