The PNNA Memorabilia Catalog

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by Greg Franck-Weiby

Note that there are some important corrections to information that was on the info sheet included with the collector sets.
This year's design was copied from that of the 1794 half dime, the first regular issue silver design type (including the dollar and half dollar) of the U.S. Mint. (While it is debatable whether the 1792 half disme was a pattern, Redbook begins the listing of "Regular Issues" for silver coins with the 1794 dated type.)

The dies used to strike the PNNA commemorative were 'cloned' from dies made by Ron Landis for the Gallery Mint Museum's series of beautiful reproductions of early U.S. coins. The process of producing the PNNA dies was that Tom Maringer of the Shirepost Mint made a steel impression of the Gallery Mint's working die with the "eagle in wreath" (technically the obverse). Greg Franck-Weiby (who used the dies to strike the PNNA pieces) then removed the original inscription on that positive impression. Tom Maringer then pressed that positive 'hub' into a new die. Greg Franck-Weiby then added the new inscriptions and border dentilation. For the 'flowing hair' Liberty head, Tom Maringer pressed into a new die a 'hub' punch of just the Liberty head, made by Ron Landis. Greg Franck-Weiby then added the inscriptions and border dentilation on that die (technically the 'reverse').

The Liberty head punch was sunk much more deeply on these dies than on either the original U.S. Mint coins or the Gallery Mint reproductions. The result is much higher relief sculpture, showcasing Ron Landis' artistic skill, but it also required that the coins be struck on planchettes much thicker than the originals. That resulted in the silver strikes weighing ~1.9 grams versus the originals' weight of 1.35 grams. Additionally, the greater force necessary to strike up the higher relief required that the copper, silver, and gold be struck on a 20 hydraulic press, rather than the antique screw press used to strike all of the pewter. The greater planchette thickness and press power resulted in some of the pieces spreading to more than the 16.5mm diameter of the originals - up to 18mm on some pewter pieces. (While U.S. dimes have been 17.9mm diameter since 1837, the first U.S. dimes were 19mm.)

The greater force used, in combination with technical difficulties in heat treating the dies to harden them, resulted in partial die failure that required some reworking of the dies during the process of minting the collector set pieces. While some strengthening of the wreath stems was done on the eagle die, its partly collapsed surface was left unchanged, resulting in the eagle side of all of this type having slightly bulging fields. The Liberty head die was re-worked twice, resulting in three distinct 'die states' distinguishable among the collector set pieces.

Half of the dozen gold pieces and one of the coppers were the first die state, with rather thin hair and wreath stems, and the least amount of field deviation from perfect flatness. The other half of the dozen gold strikes and one of the pewter pieces are the second die state (of both dies), with progressively greater distortion of the fields on the Liberty head die, but strengthened (i.e. partly re-engraved) hair and wreath stem lines. All of the silver and all but one of the copper and one of the pewter pieces are the third die state of the Liberty head die. The fields are more nearly perfectly flat (except for a small area under the chin). The inscriptions and border dentilation were largely redone. The end of the neck truncation is rounded rather than pointed, and the T of 'Association' is at the truncation end rather than being below it.

Total mintages are: 12 gold (.999 pure, mostly from Republic National Bank of New York one ounce bar #047809), 112 silver (.999 fine), 32 copper (pure copper, some finished blanks made by Shirepost Mint and the rest hand cut down from larger blanks made by Alaska Copper & Brass Co. in Portland OR), and 750 pewter (95% tin/ 5% antimony) struck before the convention, plus about another 100 struck at the convention as part of the screw press striking demonstration.

Notes on the third die state: Most are 'well struck'; a few pieces are a little weak (i.e. flat looking) on the hair lines above Liberty's ear, and the feathers on the eagle's neck and breast aren't always struck up sharply.