400 Esplanade Coin Album
Fortin 103. This coin is notable for extreme die rust on the obverse portrait. This must have been an early die state coin as the date and rock base are unusually heavily punched. Most are notable for date weakness from die lapping. The reverse is rotated 10 degrees CCW. This is also the small o variety. According to Gerry Fortin's reference, this variety commands a premium when located.
Ex: Simpson. Breen 3545, "Microscopic O." Howard Rounds Newcomb was one of the pioneer students of minute die varieties among late 19th and early 20th century coinage. He is credited with discovering the first "overmintmark," the 1900-O/CC Dollar. David Lawrence speculates this variety results from an employee using the mintmark punch designated for use on Quarters.
The New Orleans mint opened three years after Andrew Jackson signed legislation creating new branch mints at Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans. On April 9, 1838, the Philadelphia Mint shipped two pairs of dime dies to the newly opened branch mint, and the first coins, 30 dimes, were struck on May 8th. Dies were shipped from Philadelphia before the decision was made to add 13 stars to the obverse. As a result, all 1838-o half dimes and dimes are from the previous No Stars design. The 1838-o is not only the first branch mint dime in U.S. coinage history, but it is also the only branch mint issue of the No Stars type. Only 5 coins have achieved gem status at PCGS of the original mintage of 406,034. A total of 367,434 of Fortin 101 were struck in June and July 1838 and finally the remainder were struck in January 1839 as Fortin 102s.
Fortin 106a. The "Shattered Cobweb" reverse. While this coin has seen moderate circulation, the extensive circular reverse die cracks are still noticable on this rare and highly sought after variety. Unfortnuately my scans do not pick this up well, and perhaps they are not as dramatic as well preserved specimens. Most noticeable are the cracks through the bottom of the wreath and the upper right lettering. Star 5 is boldly repunched on the obverse.
Fortin 108, A-5: low date with upward slope, small O, open bud reverse. Among 3 mint mark varities the medium O is probably the rarest for this date. In addition, a closed bud reverse variety is highly sought after by variety collectors of this series. From 1838 to 1840 the closed bud reverse design was used on all New Orleans dimes. In 1841 a new reverse design with open buds in the wreath was introduced into New Orleans dime production. Thus a new obverse design with drapery and a new reverse design were used for the production of 1841-O dimes. However, at least one old closed bud reverse die was used in 1841. In Brian Greer's reference on Seated dimes (1992) he reported that only 10 examples of the Small O, closed bud and 20 pieces of the Large O, closed bud variety were known. At just a shade over 2 million coins, the 1841-O boasted the highest mintage of any dime minted at any mint up to that time, and it remained the second highest mintage dime until the 1853 With Arrows. In higher grades of mint state this issue is difficult to locate with only 1 gem at PCGS. The features of this coin seem typically struck, but are bathed in rich golden hues adding to the eye appeal of this coin.
Fortin 101, A-1. Significant die pitting is noted about the periphery of the reverse. Two mintmark varieties are known. The small o and the medium o, as shown by this example. The 1842-o is quite rare in AU and only a dozen have been certified as mint state. One gem is known at each service.
Fortin 101a: There is die cracking from the right ribbon end to the rim and from AME(R)ICA to the rim. The 1845-o is one of the key issues of the seated liberty series. Fewer than 40 submissions are listed at PCGS. There are only 2 known mint state examples at PCGS, one is in an unimaginable MS69 holder and the other a 62. They just don't come any more original than this.
Fortin 101: only one die pair discovered to date, though Breen lists a small o variety and the mintage would suggest a second pair would be needed. Few 1851-o dimes were saved from circulation and a mere 10 mint state examples have been certified by the 2 major services. There is only one known gem in a 65 NGC holder. A total of 50 submissions have occurred at NGC and PCGS combined.
Fortin 101: There are haloes around obverse stars 6-13. Despite the original mintage of 1.1 million, this short-lived 'with arrows' type coin is challenging in any grade slabbed. Only 60 or so submissions are reported at NGC and PCGS combined. Apparently this was another issue that was heavily circulated with the shortage of smaller denomination silver coins after bullion hoarders took their toll on earlier issues.
Fortin 103: the obverse is shattered with heavy cracking though the left arrow and 1 extending up through the shield. Cracks extend around the entire periphery and rejoin liberty's left foot. The mintmark has been obliquely punched and the top 1/3 is not visible. According to Fortin, this is a very scarce variety. Mint State survivors are considerably more scarce than their Philadelphia counterpart, despite a mintage of 1.8 million.
Fortin 104, repunched 56. Large O. The date slopes up rather abruptly to the right. The 5 and 6 are clearly repunched. In addition, several other Fortin 104s that I have seen have a die crack extending from the right facing foot to the rim. This coin does not indicating an early die state.
Fortin 101: the only known die pair. This issue is actually rather elusive as evidenced by its mintage of 299,000. In Brian Greer's Complete Guide to Liberty Seated Dimes, the 58-o is known for soft strikes especially at the head, breast , and tail feathers. Luster is usually subdued on mint state pieces.
Fortin 103: medium level date, open 5, with die chips seen about star 5, medium o. A-2, G101. With a limited original mintage of 480,000 coins and a poor rate of survival, the 1859-o is a scarce coin in all mint state grades. This well-struck example is adorned in emerald, citrine, and amythest hues Ex. Superior Worrell Collection Lot 374 Sept 1993.
Fortin 101: only one die pair known. The 1860-o is one of the key issues in the Seated dime series primarily because of a mintage of only 40,000. Its rarity is exceeded only by the 1871-CC, 1873-CC Arrows, and the 1874-CC. It is highly sought after in all grades, and coins with original surfaces are quite unusual and always deserve a premium. There are 3 submissions at NGC achieving mint state status, including one graded MS67.
Fortin 106a. O/O. The 8 & 9 are repunched at the bottom. The attribution is clinched as the remnant of an o is visible within the medium o. See small image. Heavy die clashing is seen at the right of lady liberty. This is the late die state as cracks are beginning to form on either side of the mint mark.
The 1902-o Barber dime is a very scarce issue that is much more difficult to locate than its mintage of 4.5 million pieces would suggest. It is elusive in all Mint State grades and especially challenging in Gem, with slightly more than a dozen available through MS67 (only 1 at NGC in 67). David and John Feigenbaum rank the 1902-o as R.5 in Mint State. This example has beautiful golden and violet toning and a strong strike.
With a mintage of greater than 8 million, the 1903-o dime had the highest mintage of any of the New Orleans Barber dimes. Not suprisingly however, fewer than 20 gem examples have been encapsulated at PCGS and NGC. The lack of preservation likely is explained by the Southern U.S. demand for coined money. This dime is super bright and all white with flashy surfaces. The strike is razor sharp.