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Theories for the Origination of the 1914/3 Buffalo Nickels



 by James Wiles, Ph.D.

CONECA Master Listing

19th Century Varieties

News and Studies

Theories for the Origination of the 1914/3 Buffalo Nickels

Theories for a 3 under the 4.

  1. Master Hub/Die Doubled from class VII partial design.

    1. There is no evidence for a second Master Hub/Die.

    2. The date digits match perfectly between all 1914 dated coins.

    3. Therefore we would have to posit that the MH had a class VII 3 under the 4.

    4. In other words,  the 3 on a 1913 dated hub was partially removed, a partial design die was created and a 4 was engraved into it.  It was then hubbed into a 1914 MH.

    5. It made one MD, which made one WH, which made a dozen or so working dies.

    6. The MH was then redressed to clean up the under digit and a new MD was put into production to created the rest of the 1914 production.

    7. Cons: 

      1. No explanation for why only 1 WH was created and placed into production.

      2. Usually WHs like WDs are created in batches.  So if several were made, why was only one placed into production?

      3. If they caught the overdate on the WH, then why was even 1 placed into production?

      4. If they did not catch it until the working die stage, then why aren't there more dies from the other WHs.

      5. Remember that the WDs are annealed between hubbings, so while one batch is being annealed another batch is being hubbed.

      6. This process would have created dozens of WDs before the overdate was discovered.  If some or most of the dies were rejected, why weren't the dozen or so we know about also rejected?

      7. Can the MH be redressed to completely remove the under-digit without leaving any signs or without modifying the shape of  the 4 over-digit?

      8. Abrasion techniques frequently overshoot the correction and distort the affected design.  Yet we don't see any evidence of that on other coins.

      9. Why wasn't the overdate caught on the MH?  The mint engraver was doing hand work on the die and surely he would have caught the errant 3.

      10. No other MH/MD class VII doubled die is known.

    8. Pros:

      1. Fits into what we know about the creation of the MH/MD.


  2. Working Hub Doubled from class III, design change.

    1. A partially hubbed WH with the 1913 date was final hubbed with a 1914 date to create a WH with a 4/3 overdate.  This WH then created a batch of WDs.

    2. The overdate was caught on the WDs where an attempt was made to eradicate it and the offending WH was retired after just 1 batch of WDs were produced.

    3. Because the 1914 MH/MD has the same design (with the exception of the last digit of the date) as the 1913 MH/MD, there would be no reason for any other doubling to exist on the WH or its WDs.  So clean up of the dies would be minimal.

    4. Cons:|

      1. Is it possible for a 1913 dated WH (raised design) to be rehubbed with a 1914 hub and it not be noticed? 

      2. Or its effects be minimal to the finalized WH?

      3. Would all/most of the raised metal of the 3 be moved into the 4 rather than be flattened into the field?

      4. I would think we would see much more of the under digit than we do.

      5. Doesn't explain why there is no evidence of the lower 3 on any of the coins."

    5. Pros:

      1. Raised metal on the WH would result in raised metal on the coin.


  3. Working Dies Doubled from class III, design change.

    1. A group of partially hubbed 1913 dies received their second hubbing from a 1914 dated working hub.
      The initial partial hubbing may not have reached the full circumference of the design, leaving only a partial upper date on the die.

    2. The subsequent hubbing penetrated deeper into the die pushing aside much of the metal previously displaced by the partial 3 causing the upper bar to become shallow and distorted.

    3. The dies were then abraded to further obscure the under digit.

    4. Cons:

      1. Why use partially hubbed 1913 dies?  An oversight? Or deliberate?

    5. Pros:

      1. The partial 1913 hubbing explains why we don't see the lower portion of the 3 on the overdate coins.  It wasn't there to begin with.

      2. We know that initial hubbings from the time period don't always reach the full circumference of the design.  Evidence is the 1916 DDO.

      3. The full hubbing from the 1914 hub explains why the upper horizontal bar of the 3 is shallow and not well formed on most of the dies.

Theories for damage under the 4

  1. Master Die doubled from damage.

    1. The MD was damaged creating a bar/mound under the 4 of the date.

    2. The damage could have occurred during its hubbing or as a dent while in its softened state.

    3. It then produced 1 WH which produced 1 batch of WDs.

    4. The WDs were abraded to eradicate the damage, but the offending MD & WH were considered too damaged to use and were replaced.

    5. Cons:

      1. Same as for theory #1 above.  Why only 1 WH and 1 batch of WDs?

      2. Why wasn't the MD rejected before making WHs?  Surely such damage would have been noticed.  After all the MD is going to be used to make lots of WHs, WDs, and millions of coins.

    6. Pros: 

      1. Dented damage to the MD would result in raised damage on the coin.


  2. Working Hub (relief) doubled from damage.

    1. Some type of debris stuck to a WH and was pressed into a batch of WDs.

    2. This debris would have had to stay in place for several hubbings and be unnoticed during that time.

    3. This debris would have had to be hard enough to withstand the pressure of the hubbing, yet shallow enough not to form too deep an impression on the WDs.

    4. Cons: 

      1. Is it possible for something to stick to a WH and stay in place for at least 12 hubbings?

      2. Are the WHs on the top or bottom of the hubbing press?

      3. If on the bottom, then it is easier to understand something sticking and staying in place, but also it is easier to see if being noticed and removed.

      4. If on the top then gravity has to be considered.

      5. This would have to occur on the final hubbing when the WDs have been flattened by their first hubbing.  Otherwise the cone tip and metal movement from the initial hubbing would tend to move the debris on the WH as well.

      6. My understanding is that a lot of handwork was required in setting the dies and hubs in the hubbing press.  Surely debris would have been quickly noticed?

    5. Pros:

      1. No need to postulate why the MH and MD were put into production to only produce 1 WH.

      2. Only 1 WH damaged as opposed to 12 working dies being individually damage.


  3. Working Dies doubled from damage.

    1. While it might be plausible to have a couple of WDs with the same type of independent damage, having 12 or more with such damage requires more than just a random accident.

    2. Cons:

      1. I am unaware of any procedure apart from hubbing which would have damaged a dozen WDs in exactly the same manner.

    3. Pros:

      1. A simple repetitive process would be responsible for the damage to the dies.


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