Obverse 6.2: Polished and Faint Arrows, Repunched Date
Reverse F: Perfect Die
Obverse 6.2 Reverse F
Obverse Diagnostic Point(s)
Comments: Brian Greer lists a "No Arrows" variety in his Seated Dime guidebook. He indicates that "The arrows have either been filled in the die or were weakly punched and show only very faintly." This variety was discovered by James Skwarek and is considered extremely rare, as only two examples are currently known.
A close study of the plate coin, purchased at the 2003 FUN show, suggests an alternate theory for the presence of faint arrows. First, the plate coin was produced from polished dies and is mildly prooflike. This suggests that the plate coin is from an early striking from a new set of dies. The digits in the date appear to be punched at least twice. The first date punch, as seen under the base of all four digits in the date, is weak and suggests that the die in the area of the date and arrows was polished. The polishing is most evident on the top of the 7 and 4 digits in conjunction with the left and right arrows. It is unknown as to why the mint employee attempted to remove the date and arrows by die polishing. After the polishing of the date area, a second attempt is made to repunch the date digits only. Evidence of the second punching of the date is clearly visible at the base of each digit. Since few examples are known, the Philadelphia mint employees at the steam press may have rejected this obverse die upon discovering that the arrows were very faint or not present. All 1874 dimes were struck with arrows, as required by law. The question now becomes that of how many examples were struck from this obverse die and released into circulation. Brian Greer indicated at the 2003 FUN, upon seeing the above plate coin, that the James Skwarek piece was the only one seen and was in a lower circulated grade.
On March 14, 2005, I received an email from Ken Shields, a fellow LSCC member. Ken reported the discovery of a third example of the 1874 Polished Arrows variety. He was kind enough to include a scan of the 1874 dime with the email. His dime grades VF35 with light gray toning turning to darker gray at the periphery.
During November 2008, a fourth example of the 1874 Polished Arrows variety was purchased on eBay by Bill Mackrides as a proof 1874 dime. Bill's specimen graded AU55 to AU58 with prooflike obverse and reverse fields. This example was untoned and problem free with possibility of a past dipping. All diagnostics points including the faint arrows and repunching on lower portion of date digits were clearly evident and matched the Variety 106 plate coin. The dime was sent to me for evaluation with the following images taken and posted in the December 2008 E-Gobrecht and subsequently in a Coin World article by Jack Stark. This dime sold in early January 2009 to a passionate Top 100 Varieties collector for $10,000.
Credible confirmation of the Variety 106 origins remain outstanding and the author welcomes theories or other associated historical information. In the meantime, the "No Arrows" 1874 variety is listed in the Top 100 Varieties set as a extremely rare key item for set completion.
Plate Coin: G. Fortin Collection, ANACS AU58
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